Europe to Apple: Gimme Five!

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?.)

  • With the Brits sorted, it was soon the turn of the Germans and French to get some iPhone love. (See iPhone Goes to Germany and iPhone, Oh La La.)

  • The iPhone finally arrived in European shops on Nov. 9, 2007. Queues formed. Continental opposable thumbs were put to frantic use. And soon after, the legal wrangling and data traffic volume surges began, but sales disappointed. (See Euro iPhone Fever, Euro iPhone Update, iPhone Data Booms at T-Mobile and iPhone's Slow Euro Sales.)

  • Mid-2008 saw greater availability of the iPhone around Europe (and the rest of the world) plus the addition of 3G connectivity to the company's smartphone. (See So, Why Queue for the 3G iPhone?, Mapping the iPhone, iPhone Goes Global July 11, Orange Expands Its iPhone Empire and Mamma Mia! Italians Get 3G iPhone .)

  • 2008 also revealed a bug in the iPhone's geotagging data that meant, for example, devices in Chicago were showing on a world map as being on the border of Kazakhstan and China. What larks! By that time many people knew about Eurasian nation because of the 2006 movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. I like you!!

  • But 2009 saw Android loom large and Europeans had another mobile operating platform to fawn over, though by 2010 they had the iPad to play with to keep adrenalin levels high. (See The Android Shopping List and Orange UK Reveals iPad Data Plans.)

  • 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.

    — Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

  • digits 12/5/2012 | 4:51:59 PM
    re: Europe to Apple: Gimme Five!

    OK, Gimme 4S isn't quite the same as Gimme 5, is it? 

    I wonder if there is such a thing as a disappointment barometer...

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