Apple's latest iPhone arrived to an enthusiastic response from buyers camped out at stores Friday, but many observers noted the crowds were smaller than those that gathered for previous releases.
The iPhone 4S, which went on sale in seven countries, is faster and comes with better software and an improved camera.
But with the fifth unveiling of its popular iPhone, Apple is finding it difficult to maintain the excitement of past iPhone introductions. For starters, the phone is more widely available than in the past. In addition to Apple stores, people can buy the phone from one of three wireless carriers: AT&T Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless. Some Best Buy, Target and Walmart stores and authorized resellers also carry the phones. Buyers also were able to pre-order the phone on Apple's website and have it shipped to their home or office.
iPhone 4S Release
In Santa Rosa, Apple fans lined up outside the downtown Verizon store before its doors opened at 8 a.m.
"We've been full from the start," said Devin Halliday, manager of the Verizon store on Fourth Street.
Chelle White was in line Friday morning at the Verizon store on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa, waiting for her first iPhone.
The Santa Rosa mom said she's excited about several of the phone's features. "I have newborn twins, and I need video and a camera for the grandparents," she said.
The iPhone 4S is a big step up from her old mobile device, White said. "It's not this phone and it has a screen that works," she said.
But many diehard Apple fans and investors were disappointed that Apple didn't launch a more radically redesigned new model — an iPhone 5. It's been more than a year since Apple's previous model was released.
That also may have contributed to smaller gatherings at some Apple locations.