New iPhone snapped up

Fri Jul 11, 2008 3:27pm EDT
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By Adrian Bathgate and Christine Kearney

WELLINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc's new iPhone made its hotly awaited debut on Friday with buyers storming stores in Asia and queues forming in Europe, although network problems marred the launch in the United States.

Sales of the device, which combines a music and video player, cellphone and Web browser, kicked off in New Zealand, where a 22-year-old student became its first owner.

"I'm going to put this on charge, have a play around with it and have a nice long sleep," said Jonny Gladwell, who queued in freezing temperatures for around 60 hours to be the world's first to buy the iPhone at a minute past midnight on Friday.

In the United States, consumers were excited by the new phone's promise of faster Web speeds compared with the first iPhone and support for third-party software such as instant messaging and video games.

But many did not get a chance to try out the new gadget due to problems activating service a few hours after sales began in New York. The huge numbers of new users appeared to overwhelm Apple's systems and cause problems for the old iPhones as well.

"My old phone doesn't work and my new phone doesn't work. I'm going to have to find a pay phone. Do they still make pay phones?" said Deena Hadi, 23, a marketing analyst who waited for three hours at Apple's Fifth Avenue store in New York.

With its latest device, Apple, the creator of the Macintosh computer and iPod, hopes to ride on burgeoning demand for smartphones, an area phone makers such as South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Taiwan's High Tech Computer Corp and Finland's Nokia Oyj are fighting to dominate.

The new iPhone's e-mail capability squarely targets the market of Research in Motion Ltd's Blackberry.   Continued...

<p>Tatiana Rodriguez takes a photo with her new iPhone 3G at an Apple Store in New York July 11, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>