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Kiwis snap up new iPhone

Published: 6:05AM Friday July 11, 2008 Source: ONE News/Reuters

First sales of Apple's new iPhone kicked off in New Zealand on Friday with buyers, some of whom had camped in line for days, crowding outlets to buy the latest high-tech gadget to hit store shelves.

The first new generation iPhone in the world was sold to Auckland man Jonny Gladwell at one minute past midnight after he spent three days and two cold nights queuing with around 150 others waiting for the moment.

He is expected to spend the next few days trying to come to grips with the 3G phone's new technology.

It is the first time iPhones have been available in New Zealand, but expensive monthly charges to run the phones are putting some people off.

The 22-year-old student had been in the Auckland queue for more than 50 hours and says he has had a few stares.

"My friends put me up do a dare and I just decided to go with it. They're putting money together and buying me the phone, and the challenge was to see if I could survive on the streets for two nights and three days," says Gladwell.

Diehards around the world have been queuing up for the new iPhone.

The big thing is 3G and that's fast internet over your mobile so that opens up a world of possibilities for things like YouTube, watching video while you're on the go, on the bus," says Scott Bartley from PC World.

A $199 phone ties owners into a $250 a month contract for the next two years.

Anxious wait over

The new iPhone - a music and video player, cellphone and web terminal in one - is an updated version of the original that sold to 270,000 people within days of its June 2007 launch.

After launching in New Zealand, sales of the new iPhone will roll out to more than 20 countries across the globe.

Several hundred people waited outside Vodafone shops in New Zealand's three main cities, supplied with music, food and entertainment, before a spirited countdown saw the first person in the world politely ushered through the door to the counter.

A Vodafone New Zealand spokeswoman said more than 400 phones were sold in early morning trade. Analysts expect the new iPhone to draw as many as 10.5 million buyers worldwide this year and - with six million of the older devices already in use - help Apple beat its target to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008.

The next-generation iPhone is the first taste for Asian consumers of the multimedia device, with earlier models only available in the Unites States and Europe.

The hotly awaited gadget has faster web links than the first iPhone, supports third-party software like games and instant messaging and is heavily subsidised by a coterie of phone carriers, some of which are giving it away to lure new users.

Queues formed in the pre-designated Asian markets as early as Wednesday. In London and Hong Kong, carriers were swamped by tens of thousands of online applications.

Still, analysts say the picture isn't all rosy for Apple.

Many doubt the device will be popular among mainstream customers in Japan, Asia's largest retail market, as it does not support the television services or electronic payment features so widely used in the country.

Others point to a large and vibrant grey market of fakes or "unlocked" phones - hacked to work on other carriers' networks - in China and Southeast Asia, which is expected to cannibalise demand.

There have also been complaints about high rates and rigid agreements.

To help safeguard revenue, many carriers are making buyers of subsidised iPhones commit to contracts they cannot break without a penalty, to discourage them from unlocking the phone to work on other networks.