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iPhone sales: Did Steve Jobs's death drive record iPhone sales?

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"Despite the initial disappointment that this wasn't an iPhone 5, the reality is we're still seeing the usual frenzy that we've got used to on launch day," analyst Ben Wood at CCS Insight told Reuters. Analysts expect global sales of a few million phones on the first weekend, he added.

Unlike many in Tokyo, shoppers in European cities told Reuters they wanted the phone because it was a "lifestyle choice" and not necessarily a tribute to Jobs.

"I need a new one since my dog destroyed my old 3GS," said Gaby Wunder-Sambale, 45, shivering in Frankfurt.

Despite the enthusiasm at Apple stores, the launch was marred somewhat by widespread complaints this week on the Internet about problems downloading iOS 5, the latest version of Apple's mobile software.

There were also problems with iCloud, Apple's online communications, media storage and backup service formally launched on Wednesday, with users reporting glitches such as losing their email access.

Queues in Paris were smaller than those normally seen for a brand-new iPhone, with some fans there wondering if the somewhat underwhelming introduction had put people off, but in London and elsewhere the lines were as long as ever.

On Regent Street in central London, the queue wound down a side street and into a park, where Starbucks had a mobile stand to serve coffee. Of the 40 people to whom Reuters spoke in London, 13 were switching from other phones.

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