Death of icon Jobs feeds iPhone mania

PARIS - Stores worldwide were gripped Friday by the now familiar scene of gadget geeks scrambling for Apple's latest smartphone, the US giant's first new release since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs.

The iconic chief executive's death brought a more sombre air than usual to some of the Apple shops celebrating the launch of the iPhone 4S, with fans laying flowers alongside the long queues waiting for their chance to buy.

Apple users have always seen themselves as an elite group, and their sense of community was boosted by the tributes for Jobs and jokes about the debacle suffered by Apple rival Blackberry, whose mobile network was disrupted this week. In Frankfurt, scuffles broke out in the queue as shoppers camped overnight, in Paris several of the most prized versions of the model sold out at dawn and in London more than 300 fans mobbed the brand's biggest store.

Some love Apple's range of computers, smartphones and media tablets because they have changed the way consumers relate to technology. In some cases, they have changed users' entire way of life.

"I used to work as a bin man, then I submitted an app that achieved success in 2009. Without Apple as a company I would still be emptying dustbins," said Rob Shoesmith, 30, from Coventry in central England.

Others were still in awe of Job's achievement and in shock at his death.

"It did actually make me want the iPhone more," said 42-year-old forex trader Duncan Hoare. "I was devastated, I didn't actually believe it. He was Apple, the creativity he gave to Apple products is what made them."

In Paris, the Apple store had barriers in place to contain the crowds - both locals and tourists - who kept vigil overnight until its 8:00 am (0600 GMT) opening, before rushing the shelves.

Each customer was given a reference number to regulate the queue but also to avoid disappointment.

"If you want the 64-gigabyte model, in black or in white, you'll have to come back tomorrow," a security guard cried.

Friday's launch was not to extend to all corners of the planet, but the phones themselves soon will, with Brazilian tourist Ricardo up at 5:00 am at the Paris store to be sure he could be the first to bring one home.

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