iPhone Hang-Ups

Call it the Apple iPod a la mode.

The iPhone combines three products - the iPod, a mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet browser. The small handheld device has a high-tech touch screen.

"It's a revolutionary device," said Don Mayer, the CEO at Small Dog Electronics.

Small Dog Electronics is big on Macs. The South Burlington store sells anything Apple, except the iPhone. Not because the demand isn't there. It's simply because the device isn't and won't be.

"Longtime customers say I want one. Can you get me one? That has not stopped and we continue to get email and requests. Unfortunately, we have to say we're not going to be able to sell that product to them," said Mayer.

That's because Apple has an exclusive distribution deal with ATT's Cingular Wireless. Since Cingular doesn't serve Vermont, upstate New York or New Hampshire, the iPhone won't be sold here. And Cingular warns against buying the iPhone elsewhere with intentions of using it in our region through roaming wireless networks. Cingular has to pay their roaming partners for each call.

"If a person buys a phone in an area where we have coverage, knowing in advance that they'll spend little time in that area and use it in an area we don't have coverage, in that case we'd have the right to terminate your contract," said Mark Siegel, a Spokesman for AT&T's Cingular Wireless. "You could certainly could buy the phone, but eventually your calling patterns will catch up with you," he said.

Cingular wouldn't say when or if they'll expand service in our region. And there's some question about whether certain features on the i-phone will work when it's roaming. The iPhone comes with a hefty price tag, between $500 and $600 and should be available in June.

Don't worry if you've got to have this technology, Apple dealers say other iPhone-like devices are being developed and eventually those will be offered here.

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