Apple marketing chief oversees successful UK iPhone launch (photos)

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Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller, was among the Apple bigwigs who made the trip across the pond for yesterday evening's iPhone launch in the UK.

Schiller was on hand at company's flagship shop on Regent St. in London, as were several television media crews and what appeared to be approximately 300 Apple retail staffers, according to Felix Kunze, who was among the first to purchase one of the touch-screen handsets after they went on sale at 6:02 p.m. Friday evening.

Customers waiting in line ahead of time were treated to freebees from Starbucks (coffee and mince pies), The Cloud WiFi (24 hour free trial), T3, ZDNet , Griffin (rain coats), and O2 (bottled water).

Apple opened the floodgates at approximately 5:55 p.m. and began ushering customers out of the cold and into the toasty retail shop, announcing (video) along the way that it was waiving the no cash restriction — but maintaining a 2 per person limit — for Friday only.

The line (video) is reported to have moved swiftly and within minutes customers were walking away with their new iPhones, which come packaged in a retail box that slightly larger than the U.S. version in order to accommodate the larger power adaptor.

For his part, Schiller spent time in between interviews with CNN and other media networks mingling with shoppers and absorbing feedback on their early impressions. The Apple VP appeared particularly interested in Kunze's experience in activating the iPhone — which he did in the store — as well as his overall impressions of wireless carrier O2.

Customers and staffers flood Apple's flagship shop on Regent St.
UK iPhone Launch
Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller was on hand to address the media.
UK iPhone Launch
Approximately 300 staffers were on call to help customers.

Kunze said he managed to activate three iPhones within a half hour, all from a MacBook Pro notebook he had been toting. Presumably, Apple had gone through great lengths to assure that activation issues, which marred early iPhone experiences for some U.S. customers back in June, were not repeated in the UK.

"The buzz in the store was tangible and Apple did another great job at public relations on this launch. I am happy to have been there," Kunze said.