Thousands buy iPhones in UK

Thousands buy iPhones in UK

The U.K. and German iPhone launch weekend has seen heavy trading as many move to sign-up for an iPhone.

Large crowds greeted the London launch of the device at the Regent Street Apple store. Similar scenes took place in Glasgow, Scotland. O2 and Carphone Warehouse shops across London were open late for launch day, and while the crowds weren't banging the doors down, small pockets of people could be seen purchasing iPhones.

Neither Apple nor O2 have commented on just how many iPhones were sold in the U.K. this weekend, but in Germany T-Mobile claims to have sold 10,000 of them by the afternoon of launch day.

The CEO of T-Mobile parent company, Deutsche Telekom, Rene Obermann, said: "We're not giving out precise forecasts, but registrations on our website lead me to believe (Christmas) will be a strong sales period. The real question for me is whether we have enough devices and can meet customer demand."

In the UK, O2 reportedly managed an expectation-breaking 8,000 iPhone activations on the first day of launch, and has confirmed it's on a five-year exclusive contract with Apple. While 8,000 activations have taken place, actual sales may have been higher.

Reports claim a 3G version of the iPhone shouldn't be expected before the end of 2008. Analysts note that the lack of 3G support may limit the impact of the first-generation of the device in Europe, where mobile-savvy consumers are used to the luxury of the standard.

The cost of the device may also prove its undoing in Europe. Ovum analyst, Jonathan Arber, said: "The relatively expensive contracts on offer with the iPhone will represent an attractive revenue stream over 24 months, but the high up-front and monthly cost and long lock-in could put off some users in a market where free handsets are the norm."

The analyst also criticized O2's UK EDGE coverage, which is currently at around 30 per cent, though the company is upgrading its mobile towers across the UK to widen that coverage.

"O2 has pledged to increase this (coverage), it will take both time and a considerable investment. When you consider that sales and support investment will also be needed, it is taking quite a gamble on the iPhone's success," the analyst said.

Meanwhile early user reports on the iPhone suggest that some users suffering poor EDGE performance have been able to improve their signal simply by switching their iPhones off and on again.

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