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Apple’s record-breaking iPhone launch

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) stores have been busy.

The iPhone 4S launched Friday at 8 a.m. local time around the world, from Australia, Japan to the U.K. and the U.S., and was  welcomed by hoards of people who set up camp just to get their anxious hands on the latest and greatest iPhone.

The annual event, although delayed this year, has become a pure media spectacle, and some attendees must simply enjoy participating.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was first in line at the Los Gatos, California, Apple Store, setting up a chair to kill time on his iPad and put on an all-around show for fans seeking pictures and autographs. It’s hard to imagine he didn’t have the foresight to preorder, since he also stuck it out the old-fashioned way last year.

Demand for this year’s model is unprecedented, with preorders topping a million in one day. Shipping times for new orders placed at the Apple Online Store have slipped to 1-2 weeks, and Apple has reportedly kicked up its orders to meet demand. Telstra (ASX: TLS) has already put the “SOLD OUT for now” sign up on their website.

Estimates for this weekend’s final tally are as high as 4 million units worldwide, more than double the record 1.7 million units moved last year. Apple will shatter that record this year, but by how much?

When has a Google Android device launch ever drawn this much attention?

What do you think? How many iPhone 4S units will Apple sell this weekend? Are you buying one?

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