Apple's iPhone 4S goes on sale amid buzz about Siri, Jobs

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4S officially went on sale around the world today and analysts expect the company to ship up to 4 million units during its first weekend of availability. 

On Thursday, all three U.S. carriers launching the iPhone--AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ)--announced that pre-order units of the device were sold out. Lines were modest at Apple and carrier stores across the country and around the world. Apple said it received 1 million pre-orders within the first 24 hours of availability last weekend.

In the U.S., the iPhone 4S is retailing for $199.99 for the 16GB model, $299.99 for the 32GB model and $399.99 for the 64GB model, with a two-year contract. The device went sale at 8 a.m. local time in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Germany and Japan.

Analysts expect Apple to top the 1.7 million iPhone 4s that it sold in the first weekend of availability last year, with estimates ranging from 2 million to 3 million, according to Bloomberg. One analyst, Yankee Group's Carl Howe, predicted sales of as high as 4 million units of the iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 4S sports a dual-core Apple A5 processor, an 8-megapixel camera with advanced optics and full 1080p HD resolution video recording, and Apple's new Siri voice-recognition software. The technology enables iOS device users to employ natural spoken language to access and perform device tasks like mobile search and messaging. The iPhone 4S supports both GSM and CDMA networks. However, according to Apple, only iPhones for Verizon and Sprint will have the CDMA capabilities activated.

Initial analyst and media reaction to the device was muted, since it is a relatively minor update to the popular iPhone 4 in terms of hardware and design. However, reviews of the device have been largely positive, especially for Siri, which acts as a personal assistant and can respond to questions. "It's like your own personal secretary," Apple shopper Shane Gray told Reuters in Sydney. 

Enthusiasm for the new device was tinged, in some places, with mourning for Steve Jobs, Apple's chief who died last week. "I am a fan, a big fan. I want something to remember Steve Jobs by," Haruko Shiraishi told Reuters in Tokyo as she waited for the iPhone 4S.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this separate Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article

Related Articles:
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Apple's iPhone 4S may not be that different, but wireless industry now is
Sprint confirms unlimited data plans for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4
Verizon, AT&T start marketing battle over iPhone 4S, while Sprint stays mum
Apple unveils iPhone 4S, adds Sprint, Siri voice-recognition software

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