iPhone 4 Frenzy To Set Sales Record

Another June, another iPhone launch. But this launch global, frenzied, potentially record-setting as it may be seems to be going rather smoothly. No blood on the sidewalk, no grumpy jostling. Just a festival atmosphere and general envy that the Japanese got their mitts on the gadget before anyone else did.

Apple expects great things from the iPhone 4 launch. Even with the white version of the iPhone 4 delayed until the second half of July and early reports of some glitches, predictions from analysts like BCG Partners are for 1 million devices sold on its first day alone. Entirely possible: The first iPhone took 74 days to sell 1 million units, while the 3GS took just three days. Vodafone plc has already sold out of its stock in the U.K.

Stateside, only those that pre-ordered their phones can pick them up today at AT&T Inc. stores and at other retail partners (walk-in sales are delayed until June 29). At Apple Stores though, it was business as usual.

Nonetheless, the comfort of pre-ordering was not enough to stop folks from queuing up starting in the wee hours.

The iPhone 4 went on sale on Thursday morning, in the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K. and Japan.  By the end of September, the handset will be available in 88 countries. Thanks to the wonder of time zones, Japanese customers were the first to get the Apple device. People in line elsewhere in the world consoled themselves by using their iPhones to watch, well, people in line elsewhere.

And the lines indeed seem to be the focus of most news reports after days, week, nay months of reportage on the technicals of the iPhone 4. Lines in the Ginza district in Tokyo, lines at the Apple Store on Fifth Ave. in New York … TechCrunch went about interviewing the first guy in line. Any broadcaster worth their salt has a live remote story from the front lines of “iPhonedemonium.” The story Thursday was certainly a human-interest one.

But its worth remembering why folks are in line. As in: the slimmer, stainless steel design; a glass back for better reception; a better camera (5 megapixels!); more battery life (7 hours of talk time and 220 hours of standby time); and a front-facing additional camera for HD videoconferencing-over-Wi-Fi via the new FaceTime app. Steve Jobs called this latest version the biggest leap since the original iPhone.”

Perhaps most notably, it ships with the iOS 4.0 upgrade with multitasking, the 32MB iMovie app availability, folders for organizing the desktop, unified mailboxes for multiple e-mail accounts and a slew of other upgrades.

The iOS 4 will also usher in Apples new mobile-ad service, iAds, which launches July 1.

In the U.S., the smartphone runs $199 for a 16GB model and at $299 for a 32GB model, with two-year data plans. AT&T is allowing upgrades for anyone whose current iPhone contracts run out in 2010.

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