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Price not a worry for world's first iPhone 3G owner

Jonny Gladwell became the first iPhone 3G owner in the world, purchasing the handset in Auckland despite local grumblings over Vodafone's pricing.

The world's first purchaser of Apple's new 3G iPhone is a student from Auckland's North Shore in New Zealand.

Jonny Gladwell headed a 300-strong queue at Vodafone's city centre store, where thanks to the time difference, the multinational telco sold its first 3G iPhone in the world.

Jonny queued 55 hours, braving two nights of frost, where temperatures dipped to freezing, a rarity for Auckland. On Thursday night, the weather was mild but drizzly.

The student says he was put up to the stunt by friends who offered to buy him a phone if he stuck it out for three nights. They kept him company, even bringing an exercise bike and a masseuse.

"I have been standing on the street, playing with my laptop and using the phone to order things. I got 45 minutes of sleep on the first night and six hours on the second night. It was very cold. They said it got down to zero degrees," he said.

Jonny says he took a break from his studies and will have lots of catching up to do.

"The ones not in the dare think it's stupid. The ones that are think it's amazing. My family think it's ridiculous and say I should be studying."

Shortly after midnight, Vodafone opened its doors and Jonny became the first customer for the coveted iPhone. Once the paperwork was dealt with, Jonny was left coping with a media frenzy.

Despite much criticism of the pricing plans, which could see some users pay NZ$3,000 over two years for the iPhone, none of the protests threatened by angry bloggers materialised.

Vodafone NZ CEO Russell Stanners says probably 200-300 queued up outside, with around 160 "genuine purchasers".

He deflected criticism of pricing, blaming Apple developers for talking of a US$199 price launch, which lowered consumer pricing expectations. But Vodafone NZ was still able to offer an NZ$199 phone on a 24-month plan. The NZ$999 or NZ$1,299 iPhone still compares well with the NZ$1,200 Nokia N95, he says.

"We have launched them locally at a 30 per cent discount on what's available for similar devices. We are delivering value to our customers. We will sell out here until we get more stock tomorrow. There may be a few customers who go without. I guess it's like waiting for All Blacks tickets. There's only so many available," Russell added.

For all the information you need about the iPhone in Australia check out our iPhone launch centre, and stand by for our full review of Apple's hotly anticipated smartphone.