Hold the phone

Apple’s new iPhone went on sale Friday morning across North America and in other countries, greeted by much smaller crowds and less hoopla than previous models.

The new Apple iPhone 3GS: no pre-orders being taken by Rogers in Canada.

Apple’s new iPhone went on sale Friday morning across North America and in other countries, greeted by much smaller crowds and less hoopla than previous models.

In Canada, the lines were either minimal or non-existent at some Rogers stores. Rogers Wireless is the exclusive Canadian carrier of the iPhone along with its Fido discount service.

“Nobody’s getting too excited,” said one Rogers Plus staff member at the Yonge and Dundas location in Toronto.

He said the store didn’t have any noticeable line-up in the morning, and that most models of the new 3G S phone were still in stock.

In the U.S., AT&T said it had taken pre-orders for “hundreds of thousands” of the phones. Apple sold one million units of the older model, the 3G, in the first three days last year.

A few hundred people were in line just before the 7 a.m. ET opening of Apple Inc.’s flagship store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, a fraction of the people who lined up around the block for last year’s launch.

That launch turned into a debacle as Apple’s servers failed to cope with the load of new customers trying to activate their phones. People who already had iPhones were trying to install a software update on the same day, adding to the pressure.

This year, Apple and AT&T Inc., the phone’s U.S. carrier, defused the drama by taking pre-orders for the new phone online. That means fewer prospective buyers had a reason to stand in line, and it sped up the activation process.

In Canada, Rogers wasn’t taking pre-orders on the model, but the company was hearing that anticipation was building, said spokeswoman Elizabeth Hamilton.

“I heard from the Ottawa store that there was at least a dozen calls from folks who said they were going to line up and be there for opening,” she said.

Apple also released its software update for previous customers two days early. There were only scattered reports of problems with that upgrade.

For new customers signing a three-year contract with Rogers, the 3G S costs $199 or $299 depending on the memory capacity. Compared to the 3G, it has a faster processor and an upgraded camera.

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