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AT&T Wireless said it prepared for the June 29 iPhone launch with a heavy focus on demonstrating and explaining the device to customers.
The carrier invested 100,000 hours of training for store employees who will be involved with selling and servicing the product. The carrier will delay online sales through its own Web site for an undetermined time period because "we want consumers to have direct contact" with salespeople who can explain the product, a spokesman said. Online sales through Apple's site, however, were expected to go ahead as planned at launch.
AT&T confirmed that it hired 2,000 temporary employees to assist in the launch and planned to offer security where necessary. The spokesman, however, declined to call the launch an unprecedented event for the carrier. "We're used to handling crowds ... We were the first company to introduce the RAZR … We know how to do this. The iPhone [launch] is different in degree but not in kind."
The company would not reveal the number of iPhones that were to be allocated per store but said that factors such as the "concentration of population" near a store would be taken into consideration.
In the days before the launch, AT&T said it has not yet advertised the iPhone but would launch a campaign in the future. It offered no specifics.
The prelaunch hype for the iPhone is reminiscent of last fall's Sony PlayStation3 launch in which some of the players were placed immediately on eBay and sold at four times their value or higher.
Of the iPhone launch, eBay said, "Our eBay community is very entrepreneurial, and we expect to see listings for the iPhone on the site immediately after its launch on June 29, 2007."
The site issued a ban on iPhone eBay listings prior to the official launch and states the following requirements for post-launch sales: "The listing must include a unique photograph of the iPhone; Your User ID must be clearly displayed within the photograph (watermarks will not be accepted); To ensure buyer protection, PayPal must be the only accepted form of payment."
Apple recently stated the iPhone will be able to play YouTube videos via Wi-Fi. The iPhone will provide up to eight hours of talk time, six hours of Internet use and seven hours of video playback.