::Despite Problems, iPhone Draws Lookers
By Elliott West, Raleigh Chronicle News Editor
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
DURHAM - With a giant three foot tall mock-up of the new Apple iPhone playing a video in the front window, the Streets At Southpoint mall Apple store in Durham has no shortage of shoppers stopping by to take a look at Apple's newest hot-selling gadget.
Inside the store -- where newspaper reporters have been specifically told that we could not take photographs -- shoppers on Monday afternoon had to wait in line just to look at the new iPhones on display. Sales have been brisk due to the phone's unique design.
The phone features full video playback capability, web-surfing abilities like those seen on a regular PC, music playback, and of course, a phone. The big draw is Apple's design, which includes all those features in a small package that is accessed via a unique touch-screen display that dispenses with the need for buttons.
Patrons in the Apple Store on Monday seemed to be especially enamored with the video playback feature of the phones. Many of them also seemed surprised at just how compact the phones were as well. The phones are only 2.4 inches wide and 4.5 inches tall.
However there are some drawbacks to the device -- not the least of which is its price.
The 4 GB version retails for $499 at the store while the 8 GB version goes for $599.
Also, at least one person at the Durham Apple Store seemed surprised to learn that even if they purchased the iPhone at the Apple Store, they would still need to go to a Triangle AT&T store to sign up for the monthly phone service in a separate transaction.
The Apple retail worker was overheard saying that Apple doesn't activate up the AT&T phone service inside the retail stores.
Plans for the phone from AT&T certainly don't offer any phone minute bargains, although they do offer unlimited Internet access. The lowest priced plan is $60 for 450 minutes of phone airtime a month (and unlimited data). Other plans offered include a $100 a month plan which includes 1350 minutes a month.
The phone can also access the Internet through any available Wi-Fi 802.11 b or 802.11g signal.
Some reviews have said that the phone's overall design and feel are beyond anything else out there. However, some of those same reviewers point out that the phone cannot do some simple things very well.
For example, while the phone has a built-in camera, it can't send photo multimedia messages to other phones like some other less-expensive mobile phones can. It also cannot record video and doesn't have a flash, although those may be coming in the next generation of the iPhone.
In addition, another reviewer pointed out that there is no way to send text messages to several people at one time -- it has to be done one person at a time.
In terms of phone service, AT&T said on Monday that it has had some problems with getting some customers up and running with phone service for iPhone customers.
In some media reports AT&T said some customers -- especially those who are transferring phone numbers from other carriers -- have experienced delays.
However, that seems to be a good problem to have. With over 500,000 of the phones sold just over the weekend, AT&T says that they have had more orders for the new iPhones in a couple of days than most other types of phones usually have in a month. ::