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Fans brave rain for European iPhone launch

Hundreds of Apple fans braved rain and wind in Cologne early Friday morning to be among the first in Europe to get their hands on the coveted iPhone.
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People line up early in front of a shop in Cologne selling the Apple iPhone, November 9, 2007.Henning Kaiser / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

Hundreds of Apple fans braved rain and wind in the German city of Cologne early Friday morning to be among the first in Europe to get their hands on the coveted iPhone.

A few hundred people lined up at a Deutsche Telekom shop, where its mobile communications unit T-Mobile allowed customers to buy the music-playing and Web-browsing device at midnight before the phone goes on sale across the country later in the day.

Sales staff cheered and applauded when the first dozen customers entered the store, which is located in the downtown shopping district of Cologne across from a Vodafone store.

British telecoms group Vodafone lost out to T-Mobile and Telefonica's O2 and France Telecom  to sell the iPhone but will start selling a similar multimedia handset from Samsung Electronics.

T-Mobile representatives handed out blankets, umbrellas as well as hot tea, coffee and pretzels for those still waiting outside.

"All of us are Mac fans," said a man who works in a MP3 store and was still waiting with two of his friends. "The iPhone is the best phone in the world," he said.

Deutsche Telekom's Chief Executive Rene Obermann pins 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 divulge 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 are obliged to agree to a two-year contract with T-Mobile for monthly fees between 49 and 89 euros.

Almost all of the people lining up to buy the phone were men.

"It was love at first sight," a fifty-year-old man said.

"It's ingeniously simple and simply ingenious," another man added, who said he has been an Apple user since 1984.

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.