Apple expects record weekend sales

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus hit stores around the world on Friday, kicking off what is expected to be a record weekend of sales as customers scramble to buy Apple Inc’s marquee product in pink for the first time.

Eager buyers – joined by at least one robot – flocked to Apple stores from Sydney to New York and San Francisco, itching to get their hands on new models boasting an improved camera and a screen feature Apple calls ‘3D Touch’, which performs different functions depending on how hard a user presses.

For all the sophisticated technology packed into the new iPhones, customers interviewed by Reuters were most excited by a more low-tech feature: the ‘rose gold’ finish, a new shade that Apple introduced with the current phone.

The novel hue – essentially sparkling pink – accounted for more than a third of early in-store sales, according to FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives, citing conversations with buyers.

Another of the hundreds gathered outside the store in downtown San Francisco was pink-haired software developer Jo Engo, 37, who has lobbied Apple leaders past and present for a phone in his favorite color.

Despite the crowds, the scene was less frenetic than usual at the San Francisco store, perhaps because more people now order phones online, and the release of a new device has become routine.

One store at least was buzzing, as Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook made a surprise visit to company’s store in Georgetown, Washington, to raucous cheers from employees and shoppers.

Analysts expect 12 million to 13 million phones to fly off the shelves in the first weekend, up from more than 10 million last year when the launch of the hugely successful iPhone 6 was delayed in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market.

Apple, whose shares were largely unchanged on Friday, has said pre-orders suggested sales were on pace to beat last year’s first-weekend performance. It usually announces first weekend sales on the following Monday.

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