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An Apple fan bends over inside his tent in Denmark.  (Source: Engadget)

New York was a zoo, but an orderly one.  (Source: Engadget)

Chicago wasn't too crazy, but there was a solid contingent of fans outside.  (Source: Engadget)
Today marks Apple's biggest product release of the year

Many people across the country have caught a fever, and the only medicine is more iPhone.  Large lines formed outside Apple stores in major cities across the U.S., in anticipation of the 8 AM release of the long-awaited 3G version of Apple's iconic smart phone. 

The launch was truly an intriguing global phenomenon.

The lines were shorter than the original iPhone release at Apple's 5th Avenue store in New York, according to initial reports, but the crowd exuded a much stronger sense of desperation.  Apple employees were on hand to start wild rounds of cheering, whipping the crowd of Apple lovers into a frenzy.

In New Zealand, first to get the iPhone due to time zone mechanics, huge crowds formed.  The typically sedate Kiwis went wild, some of them camping out, forming crowds as the moment approached.  Japan was among the next to get the phone, with even larger crowds of up to 1,000 forming.  Reporters spotted many of the ever-studious Japanese youth reviewing textbooks while they waited.

Across Europe, in Sweden, the Netherlands and elsewhere, similar excitement was seen.  In Europe iPhones were delivered by armored car and handed off to the store manager.

The exception seemed to be Canada.  In the normally busy city of Calgary, the Canadians seemed somewhat apathetic towards the launch, perhaps due to recent dissatisfaction with Rogers, Canada's leading service provider who picked up the cell phone.  Or perhaps it was the hailing storm that pelted the city overnight.  Nonetheless, citizens reported small crowds camping out over the course of the night.  Quebec was similarly quiet.

One curious phenomena that arose was the iPhone EDGE model fire sale.  Patrons of the iPhone were offering their obsolete models for as little as $50 to would be buyers.  While some might be wary, it seems that it might be a fair deal for some, living outside AT&T's more limited 3G coverage, but within the EDGE network coverage.

Finally getting their sweaty palms on the new iPhone, Apple fans were perhaps a bit surprised to discover it looked amazing like...  their old iPhone.  Perhaps among the cuts that dropped the price from $399 to $199 was the removal of the chic aluminum casing.  In its place is a shiny black (or white, optional on the 16GB model) plastic, a magnet for fingerprints. The move to plastic may also have been made to deal with Apple's ever growing list of radio frequencies supported -- GSM, EDGE, HSDPA, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS.

In the end, the phone still looks pretty much like an iPhone, and people report the plastic to feel solid, and not at all flimsy.  The phone is now curved, fatter at the center and thinner at the edge, a popular design trick to give the illusion of thinness.  Unfortunately, this means that when tapping out an email on a table, the phone rocks back and forth.

In a move that angered some, Apple replaced the old dock, which is no longer compatible with the iPhone.  After Apple "sells" customers on the iPhone, they are in its clutches and it slams them with a $30 fee for their new phone.  Another minor gripe is that the phone does not automatically detect GSM or 3G networks, the user must configure it themselves.

The new phone sports noticeably better quality on 3G and GSM, according to early adopters.  Battery life weighs in close to expectations from Apple with 10 / 5 hours talk on GSM / 3G (respectively), 5 hours 3G data, 6 hours WiFi, 24 hours music and 7 hours video.  The camera is reported to be slightly sharper, but unimpressive, overall.

Music fans will be happy -- the iPhone now has a flush 3.5mm jack.  This will allow normal headphones to be used.  The speaker, which many complained was too quiet, has also been pumped up. 

IPhone tests have showed it to be a speedy performer, with data rates of 300 - 500Kbps in the U.S. and 700-800Kbps on faster foreign networks.  The GPS is also very fast, supplementing satellite acquisition with cell phone tower triangulation.  Also the GPS uses Skyhook's proprietary WiFi-based location system, the only known phone on the market to do so.  Microsoft Exchange, now supported, works well for email, but can only support personal/corporate coexisting accounts, not personal/enterprise.  PowerPoint presentations now can open automatically on the phone as well.

In other iPhone related news, the 2.0 Firmware for the iPhone/iPod Touch which enables the new Apps feature and such goodies as Nike+Apple was leaked for free.  It has now been officially released for $9.99, but it is still floating around for free.  There have been some reports of problems with the free version.  Expect a rapid crackdown from Apple as well.

All in all it was a busy day for Apple worldwide.  No real surprises, no riots, but still the iPhone launch was an impressive display by Apple of its market might.

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RE: Only Apple
By gramboh on 7/11/2008 12:40:53 PM , Rating: 3
I'm in Canada and am planning on buying my first Apple product (iPhone 3G). I walked by the Rogers store in TD Center (downtown mall) at 9:15 (prior to 9:30 opening) and there was a line of about 75+ people! This is a tiny Rogers store in the MALL. I did a 180 and went back to work.

Even if they had enough stock (I'd be surprised if they had more than 20) I wasn't about to wait hours for my turn to come to sign-up (and probably pay an extra $50 on the $299 price of the 16GB model AND $35 activiation, since the voice plan I want is only $25 and not $30+).

I just can't fathom how you would camp outside on a street for a revision to a PHONE. It actually upsets me to see that picture. How pathetic is your life that you dedicate time to an act like that. I'm not even willing to waste an hour in line waiting for people in front of me to sign-up. I'll just wait a week or two.

RE: Only Apple
By barjebus on 7/11/2008 1:26:45 PM , Rating: 2
You're also in Toronto, a place known for chasing fads as badly as New York seems to.

The rest of Canada is most likely going to wait this out and either not adopt it because Rogers and our telecom industry here are a bunch of tools, or Rogers will offer further incentive, especially since the 6GB data plan for 30$ a month is only until August, and then it reverts to the old plan which got everyone so pissed off in the first place, and that's 30$ a month for a 400mb data plan hahaha. Like honestly, I can download a hundred songs off iTunes each month? So that works out to 3 per I'd be paying close to a hundred dollars a month for a super special phone that cost me 199$ to buy (or 299$ if I am feeling super rich) and the only additional benefit to me is downloading 3 mp3's each day?

Wow, technology sure has come along way...

RE: Only Apple
By gramboh on 7/11/2008 3:25:11 PM , Rating: 2
I'm actually in Calgary, and I hate Toronto as much as anyone who doesn't live there (I lived there for 2 years, I know how much that place sucks).

Turns out I should've gone to another Rogers store downtown in the Petro-Canada building. My friend walked by on his way to work at 8:30 and said only 10 people were in line. I went into the store after lunch and they said they had 20 in stock and sold out pretty fast, but everyone in line got one. I put my name down for them to call me when they get more stock, supposedly on Tues or Weds next week.

Re: pricing. Yes it's expensive, but I currently pay ~$65/mo on Telus all in for 200 daytime, 6pm evenings/weekends, Caller ID/voicemail, 500 texts, 200 daytime LD and unlimited 6pm LD.

With Rogers I'll pay $88 all in (with GST) for MY5 (5 numbers unlimited in Canada, covers my LD needs and I really only call 3 numbers often), 250 daytime, 6pm evenings/weekends, 6GB data, $15 visual voicemail/2500 SMS/caller ID pack.

So $23 more a month for basically the same voice as I have now but with effectively unlimited data.

I don't care about iTunes (I'm pretty upset I'll have to install that piece of crap on my Vista box). I will only be using the phone for the browser, GPS and email (ActiveSync).

RE: Only Apple
By DeepBlue1975 on 7/11/2008 4:05:47 PM , Rating: 2
I hear you loud and clear!

That's something I can't get either. It makes me remember of little children: mom buys exactly the same toy to both of their kids, but each of them likes the brother's toy better even though they're exactly the same.

What has this analogy to do with anything at all?
Simple: I think that these fellas camping for long hours and even sometimes more than 24 in a row, believe that the first day's iPhone is a different product than the one they'll get a couple of days or a couple of months later.

The sad and most pathetic part is that they're usually true: if they waited some prudent time before buying, they'd probably get

a) a newer firmware revision with less bugs and better performance.
b) a better price.
or even...

c) both (a) and (b)!

Seriously, I Don't understand these guys. They're completely iNcomprehensible to me.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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