Apple Iphone UK Launch

The most eagerly awaited gadget in history went on sale at precisely 6.02pm - a gimmick reflecting the role of O2 as sole network provider - to cheers from thousands of people who had queued in the cold to buy one.

Some had camped overnight under umbrellas to ensure they would be among the first to get their hands on the £269 combined phone, digital music player, camera and internet browser.

They turned up in force despite suggestions that could save their money and buy "unlocked" handsets in France when they go on sale later this month.

All iPhone owners in the UK have to sign up to an 18-month contract with O2, costing up to £55 a month.

But French law dictates that mobile phone users should be able to use their handsets on the network provider of their choice.

This means, in theory, that Britons will be able to travel to France, buy an unlocked phone and then use it with their network provider in the UK.

But that possibility did nothing to deter Nik Fletcher, 22, a computer student who set up camp outside Apple's flagship London store 34 hours before the device went on sale.

"It's not really an insult to me being labelled a geek or a nerd," he said. "I am someone that works in the technology industry. It's my passion. If the iPhone delivers on its promise and hype it will have all been worth it."

However, many in the queue said they were planning to "unlock" the phone to make it work with other network providers and avoid having to sign up to the O2 contract.

The website shopping.com, which provides links to the Carphone Warehouse and O2 sites, received 27,000 searches for the iPhone between 8.30am and 12.30pm today.

At the peak of activity, 10,000 used the site to search for the Apple gadget in just one hour.

The phones are being sold at more than 1,300 Apple, O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores across Britain.

(bottom picture shows first UK iPhone buyer)

source: bbc, telegraph, tomj.org

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