Saturday, July 12, 2008

iPhone 3G Now in Japan, London Launch Marred by Software Problem

Amid cheers, queues and smoke, Apple's iPhone made its Japan debut today morning. The launch marks the first time the iPhone has been available in Japan and the chance to be one of the first to own one attracted more than 1,000 people to the store of Japanese carrier Softbank in Tokyo's trendy Harajuku neighborhood by the time sales began at 7a.m.

As the countdown clock reached zero those waiting cheered and special-effects smoke enveloped a crowd of more than 100 journalists and photographers who had turned out to see the launch of the handset.

"This is the year that the cell phone becomes an Internet-connecting machine," said Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank, speaking in front of the store just before the launch. "Today is the day that will make it real, and I think it's a historic day."

It took about 20 minutes for the first customer to emerge from the shop clutching his new iPhone. He was actually third in line but had managed to get his application processed the fastest so at first excused himself for beating out the two people who had queued ahead of him. "It's great isn't it," he said. "I've already used it to call my girlfriend." For many prospective buyers the queuing didn't finish at 7a.m. Softbank will begin sales at its other stores and through at electronics retailers from noon on Friday.

Meanwhile, software compatibility problems marred the launch of the iPhone 3G at Apple's flagship store in London, where customers had difficulty activating their new phones.

Apple has an exclusive deal with network operator O2 in the U.K. —but O2's web-based activation system requires the use of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser to register a new phone: It won't work with the Safari browser bundled in Apple's Mac OS X.

In its Regent Street store, Apple had installed VMware Fusion desktop virtualization software on some of its Macintosh computers, allowing them to run Internet Explorer on Windows, but the activation process was still not working.

"It just goes dead," said would-be customer Mark Phipps, who left the store frustrated and without an iPhone 3G.

"They wouldn't reserve us one, which is a real kick in the teeth," he said.

Phipps is one of at least three customers that left the store disappointed by the delays.

Another, Josh Young, said the activation process was completely broken. He planned to return later.

The short line that had formed outside the store by the time it opened at 8 a.m. quickly moved inside, but two hours later the line had lengthened and extended out onto the street again.
Adapted from http://www.pcworld.in/india/news/Hardware/iPhone_3G_Now_in_Japan,_London_Launch_Marred_by_Software_Problem/5210162/9

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