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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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iTunes all screwed up...
By mpjesse on 7/11/2008 12:43:40 PM , Rating: 3
I got in line at my local AT&T store at 5:30AM today. Here's my chronicle...

The whole in store activation thing was a no-go from the minute the doors opened. I'm in mountain time zone and news traveled quick that iTunes was unresponsive all over the world. So whtat they're doing is selling phones, setting up the contracts, and sending everyone home to activate the phones.

Well iTunes is still overloaded. I'm an existing ATT customer, so my phone works (thank god!). I'm also able to sync my music. But using iTunes for anything other that syncing or playing music is not happening right now.

I would imagine all the "new" ATT customers are banging their heads against the wall. They actually have to activate their service through iTunes, until then their iPhones are bricks.

As for ATT, they did a pretty good job I think. They gave the first 30 people in line (me) a nice canvas folding chair, free t-shirts, starbucks coffee, donuts, and they had a DJ/tent setup. All the reps were patient and knowledgable. Overall I'd have to say it was a great experience... now if I could just get iTunes to work...

It's all APPLE's FAULT!

RE: iTunes all screwed up...
By walk2k on 7/11/2008 12:58:41 PM , Rating: 2
I got in line at my local AT&T store at 5:30AM
It's all APPLE's FAULT
Are you sure?

Maybe if you think real hard, can you see where you failed here?

I got in line at my local AT&T store at 5:30AM


RE: iTunes all screwed up...
By thebrown13 on 7/11/2008 2:55:35 PM , Rating: 2
For real, if this was nazi germany you'd be drug out into the road and shot for being so retarded.

RE: iTunes all screwed up...
By Weiser on 7/11/2008 3:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'm honestly surprised this isn't getting the majority of the press.

I am a 1st gen iPhone owner and went to update my software today before work and am now carrying an iBrick around in my pocket all day due to the iTunes problems. So not only is this launch screwing the new customers with nice new iBricks it is making some current customers lose service temporarily. Other than the apparent volume of sales it seems like a pretty disasterous launch...

RE: iTunes all screwed up...
By Weiser on 7/11/2008 3:21:52 PM , Rating: 2
So....just after I posted that this came up.

I guess the press on this topic is increasing.

RE: iTunes all screwed up...
By crystal clear on 7/12/2008 7:20:31 AM , Rating: 1
As an onlooker who never buys Apple products ,as their prices are just a rip off,not worth the money you pay for.

I observe the following-

Apple's latest phone isn't really about the U.S. It's about the rest of the world. Apple will sell the iPhone in 22 countries beginning this Friday, July 11th. By the end of the year, Apple is shooting for 70 countries in total.

This for Apple is the first time & a learning experience,they are NOT YET READY for such a worldwide release.

They lack the experience of say Nokia in this field.

I bet their servers are overloaded & cannot handle the load/traffic.

Apple will have to do a major upgrade to its servers,to handle the new incresed traffic.

As I see it - this iPhone is more about software than hardware....its a software platform.

Any new software has the glitches/flaws that over the time are fixed,incl security & compatibility etc.

iPhones success will depend heavily on the software support that Apple will provides.

Software that works-dependable-reliable ......

iPhones are designed on "JOBS" vision of the iPhone-

Great software packaged by elegant harware

All current & future iPhones will have major emphasis on software & less on hardware.

You pay(more) for the software & less for the hardware.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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