Neither wind, rain nor a classroom will keep iPhone fans away

July 9, 2008

iphone.jpgHere we go…

Two days before the iPhone’s launch, fans around Asia are queuing up to buy Apple’s latest offering. They don’t seem to care that it’s raining or freezing cold or if lining up early means missing work or school.

The July 11 launch will be the first chance, after all,  for Asian consumers to own an iPhone.

“I’ve told my professor I was going to go buy an iPhone, and he gave me permission,” said Hiroyuki Sano, a 24-year-old graduate student who early on Tuesday arrived in rainy Tokyo from Nagoya to be first in line. Sano, speaking to Reuters, and incidentally wearing a T-shirt with an Apple logo, described his professor as an equally big Apple fan. “He sent me off cheerfully.”

The United States has already been through this, when the iPhone first went on sale a year ago. As the New York Times recalls, “TV news coverage was relentless. Hard-core fans camped out to be the first in line. Bloggers referred to Apple’s new product as the ‘Jesus phone’.”

The paper adds, “This time, though, when the iPhone 3G goes on sale in AT&T and Apple stores, iPhone Mania will be considerably more muted. That’s partly because the mystery is gone, partly because the AT&T service costs more and partly because there aren’t many new features in what Apple is calling the iPhone 3G. ”

But let’s be clear: There’s still a boatload of interest in this phone and plenty of people will be talking about it this week, offering their two cents on what they like and dislike about the iPhone.

One big name, the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, is already weighing in, with a mixed review, knocking the battery life but applauding the phone’s introduction of third party software. 

“I’ve been testing the iPhone 3G for a couple of weeks, and have found that it mostly keeps its promises. In particular, I found that doing email and surfing the Internet typically was between three and five times as fast using AT&T’s 3G network as it was with the older AT&T network to which the first iPhone was limited.”

“Bottom line: If you’ve been waiting to buy an iPhone until it dropped in price, or ran on faster cell networks, you might want to take the plunge, if you can live with the higher service costs and the weaker battery life. The same goes for those with existing iPhones who love the device but crave faster cellular data speeds. But if you already own an iPhone, and can usually use Wi-Fi for data, you probably should hold off and get the free software upgrade before deciding whether it’s worth getting the new hardware.”

But is it worth a two-day wait in line, in the rain, wearing a silly T-shirt?

Keep an eye on: 

  • Carl Icahn would have more support in his proxy battle against Yahoo if he pledged not to sell the company for less than $33 a share, said Legg Mason portfolio manager Bill Miller (Reuters
  • WPP Group, the world’s second-largest advertising company, made a hostile 1.08 billion pound ($2.13 billion) bid for Britain’s Taylor Nelson Sofres, challenging its agreed merger with GfK Holdings AG (Reuters)
  • A blind trust run by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is willing to pay between $4.5 billion and $5 billion to buy Merrill Lynch & Co’s 20 percent stake in financial news and data provider Bloomberg LP (NY Post)
  • The smaller of Hollywood’s two performers unions ratified a new prime-time TV contract on Tuesday, undermining a last-ditch bid by the larger, more militant Screen Actors Guild to secure a richer deal (Reuters)
  • NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker is looking to spin off or sell some of the company’s assets when he attends a media conference (NY Post)

(Photo: Reuters)


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