Looking for one of these locally? Better make it a Christmas present


Apple's iPhone.

Cell phone junkies might have better luck putting Apple's new iPhone on their Christmas wish lists than they will buying the summer's hottest product in York County.

The highly anticipated iPhone hits shelves at 6 tonight in select stores around the country. But one local dealer says it will be closer to Christmas before the product is available to its customers.

"This product is really sophisticated, and they want to make sure it's a clean launch," said Glenn McFadden, vice president of operations at Comporium Communications, the areas largest dealer of AT&T wireless products and services. "Agents such as ourselves are not going to be allowed to sell the phone initially."

Hailed as innovative technology

The product, which is sold exclusively through Apple stores and AT&T, is being hailed as innovative and revolutionary by its fans for combining the elements of a traditional cell phone with Apple's trendy iPod and Internet capabilities. iPhone users will be able to listen to music with iTunes, watch video, browse full Web pages, take pictures and answer calls on the 3.5-inch screen. The phone also operates with a touch screen instead of buttons. Of course, all that technology comes with a price: at least $500 to purchase and a minimum $59.95 monthly contract.

Buzz about the product has reached a frenzy with iPhone hopefuls reportedly camping out near malls waiting for the newest piece of technology to hit stores.

McFadden said Comporium stores hope to stock iPhones by the end of the year. He said Comporium's network is equipped for the phone, but efforts to drive demand will delay its availability locally.

"This is a really big roll out. They're building quite a hype over it," McFadden said.

In the meantime, local technology geeks wanting the device immediately will have to trek into Charlotte. According to AT&T Wireless, formerly Cingular Wireless, the phones are available exclusively at AT&T Wireless stores, Apple Computer stores and Apple.com. The closest locations to York County are an AT&T store in Pineville, N.C., and an Apple store at SouthPark Mall in Charlotte.

Large local interest

McFadden said Comporium officials are investigating the possibility of customers purchasing the phones in Charlotte and using them with their Comporium service contract.

"Our customers are definitely interested," he said. "And we're excited about the possibility of offering it."