Only a handful of people bothered to sleep outside Apples flagship UK store on Londons Regent Street last night, awaiting the moment when at 6.02 p.m. (GMT) today the long-awaited iPhone would go on sale.
Apple has struck a similar deal to the AT&T deal in the United States with UK operator 02 (hence the 6.02 p.m. launch time). An O2 spokesman said the operator will have 430 stores selling the phone, in addition to the retailer Carphone Warehouse and Apple stores. All together about 1,300 retail outlets will be selling the iPhone today. More than 1.4 million iPhones have already been sold in the United States.
The fanfare over the iPhone in the UK is not expected to be as great as it was when the iPhone was launched in the United States five months ago, according to Emma Mohr-McClune, principal analyst of Wireless Services Europe at the research firm Current Analysis.
"There is just not the same sensation in the UK market; its not really a European phone because it doesnt have 3G, also Apple doesnt have the same brand following in Europe as it does in the U.S. There is an awareness in the European operator community that the iPhone will be a firework, but not the big bang that it was in the U.S."
Another reason could be that the iPhone is one of the most expensive on the market, priced at £269, and the buyer must also sign an 18-month contract, the cheapest of which is £35 a month.
Click here to read more about Apples promise to enable third-party applications on the iPhone.
According to O2 this includes text and voice bundles, as well as unlimited access to its data network and access to The Clouds 7,500 wireless hotspots. However, UK users are used to receiving a free handset when signing such a long-term lease.
However, the 02 spokesman said the firm is expecting the iPhone to being the fastest selling mobile ever in the UK. "The UK are bound to have a different response to the U.S., but there is still a massive following over here."
Certainly the outside the 02 shop in Putney, London, there was a line of about 30 people with much longer lines, almost 10 times that amount, outside the flagship stores on Oxford Street and Regent Street in central London.
First in the queue was Michael Chase, an interactive designer. Hell be using his iPhone mostly to stay connected to information. "The Internet connection and use of the wireless hotspots around the City will mean I can get on the Web, get information I need and test any Web stuff I have designed. The price is not ideal, but if you use the phone properly then it is worth it, if not then it just become s a nonsensical gadget." p>Also waiting in the queue was Kristof Kowalski, an IT consultant. "I love the design and usability of the iPhone," he said.
"Im not impressed with being tied to one operator for 18 months, and would have much preferred 12 months. But I was already with 02 so it wasnt that much hassle for me, and I think this will hold its own for years to come."
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