(Adds 10,000 phones being sold by the afternoon)
By Nicola Leske and Georgina Prodhan
COLOGNE/FRANKFURT Nov 9 Hundreds of German
Apple (AAPL.O) fans braved rain and wind before dawn to be among
the first in Europe to get their hands on an iPhone but the
arrival of the year's hottest consumer gadget passed most
A few hundred people lined up at a Deutsche Telekom
(DTEGn.DE) shop in Cologne, where T-Mobile let customers buy the
music-playing and Web-browsing device at midnight before the
phone went on sale across the country later in the day.
Sales staff cheered and applauded when the first dozen
customers entered the store in the downtown shopping district of
Cologne across from a Vodafone store.
A T-Mobile spokeswoman said the company had sold 10,000
iPhones by the afternoon.
British telecoms group Vodafone (VOD.L) lost out to T-Mobile
and Telefonica's (TEF.MC) O2 and France Telecom FTE.PA to sell
the iPhone in Europe but will start selling a similar multimedia
handset from Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) on Friday.
T-Mobile representatives handed out blankets, umbrellas as
well as hot tea, coffee and pretzels for those waiting outside.
"All of us are Mac (Apple Macintosh computer) fans," said a
man who works in a MP3 store and was waiting with two of his
friends. "The iPhone is the best phone in the world," he said.
Deutsche Telekom Chief Executive Rene Obermann has pinned
high hopes on the iPhone, which he said will attract new
customers in Germany, where the firm faces tough competition.
Europe's biggest telecoms group by sales declined to give a
sales expectation and did not say how many phones it had in
stock. A T-Mobile spokesman merely said: "We have plenty."
The iPhone melds a phone, Web browser and media player and
costs 399 euros ($584). Customers must agree to a two-year
contract with T-Mobile for monthly fees between 49 and 89 euros.
Almost all the people lining up to buy the phone were men.
"It was love at first sight," one 50-year-old man said.
"It's ingeniously simple and simply ingenious," another man
added, who said he has been an Apple user since 1984.
Away from the hardcore fans, however, Germans in downtown
Frankfurt lived up to their reputation for thrift and resistance
Outside the T-Mobile store on Frankfurt's main shopping
street, people hurried to work without noticing the placards
outside the shop proclaiming the iPhone's arrival.
"Really? No, I had no idea," said one woman, declining to
stop to give her name, when asked whether she was aware the
iPhone went on sale on Friday.
One solitary would-be buyer loitered outside the shop an
hour and a half before opening time.
"I'm astonished there's no one else here," said 34-year-old
Uwe Berger, a computer programmer who fell in love with the
iPhone on a recent visit to the United States.
"I don't find the price too high. The iPhone can do more
than other phones and of course it's much better."
When iPhones went on sale on June 29 in the United States,
Apple fans endured heat and downpours to queue for days to buy
what has been dubbed the "Jesus Phone" by Internet bloggers who
see it as the ultimate mobile device.
Apple has since sold over a million iPhones.
The iPhone goes on sale in the UK at 1800 GMT on Friday. In
France it will be available at the end of the month.