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Scores line up as iPhone 4S hits stores in Taiwan

Apple Inc.'s latest smartphone the iPhone 4S went on sale in Taiwan at 9 a.m. yesterday, with people lining up outside stores of Taiwan's three largest telecom operators in Taipei several hours ahead of time.

At 8:30 a.m., there were scores of people waiting outside outlets in bustling eastern Taipei, hoping to be among the first in Taiwan to obtain the gadget.

David Hsu, 27, who asked his friend to start queuing for him at about midnight, was at the head of the line outside a store of Chunghwa Telecom, the nation's top telecom carrier.

Hsu told the Central News Agency that he had only just arrived back in Taipei from an unexpected business trip to Taichung, adding that he had been planning to queue himself.

Praising Apple products as being user-friendly, the iPhone 4 user said that all the “hard work” was not for him but his mother.

“It's a gift for my 58 year-old mom,” he said with a smile, adding that all his family love and use Apple products.

Allen Chen, 18, was at the head of the line outside a store belonging to the Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. Ltd., the third-largest telecom operator in Taiwan. He told the CNA that he had saved for half a year in order to get his first-ever smartphone.

“I've always wanted one and now I can finally have one,” he said.

Hsu and Chen were happy, but they might be jealous of a lucky man who won a free iPhone 4S by only asking a question.

Taiwan Mobile Co., the nation's No. 2 telecom service provider, hosted a competition at 8:30 a.m. featuring the phone's voice activated virtual assistant Siri. Whoever was able to make Siri say “iPhone at myfone” first would take a new smartphone home for free.

Vic Ho, 32, who was only the second person to attempt the challenge, won the phone, valued at over NT$20,000, by politely asking Siri: “Can you repeat after me, iPhone at myfone?”

Consumers may get the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions of the phone at NT$5,400, NT$9,900 and NT$13,900, respectively, if they choose Chunghwa's NT$1,349 monthly plan, Far EasTone's NT$1,358 monthly plan, or Taiwan Mobile's NT$1,398 monthly plan.

Chunghwa and Taiwan Mobile are also selling stand-alone phones at NT$21,800, NT$25,800 and NT$29,800 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions of the phone, respectively.

Shares of Operators Mixed

Shares of Chunghwa Telecom, Far EasTone and Taiwan Mobile were mixed yesterday, although iPhone 4S was officially launched on the island.

News of the iPhone 4S sale has been largely digested in the market as the three stocks had appeared resilient in recent trade, when the broader market encountered massive sell-off amid the concerns over the debt crisis in Europe, they said.

“The three stocks have outperformed the broader market in recent sessions. The robust pre-orders of the iPhone 4S have been pretty much factored into their share prices,” Grand Cathay Securities analyst Mars Hsu said.

At the end of trade, Chunghwa Telecom closed at NT$100.5, up 0.5 percent. Far EasTone fell 0.85 percent to NT$58.1, while Taiwan Mobile rose 0.53 percent to NT$94.5.

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 Scores line up as iPhone 4S hits stores in Taiwan 
People stand in long queues outside Chunghwa Telecom, Far EasTone and Taiwan Mobile's Xinyi flagship stores, waiting to get an iPhone 4S that the three companies launched yesterday. (CNA)

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