Apple Inc. is poised to sell as many as 4 million units of its new iPhone 4S this weekend as customers around the world clamor for one of the last products developed under Steve Jobs.
The device, available today in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and U.K., is projected to outperform last year’s introduction of the iPhone 4, which topped 1.7 million units in its introductory weekend. For the iPhone 4S, most estimates range from 2 million to 3 million, with Yankee Group analyst Carl Howe predicting sales of as much as 4 million.
The release represents the end of Apple’s era under Jobs, who died this month after an eight-year battle with cancer. The iPhone 4S has received mostly positive reviews for its voice-recognition software, speedier processor and improved camera.
The device also provides Apple with fresh ammunition in its fight against Google Inc.’s Android software, which will appear on a host of new smartphones in the year-end holiday season.
“It’s going to easily outpace any previous launch,” said Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Co. in New York. It helps that the iPhone is available on the three largest U.S. carriers for the first time, which will bring in new buyers, he said.
Apple also has released an update to its iOS mobile operating system, which customers can download to their existing devices. The software comes with 200 new features and a Web storage service for synchronizing photos, documents, music and other files across different Apple gadgets.