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Asians in iPhone 'gold rush'

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SINGAPORE - Asian consumers have snapped up Apple's first gold-coloured iPhone, but many were left disappointed and frustrated at missing out during Friday's highly anticipated global launch of the 5S. 

An employee examines a gold iPhone 5S at the Apple Store in London. (AFP Photo)

From Japan to Singapore, China and Hong Kong, there was a particular clamour for the gold-coloured version, closely associated with wealth in Asian cultures.

It was not clear how many of the golden 5S - also available in silver and "space grey" - were available.

Some people had been able to pre-order, if they were fast enough, but those who had not queued early - or even overnight - to get a piece of the "gold rush".

"Our gold-colour iPhones were completely sold out within four minutes when we opened online reservations on September 18," a spokesman for market leader Singapore Telecom told AFP.

Long lines snaked through SingTel's launch event at the cavernous Marina Bay Sands convention centre as thousands of Apple fans who had made online reservations trooped there to pick up their new devices.

John Yap, the first in line, said he decided to buy the golden iPhone because it was "refreshing and a welcome change from the look of all the previous models".

The 24-year-old accountant queued for nearly 12 hours before he got his hand on a 64-gigabyte version, but said the wait was well worth it.

"I think it's worth the time especially when it is something you cherish. It is just like queing for concert tickets," he told AFP.

A spokeswoman for StarHub, another Singaporean carrier, said the gold iPhone 5S was sold out within an hour in its 10 outlets across the city-state.

In China, the news website sh.eastday.com reported Wednesday that the gold iPhone 5S models were quickly bought up after online pre-orders began Tuesday morning.

Those looking to get their hands on Apple's much-coveted latest offering said they did not mind the cost of the 5S - at least 5,288 yuan ($864).

In Beijing, Apple customer Yao Guibing said: "I've been using iPhone since its first generation. The colour is very special. I believe in Apple's idea of design, so golden colour must be excellent.

"Though some people on the internet say the golden colour is for nouveau riche, I don't think so."

In status-conscious Hong Kong, the golden version was almost nowhere to be found.

"We were able to acquire the 16 gigabyte models, we've gotten around 30 to 40 of the gold ones," said Lau Chi-kong, of G-world Mobile in the commercial district of Mong Kok.

"I think Apple released a limited amount of the gold version."

Lau will sell the 16 gigabyte version of the gold coloured phone for HK$10,800, almost double its retail price, he said.

"There is demand for it, everyone wants it," he added.
Some customers who were left empty-handed vented their frustration online.

"What's the point of having priority to purchase when [companies don't] even provide sufficient phones for us?" asked Lipingg Jaimelody on M1's Facebook page.

"Launches at 8am, and (at) 8.40am gold was all sold out."

Related search: Apple, iPhone 5S, gold, Singapore, China, Hong Kong

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