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iPhones abroad: No lines, brisk sales in South Africa

September 26, 2008: 4:34 PM ET

There were no queues of eager iPhone customers outside Cape Town's Vodacom stores when doors opened at 8 a.m. Friday morning, but sales were reported to be brisk -- despite steep prices and an administrative snafu.

"I don't know how many people have come through our doors," a salesperson told a correspondent for ITWeb. "But it has been really busy." (link)

The iPhones are being sold unlocked because local law forbids carriers from binding cell phones to any particular network. Prices started at 6,389 Rand ($788) for an 8 GB model and 7,569 Rand ($934) for 16 GB. There was some confusion at first about the upgrade process for existing customers, but it was soon straightened out.

South Africa is the first of the third wave of countries to get the new phone this year -- a wave that is crashing somewhat haphazardly compared with the first two.

Apple (AAPL) launched the iPhone 3G nearly simultaneously in 22 countries on July 11 and in another 22 countries on August 22. But the 29 countries that were on Apple's official "Coming Soon" list on Monday seem be getting their phones in piecemeal fashion and with little fanfare. (see here)

The iPhone went on sale in Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Turkey and Brazil on Friday. It's coming to Russia a week later, on Oct. 3.

There is no known schedule for the phone's arrival in the remaining 24 countries. For more information, go to Apple's site here and click on the button corresponding to the country you are interested in.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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