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Reports: UK consumers slow to adopt Apple's iPhone

While Apple hasn't released official numbers on early sales of its iPhone in the UK, new reports suggest the company may face difficulty replicating the level of success it experienced with the US launch of the handset back in June.

According to a recent report by the Register citing reliable channel sources, exclusive UK iPhone carrier O2 has activated just 26,500 iPhones since its launch two weeks ago, well below expectations of about 100,000 units.

"Carphone Warehouse, the main retail outlet for Apple's hot item [in the UK], had taken stock of 50,000 iPhones, but had only managed to shift around 11,000 in the first weekend," the report states. "O2 has over 400 stores and Apple just 12 in the UK. Phone industry sources estimated that 25,000 units might have shifted in that first weekend - but that now seems optimistic."

The Register observes that the number of activations may not actually represent the number of iPhones sold, as some may have been set away as gifts and have not yet been activated. Still, the publication said, "the gross is unlikely to be significantly higher."

One factor potentially limiting the adoption of iPhone in the UK may be the handset's steep price of 269 pounds. Market research firm GfK Group recently polled 500 people across the country and found that, outside of "Apple cult" fans, uptake in the wider public is likely to be limited due to the unusually high cost of the device.

Of those surveyed, a large 72 percent said that they would not buy one due to the price. This includes 26 percent who said they like the look of the iPhone but found it too expensive, in addition to another 46 percent who said they were "never going to buy it at that price."

Only 2 percent of respondents to the survey said they were even considering adding the Apple handset to their Christmas list, indicating that the package on offer has not hit the spot for UK consumers.

"Apple’s history proves that it has the magic touch when it comes to product development and marketing, however the iPhone has yet to capture the imagination of the UK public," said Richard Jameson, a representative for GfK NOP. "We must take into account that the UK mobile market’s success has been down to subsidised handsets, therefore the iPhone’s price really stands out and consumers are not used to paying in excess of 200 pounds for a phone."

Jameson added that "Apple needs more than cutting–edge design to penetrate this market and will have to work much harder in the UK than it did in the US to make iPhone a mass-market proposition."

Still, iPhone topped GfK NOP's rankings in brand awareness for specific features, with 78 percent of survey respondents associating the iPhone with music and 65 percent mentioning it in accordance with email and web surfing.