There was nothing wrong with the record-breaking reception for the iPhone 4, despite the problems plaguing its antenna.
Diehard fans began lining up outside telco stores on Thursday for the latest dish from Apple when the smartphone went on sale at midnight. Vodafone, Optus and Telstra opened stores across Australia at midnight to capitalise on the frenzy.
Masterchef contestants and judges helped launch the Telstra party, while American pop singer Kelly Rowland put on a show for Optus customers. For Optus, Melbourne was the most popular store with more than 1000 people lining up – the first person from 1am (AEST) on Thursday.
Across the country Optus says it experienced unprecedented demand for the iPhone 4 with thousands of people queuing.
“Limited stock is still available at selected stores but given the high demand we recommend customers contact their local store to check for availability,” a spokesman said.
Telstra says sales have far surpassed numbers from the launch of the original iPhone two years ago, and the first person to start their queue was at the Sydney store at 2am (AEST) on Thursday.
Vodafone/3 say customer demand has lived up to expectations.
“We are very happy with the customer response to the midnight launch of the iPhone 4, not only in those stores that were open in Sydney and Melbourne, but also online,” a spokeswoman said.
The popularity comes as no surprise to expert Toby Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum.
“Much of this success can be attributed to the halo effect Apple has achieved around its products through its extreme focus on usability, design and the tight integration between the devices, applications and services, if not always out-and-out innovation,” he said.
“This approach has also given the iPad a successful birth despite most observers previously doubting the viability of the tablet category.”
The iPhone 4 also has a five-megapixel camera with LED flash, HD 720p video recording, Apple’s A4 processor and up to 40 per cent longer talk time.
Apple has sold more than three million of the smartphones since it was launched a month ago in France, Britain, Germany, Japan and the United States. But since its release in June it has been problematic.
Users have complained they lose reception when holding the lower left corner of the phone, whose unusual antenna wraps completely around the device, in what has been referred to as the “death grip”.
Apple boss Steve Jobs has played down the problem saying no phone is perfect, but the company will provide free rubber bumpers that surround the sides of the phone and refund buyers who have already bought cases.
The rubber bumpers go some way to fixing the problem of the “death grip”.
The major telcos have released special plans in anticipation of the popularity. Existing Telstra customers can buy the iPhone 4 outright for $864 for the 16GB model and $1,008 for the 32GB model and plans range from $49 to $99.
Optus doesn’t offer customers the option to buy the phone outright, but its $59 extreme cap plan includes a 16GB phone and 2GB of data. Vodafone/3 sell the iPhone 4 outright for 16GB $849 and the 32GB at $999 and plans range from $29 to $99.
It is recommended for people who have not previously owned a smartphone to use pre-paid plans to avoid bill shock until users know how much data they will use.