UK prepares for iPhone fever

UK prepares for iPhone fever

Fans queue in the rain as launch nears

Apple's much vaunted iPhone goes on sale to hungry mobile phone purchasers in the UK at 6pm today, selling at Apple Stores, Carphone Warehouse outlets, O2 shops and online, but from Thursday queues were forming outside London's Apple store on Regent Street, with early birds suffering a night of rain for their troubles.

It was a cold night in the capital, but fortunately for these Apple fans, a customer services representative at the store said that they are unlikely to be disappointed.

Although interest is set to be high the store has "enough" devices on sale to meet the demand according to the spokesman, who was unable to provide any numbers relating to the store's allocation of units. However, he did say that people were limited to buying two devices, and the shop did not expect to sell out.

Business users will be able to buy more than the "two per customer" allocation, if they call the store's business department on 02071539000, he added.

The UK launch of the iconic phone has been backed by a number of companies. Entertainment firm Jamster has set up a web portal offering music, videos and games for all iPhone owners, which will be free to access at launch.

Meanwhile, Geodesic Information Systems has created a version of its Mundu instant messaging service for the device.

Visto is offering a free 60-day trial of its push email and directory service to try and tempt business users of the smartphone.

However, the iPhone has not gone without criticism from some observers.

Analyst Aleksandra Bosnjak, from StrategyEye Digital Media, described the device as "a toddler product without the sophistication of some of its rivals".

Bengt Nordström, a consultant with VeriSign, added that the lack of 3G shows that Apple "does not know the European market or has not thought it through".

Immersion, which makes tactile feedback technology, also pointed out that the iPhone lacks, well, tactile feedback technology.