Samsung taking patent war to iPhone 5

Long queues for iPhone 5 rollout despite glitches

South Korea's Samsung Electronics said Friday it was considering adding Apple's new iPhone 5 to a patent infringement case as part of a long-running global legal battle between the rival smartphone giants.

Samsung officials said the company would look into amending its side of an ongoing patent lawsuit in a US court to include the latest Apple gadget, which went on sale across Asia Friday and is due to hit US stores later in the day.

"Our company considers adding Apple's iPhone 5 to the (patent infringement) case... but we cannot say when," a Samsung spokesman told AFP.

"Our decision will be made after our company has analysed the iPhone 5 to see what aspects of its device constitutes patent infringement."

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted market watchers as saying Samsung may use its long-term evolution (LTE) patent portfolio to attack the iPhone 5 -- the first Apple phone to use the fourth-generation telecom network.

Samsung and Apple -- respectively the world's number one and two smartphone makers -- have been at loggerheads over dozens of patent lawsuits in 10 nations, accusing each other of copying technologies and designs.

Last month, a California court ordered Samsung to pay $1.05 billion for patent infringement. The South Korean firm has appealed the decision.

Samsung, in a statement late Thursday, accused Apple of continuing to take "aggressive legal measures that will limit market competition".

It added: "Under these circumstances, we have little choice but to take the steps necessary to protect our innovations and intellectual property rights."     

Long queues for iPhone 5 rollout despite glitches

Apple's iPhone 5 hit stores in a festive global rollout Friday, with long queues of devotees undeterred by a lukewarm welcome from experts for the smartphone and complaints about its new mapping system.

The lines of eager fans outside retail stores looked set to make the latest generation iPhone another commercial smash for the trend-setting US company, coming after Apple said it had received more than two million orders online.

Australians were the first to get their hands on the device. In Sydney the faithful filmed the experience on their iPhones and iPads as staff inside clapped and cheered when the doors opened at 8:00 am (2200 GMT Thursday; 2am Friday, UAE time).

But the event was also hijacked by companies looking for free publicity, with the first dozen or so in the queue wearing promotional T-shirts and caps or carrying advertising materials.

"Seven of us are here from our company, since midday Tuesday," said Todd Foot, 24, who was first in the line and works for an organisation that reviews mobile phones.

"We've actually had telephone hook-ups with the first in the lines in New York and London. It's been a bit crazy."

Compared to the iPhone 4S, Apple's new smartphone boasts a bigger display, stronger battery and faster connection to the latest 4G networks. It is lighter and slimmer, and contains tweaks designed to improve the user's experience.

But many analysts say Apple has fallen short as other companies such as Samsung improve rival offerings powered by Google's Android operating system.

"Unless Apple ups its device innovation game, we may be seeing Apple's iOS empire approaching its zenith," Tony Costa of Forrester Research said.

However, enthusiasm among early-bird shoppers was undimmed as iPhone 5 sales began too in Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Later Friday, sales will start in France, Germany, Britain, the United States and Canada.

Ryoho Yamashita, a 23-year-old student, had queued since midnight at a Softbank store in Tokyo and said there had been a celebratory atmosphere among those waiting.

"It's like a festival that I enjoy every year," he said, holding his new purchase as he acclaimed the smartphone's light weight and speed of connection.

In Hong Kong, grey marketeers pounced on anyone who emerged from the city's official Apple store, offering a premium for their phone in the hope of re-selling it for even more given shortages in the retail market.

"I paid about HK$8,000 ($1,030) for the iPhone just now. We'll sell it for around HK$9,000 to HK$10,000," said Suen, a reseller who refused to give his full name. The normal retail price starts at HK$5,588 in the Apple store.

In Singapore, staff at an Apple reseller were turning people away, having run out of phones within hours of opening.

In Tokyo, engineer Masaru Mitsuya, 30, shrugged off some shortcomings with the new iPhone's built-in iOS 6 operating system that have attracted heavy criticism online.

"On the whole the new product is better," he said. "But I know the mapping function is not great. A station suddenly appears in the sea or Korean characters appear. But I'll survive by downloading Google-made software."

Apple faces growing criticism from users around the world after it ditched a maps application made by its rival Google in favour of a native app that is reportedly riddled with errors.

A day after the new iOS 6 system was released, users from countries including the United States, Britain, China, France and Japan protested that the new maps misplace some landmarks and leave others off altogether.

The global launch could also be affected by a call from unions for staff at Apple's 13 stores in France to go on strike Friday over a pay dispute.

Apple, whose shares soared past US$700 in anticipation of the launch, says the iPhone 5 will be available in 100 countries by year's end.

Some analysts have tipped Apple to sell 10 million units globally in the opening days and 50 million before the end of 2012, giving a small but welcome boost to the US economy.

French join in iPhone 5 frenzy as strike threat falls flat

Apple's flagship store in France was doing a roaring trade in the sale of the iPhone 5 on Friday as a threatened strike by workers over a pay dispute failed to materialise.

Anthony Shahir, a 19-year-old Italian DJ who had queued outside the store since Wednesday morning, was the first to get his hands on the latest incarnation of the iconic device when the doors opened at 8:00 am (0600 GMT) on Friday.

He emerged shortly afterwards to cheers from the crowd and admitted his relief that his trip from Rome had not been in vain.

"It was worth the wait," said Shahir, who DJs under the name Anthony Fitch and had claimed to be the first Italian to buy the iPhone 4 in 2010.

The smaller of two unions representing workers in Apple's 13 French stores had called for a strike on what was set to be the shops' busiest day of the year.

The call appeared to have gone largely unheeded, although union official Thomas Bordage said the fight for a a wage hike and the payment of a 13th month of salary, which is a common perk in France, would go on.

"The company has thrown an offer of luncheon vouchers at us as in an attempt to calm things down but we will go on demanding improved conditions for every Apple worker in France," Bordage said.

Apple management has resisted pay rises by arguing that the French branch of the firm lost 10 million euros ($13 million) last year.

A 300-metre-long line of devotees had formed outside the Apple store in the Opera district of central Paris before the opening. There were metal barriers outside to regulate the flow of people into the store.

Outside, a group of former Apple dealers who were sacked in July, shouted slogans demanding they be taken back, shouting "Apple you have sent jobless people to the streets", and "It is us who established Apple in France."

Apple, whose shares soared past US$700 in anticipation of the launch, says the iPhone 5 will be available in 100 countries by year's end.

Some analysts have tipped Apple to sell 10 million units globally in the opening days and 50 million before the end of 2012, giving a small but welcome boost to the US economy.

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