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Tue 3 Jul 2007 12:00 AM

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Apple iPhone expected year-end in Middle East

Apple's much-coveted iPhone should arrive in the Middle East by the end of this year, the company's distributor in the region has told ITP.net.

Apple's much-coveted iPhone should arrive in the Middle East by the end of this year, the company's distributor in the region has told ITP.net.

A representative of Apple IMC Middle East & Egypt - Arab Business Machine (ABM) told ITP.net the firm had not yet been given a specific date for the launch of the iPhone in the region, but that it anticipated its arrival before the end of the year.

"We expect it by December," the representative, who declined to give his name, said.

The combination phone, iPod and wireless device launched four days ago in the US, selling in Apple's 164 stores and the 1,800 outlets of its carrier AT&T. It is slated to launch in Europe later this year and in Asia in 2008.

ABM has had numerous requests for the iPhone from people in the Middle East, the representative added. He said the firm had received a "minimum 20-30 calls a day" when the phone was first announced in January and a higher number than that more recently.

Although Apple has not yet revealed how many iPhones have been sold, the US launch of the phone has generally been considered a success with AT&T reporting that almost all of its initial stock sold out within hours of the launch.

As many as 200,000 units of the phone were sold the first day after it went on sale, an analyst from Global Equities Research estimated.

The figure tallies with the higher end of analysts' estimates for initial sales, which ranged from 50,000 to 200,000 units.

Many of the phones sold, however, quickly found their way onto popular online auction site eBay.

As of Sunday afternoon, eBay said more than 2,700 iPhones had been sold on the site at an average price of US$740.18, according to the Associated Press. The iPhone retails for US$499 for the 4GB model and US$599 for the 8GB version.

The success of the launch was marred, however, as some customers reported they were having problems activating the device.

AT&T said the difficulty was due to overloaded servers as multiple numbers of customers attempted to activate their phones at the same time. It said it was working with customers to resolve any problems.

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