Europe has been suffering iPhone fever since 2007 when the continent broke out in a sweat over the prospect of having an Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) in its handbag (well, that's how some of us saw it…).
And of course there's now much excitement over the expected arrival of the iPhone 5, with hype levels on the Old Continent back to the max over the new version of the device. It's almost enough to make one forget that Europe's close to bankruptcy! (See Apple Picking: Before the iPhone Launch.)
The iPhone, along with reality TV and paparazzi shots of minor celebrities, has long been able to distract Europeans from the important things in life. From the summer of 2007 onwards, speculation was rife about which European carriers would get to sell the much-desired handset -- see Don't Mention the iPhone -- until the device finally arrived this side of the Atlantic to the inevitable queues and the even more inevitable hysteria.
So as blood cells pop at the prospect of a new version of the pocket rocket, let's look at some of the iPhone's European high and low points from the past few years.
The smartphone's arrival in the U.K., courtesy of an exclusive partnership with Telefónica Europe plc (O2) , was announced in September 2007, two months before it would hit the shops. The device was to hit Europe with a hefty price tag, but without 3G connectivity. Steve Jobs turned up in Apple's Regent Street flagship store (some Apple staff there almost averted their eyes, such was the awe) to announce the deal and gave us an insightful perspective on how Apple managed its European carrier relationships: "There are a few upset girlfriends out there," he noted. Everyone still wanted to date Apple, though. (See iPhone Invades UK, iPhone UK Launch: Jobs Has 'Upset Girlfriends', Slideshow: iPhone Hits London and Will Euros Buy the iPhone?.)
Finland's current problem child, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), which is getting spanked in the smartphone market, decided it wanted a piece of the iPhone action, so sued Apple in December 2010, claiming that Apple's mobile device products sold in Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. infringed its patents. Amazingly, an agreement between the two was reached by mid-2011. (See Nokia Sues Apple in Europe and Euronews: Nokia, Apple Kiss & Make Up.)
By 2011, the iPhone was available in some (sort-of) European markets that even many globetrotters haven't heard of. Fancy a white iPhone 4? You can get one in Armenia.