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Applemania: Even the iPhone 4S Looks Popular

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The death of one business leader has been compared to that of a rock star.

Just as fans snatched up the music of John Lennon, Ray Charles or Michael Jackson in the days and months after their deaths, now Apple acolytes are lining up to buy iPhones and iPads in memory of the company’s founder, Steve Jobs.

Low-tech memorials of flowers and photos, and handwritten messages are being placed outside Apple Stores around the world, as The Wall Street Journal reports today. At Apple’s flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York, mourners scrawled messages to Steve Jobs on the scaffolding surrounding the location’s famous glass-cube entrance, the report said.  In Beijing, one customer said he bought an iPhone today in honor of Jobs’s legacy, noting “this is truly the end of an era.”

While there’s no sales data available yet for the hours since Steve Jobs’s death was announced last night, the company’s new iPhone 4S — which was given a lukewarm reception following its unveiling this week — has suddenly taken on mythological status. Some Apple devotees across the blogosphere are even speculating that the model number — 4S — stands for “For Steve.”

And many retail experts predict shoppers — from the truly Apple-obsessed to the company’s casual fans — will hit Apple stores and other retailers to snap up his products. “Steve Jobs was one of the few people who had that rock star status in a quintessentially non-hip industry,” says L. J. Shrum, president of the Society for Consumer Psychology. When people are grieving or are reminded of their own mortality, they restore their sense of belonging – by shopping, he said, “Buying nostalgic products is one way of connecting with the past.”

The surge in sales, however, will likely be short term, say experts. The true effect of Jobs’ death on Apple’s product line won’t be known — or felt — for years. The company is infamous for planning its products and launches far into the future. When it introduces its next laptop, phone, music player, that product will surely bear Jobs’ magic touch. The first truly post-Jobs products are still years away.

And unlike the typical pattern for posthumous memorabilia, prices of Apple products aren’t likely to spike to cash in on the sudden demand. Apple retains a tight grip on the pricing of its products. iPads, iPods and iPhones are rarely discounted, and are sold for the same amount at Apple stores as they are other retail outlets. That said, prices on the secondary market for old iPhone models will likely jump, says Anthony Scarsella, chief gadget officer of resale site Gazelle.com. “With the passing of Jobs, we predict trades rapidly increasing over the next 60 days,” he says.

The release of a new iPhone always leads to long lines and shortages in some places, so given the heightened interest there’s a chance the 4S may be hard to come by at first. That’s because the iPhone 4S, despite being a long-planned incremental upgrade, will take on intense sentimental value, analysts say. “There may be some people who will want to buy it since it represents the last creation of Steve Jobs,” says Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org. (Apple was unavailable for comment.)

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    • By WebOsPublisher

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      08/11/2010 – Editorial.Iconshock
      4 Comments
      Web devices
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      Rafal November 13th
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    • You have to admire Smart Money for having the guts to leave this silly story up after its basic premise has been destroyed. Over a million iPhone 4S’s were sold in the first 24 hours, not because of sentiment but because a) there was pent-up demand from people whose contracts had run out and were waiting, b) the SIRI interface has captured peoples’ imagination, and c) it’s a significant improvement over its predecessor.

    • @ Some Where – you clearly never owned an Apple laptop. Just like the HP calculators it is designed different and may take some initial curve to get used to but it is a more elegant presentation of information and the quality of the OS & hardware is far superior to any Winderz junk. Winderz 7 is mainly a copy of OSX exept it doesnt work as efficiently or as well. Winderz 8 may come closer.

      More Lemmings follow Winderz cause its cheaper, not because its better, which it most certainly isn’t.

    • The news following Jobs death says it all. He was one of a kind and not soon to be imitated, much less replicated.

    • Apple is clearly for the visual only. I find Apples Technology to be some of the hardest to use. Real Computer users use Windows or Linux, Far better than being a Lemming and following apple.

      Or as some will say, a Lemming of a different color, but one that works best in the corporate world rather than a toy for home and school and Graphic world only.

      Story above is terrible,

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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