A time-honored ritual for Apple devotees played out yet again on Friday as early buyers formed lines outside of Apple stores and other phone retailers in order to get their hands on the latest, greatest iPhone. Despite an external design nearly identical to that of last year’s phone, the iPhone 4S managed to draw crowds on launch day as well as rack up over 1 million pre-orders.

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Pre-orders for Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone 4S hit the 1 million mark quickly after they became available earlier this month, and the deluge swamped the websites of Apple and its retail partners. This week, hordes of people began queuing up outside stores, some camping out overnight, to get their hands on the device, which hit the shelves Friday.

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Eager crowds have been reported lining up at stores from New Jersey to Japan, in Canada, Australia, the UK, France and Germany.

“People feel very passionate about these products,” Andrew Eisner, director of community and content at Retrevo, told MacNewsWorld. “It’s almost like a cult.”

You’ve Got, I’ve Got, Everyone’s Got a 4S

A recent Retrevo survey led to some interesting findings regarding early iPhone 4S buyers.

“We found most of the people planning to buy an iPhone 4S already owned an iPhone,” Eisner said.

“There were as many iPhone 4 owners as 3G and 3GS owners,” Eisner continued.

There are at least 50 reasons why people make purchases, according to the website Guerilla Marketing.

Attracting praise, increasing enjoyment, possessing beautiful things, avoiding criticism, keeping up with the Joneses and making work easier are among the 50.

Those last two reasons are among those Apple Cofounder Steve Wozniak cited for waiting in line to buy the iPhone 4S in an interview with Cult of Mac.

Being able to interact with the phone by voice using the new Siri feature is another reason “the Woz,” as he’s also known among Apple fans, wanted to get the iPhone 4S. Woz couldn’t sing the praises of Siri, the intelligent voice-enabled assistant on the iPhone 4S, loud enough.
Any Swagger?

One potential sales pitfall for the iPhone 4S is its external design. On the outside, it’s nearly identical to the iPhone 4, dampening the “show-off” factor for owners.

“Apple didn’t redesign the case, so there’s no way people can tell if you have the iPhone 4S,” Eisner pointed out.

“So, if consumers are looking to impress their friends, they’ll have to find another way,” Eisner added.

Perhaps they could show off by leveraging Siri.
Some iPhone 4S Tech Specs

IFixIt did a teardown of the iPhone 4S recently.

Tech specs include a 1GHz dual-core processor, an 8MP fear-facing camera with 1080p video capture capability, a VGA front-facing camera, an LED backlit IPS TFT LCD retina display, and world phone capabilities with support for multiple networks.