July 11, 2008

New iPhone a Hit With Local Customers: Many Upgrading to New Apple Phone After Owning Original

By George M. Thomas, The Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio

Jul. 11--LYNDHURST -- Just one year after its predecessor debuted, technophiles lined up today to take a bite of Apple's newest iPhone.

The iPhone, the all-in-one device that does everything except slice, dice and puree, became a technological sensation last year being snapped up by more than three million people. The second generation of the phone, which includes wireless Internet capabilities and faster download times on AT&T's 3G high speed network, shows signs of being a bigger hit. The phone sells for $199 in the eight gigabyte version, or $299 for the 16 gig model.

It's people such as Mount Union student Mike Rahanian, 19, who showed up at 4 a.m. to stand in line at the Apple Store to buy one of the new toys.

Rahanian purchased the new phone despite the fact that he has the older model. It would be understandable if he were disappointed that a new phone came out so soon, but he's not. He does think, however, the first iPhone served as a test run for this device. He's buying the new one for the speed.

"They threw it out on the market. It was a very good phone when it came out," he said. "They did some updates. Now they have a major update. It's most certainly worth it, I think. These days once you buy something, as soon as you get it home, it's already out of date."

Rahanian wasn't alone in his sentiments.

Mike Neal, 18, of Seven Hills bought his first iPhone just after Apple announced a price cut last fall.

Neal said he couldn't figure out why he was willing to shell out even more money after purchasing one last September. "I was hoping they would come out with a new one," he said.

Neal is the type of customer that Apple and AT&T thrive on. Looking at the line that snaked along the side of the Apple Store and around through a plaza, the crowd represents the tech savvy, give-it-to-me now youth that drives the technology industry. They want the latest, greatest and fastest and have no qualms about paying for it.

Apple, which is a company that's always prided itself on having a certain cool factor, is only too happy to oblige.

For the most part, purchases and activations went smoothly for those leaving the store with the little boutique style bags with an Apple on them. A store staff member guided each customer through the purchase and activation process.

When Rahanian left with his 16 gig, white iPhone, he pronounced himself satisfied. "I'm impressed. It's really streamlined," he said. "It's very nice. The first one felt like a brick in your hand compared to this one."

Neal's experience didn't go as easily during the activation phase. He said that the servers went down when the store clerk was trying to flip it on. Still he said that he'd make the purchase again.

"I love it! It feels better than the old phone," he said. "From what I've seen it's quite faster than the old one."

Indeed, in the phone's web browser, he typed in the URL for yahoo.com and a full fledged web page popped up blazingly fast.

Things went fairly well at the Apple Store, but some who thought they would avoid long lines by going to the AT&T Store nearby reported a major problem there -- limited supply.

Dave Sutton of Brook Park started out at the Apple Store and went to an AT&T Store only to be told they were out. He returned to Apple only to have to go to the back of the line.

Dave Livengood of Canton said that's why he made the almost hour-long drive from his home to come to Lyndhurst. He called his local AT&T store only to be told that they were getting 40-70 of the devices. Livengood, who converted from a Blackberry last year after playing with his friend's iPhone, said he didn't want to take a chance on missing out.

Livengood, who gave his age as fiftysomething, looked out of place in a crowd filled with teens and twentysomethings. That, however, didn't mean he was any less enthused. Although he is replacing his first generation phone he said he expected that he would have to eventually.

"We'll do it again next year if they come out with a new one," he said.

George M. Thomas can be reached at [email protected]


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