THE most eagerly awaited gadget of the year, Apple’s iPhone, goes on sale in Britain and Germany this week to test European appetite for the mobile phone that thousands queued for in the US in June. Consumer electronics company Apple, mobile phone retail
er Carphone Warehouse and mobile operator O2 will open stores today in Britain for just four hours for a hoped-for stampede for the touch-screen phone.
In Germany it will be sold by Deutsche Telekom’s mobile phone division T-Mobile. Hundreds of extra staff have been taken on, and companies are hoping Apple’s combined iPod music player, Web browser and camera will catch the public imagination in time for Christmas.
O2 UK, owned by Spanish telecoms group Telefonica, secured the exclusive network deal for the phone in Britain and expects the device to be its fastest-selling handset yet, with around 200 000 selling by the three outlets by Christmas and the New Year.
Carphone Warehouse, Europe’s top independent mobile phone retailer, said last week that it could sell up to 10 000 in the first day. T-Mobile has not given any sales forecasts.
Not all analysts are convinced.
Most handsets in Europe are subsidised in return for customers signing up to contracts lasting perhaps 18 months or two years, but iPhones will cost £269 in Britain on top of an 18-month contract costing a minimum of £35 per month.
In Germany it will cost 399 euros with a two-year minimum monthly fee of 49 euros. Apple slashed the iPhone price in the United States by US$200 to US$399 in September.
Unlike many other phones, it will run on enhanced second generation (2G) networks, rather than the faster 3G system, though it will automatically switch onto speedy local wireless, or wifi, networks where these are available. — Reuters.