July 12, 2008

iPhone Users Make Upgrade: Owners of Original Snap Up Latest Device As It Hits Area Stores

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

Jul. 12--LYNDHURST -- Just one year after Apple's iPhone debuted, technophiles lined up Friday to take a bite of its successor.

The iPhone, the all-in-one device that does everything except slice, dice and puree, became a technological sensation last year and was snapped up by more than 3 million people. The second generation of the phone, which includes wireless Internet capability and faster downloads on AT&T's 3G high-speed network, could be a bigger hit.

The phone sells for $199 in the 8-gigabyte version, or $299 for the 16GB model.

Mount Union student Mike Rahanian, 19, showed up at 4 a.m. to stand in line at the Apple Store in Lyndhurst to buy one of the new devices.

Rahanian purchased the new phone even though he has the older model. He said he thinks 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 These days once you buy something, as soon as you get it home, it's already out of date."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 Apple and AT&T thrive on.

The line that snaked along the side of the Apple Store and through the plaza was made up mostly of the young, tech-savvy generation that drives the technology industry.

Rave reviews

For the most part, purchases and activations went smoothly for those leaving the store with the small boutique-style bags featuring the Apple logo. An employee guided each customer through the purchase and activation process.

When Rahanian left with his 16GB white iPhone, he said he was satisfied with the purchase.

"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 clerk was trying to flip the phone 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.

Stores run out

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: limited supply.

Dave Sutton of Brook Park started out at the Apple Store and went to an AT&T store, only to be told it was out of iPhones. He returned to Apple, but had to go to the back of the line.

Dave Livengood of Canton said that's why he made the almost hourlong drive from his home to Lyndhurst. He called his local AT&T store and was told that it was getting only 40 to 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 50-something, waited in a crowd filled with teens and 20-somethings. That, however, didn't mean he was any less enthused. He said he had expected to replace his first-generation phone eventually.

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

George M. Thomas can be reached [email protected]


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