jueves, 10 de febrero de 2011

Dead Zone For iPhones No More

  
North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming can finally satisfy their Apple cravings.

Well, not all the states. The people of North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming — as if they needed a reminder that they live off the beaten path — had to watch the rest of the nation fawn over their must-have gadgets.

Those states are not served by AT&T, which was the exclusive carrier, making the sparsely populated region essentially one big iPhone dead zone.

But on Thursday, Verizon Wireless starts selling the iPhone in the region. And despite some lingering resentment about being left behind, stores have stocked up on hand warmers and hot drinks for the crowds expected to line up for their chance to buy into the hype.

“I remember vividly the first time I saw one at an airport,” said Greg LaFollette, 64, an accountant and technology consultant from Sioux Falls, S.D., who plans to buy the phone. “My heart was bleeding because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get one.”

In an era of instant access to seemingly everything — thanks in no small part to the proliferation of smart phones — it has been hard for many to believe that entire states could be walled off for years from such a mainstream product.

“Why do I live in South Dakota?” was the hopeless response in an online forum from a would-be customer after being advised of the geographical restrictions of the AT&T iPhone.

AT&T, which is expanding its network to include the upper Midwest after buying a smaller carrier, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Brenda Raney, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless, dished some mild corporate trash talk. “We value our customers regardless of where they live,” she said. “We think North Dakota is just as important as New York.”

Tony Clark, chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, said he expected sales of the iPhone to be significant, but not as high as they would have been a few years back.

“While it’s a pretty big deal, the emergence of Android phones has miti
gated some of that demand because they do a lot of the same things,” he said.
Remarkably, for a place with no iPhones, there are already a large number of Dakotas-related iPhone apps, including maps of major cities, local weather, public records and local noxious weeds of the region.
The Bismarck Tribune is one of several local newspapers with an app. “Downloads have been pretty slow up until now,” Terry Alveshere, the paper’s online manager, said in an e-mail.
That is because few people went as far as Joel Broveleit, 37, of Sioux Falls, who drove to Nebraska and lied about his address to get an iPhone. “So I’ve had one probably longer than anyone in South Dakota,” he said.
He also discovered the downside of being the first on the block with the new toy: everyone wanted to play with it (he eventually disguised it in a special case to avoid attention).
But now, at least, the griping can end.
David Miller, 20, who is studying computer network security at Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., said he had heard the occasional person threatening to move to a place where iPhones were not such foreign objects. But, he added, “I don’t think anyone I knew followed through.”