New iPhone 3G S launches in Australia

Apple’s new iPhone 3G S model launched in Australia this morning, with hundreds of people lining up at official Apple and other retail stores to pick up the new device.

While Telstra, VHA’s Vodafone, Optus and Virgin Mobile have all released their pricing plans for the gadget, VHA’s 3 is the only brand not to offer the device on launch day. Its official site says it will release the 3G S next month.

An Optus spokesperson said there have been “hundreds of customers around the country” at each of its stores, which hosted entertainment and complimentary food giveaways throughout the night.

“The majority of them are new customers, which is great. The launch has been very successful, in fact our first customer lined up at about 5pm yesterday afternoon in Sydney.”

A Telstra spokesperson also said there has been a good reception to the launch, particularly at its Melbourne inner-city store. The telco giant reportedly opened some of its TLife stores at midnight, while some of its pricing details have been released just today.

Vodafone could not be contacted for confirmation on how many customers attended store openings this morning.

Virgin Mobile also released pricing details for its iPhone plans today.

While the launch has been less populated by fans than last year’s iPhone 3G launch, there have reportedly been sizable crowds forming at Apple’s retail stores where the company says it is selling the device outright from $879.

The less populated crowds are likely due to the relatively minor upgrades in the hardware itself. The 3G S model offers an in-built compass and voice control features, but several analysts have suggested it is the recent iPhone 3.0 operating system update that is the major upgrade of the month.

Plans are available from all four carriers offering the device, with caps starting from as low as $19 plus handset costs with Optus, ranging to as high as $114 on VHA’s Vodafone’s unlimited calls plan.

But the cheapest prices are expected to come next month when VHA’s 3 announces its pricing structure. The company, recently merged with Vodafone, has established itself as a low-cost alternative to the other carriers.

Meanwhile, iPod Touch users have given a lukewarm reaction to the iPhone 3.0 OS update, with just 1% of users downloading the upgrade compared to 44% of iPhone users, according to AdMob.

The company says the survey data is based on apps tied into the mobile advertising network, but gives an overall impression of how iPod Touch and iPhone users are downloading the new software.

AdMob suggests the new upgrade, which offers cut-copy-paste and MMS messaging, may have been slower to reach iPod Touch users due to the $US10 cost.

“The additional $10 fee is clearly limiting uptake,” AdMob said in a blog post. “Developers looking to sell applications utilizing the 3.0 feature can’t be happy with Apple’s decision to charge for the upgrade as it limits their available market size for downloads.”

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