Japan to Get 3G iPhone From 7 a.m. on Friday

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Japanese consumers will be among the first in the world to get their hands on the new 3G version of the iPhone when it goes on sale on Friday.

Softbank, the carrier that will launch the phone in Japan, will open its store in the heart of the fashionable Harajuku district at 7 a.m. (10 p.m. GMT Thursday) to customers wishing to buy the phone. Other Softbank stores and major retailers will offer the phone from noon, the carrier said in a statement.

The new phone is being awaited perhaps more eagerly in Japan than other countries because its launch on Friday marks the first time that Japanese users have been able to buy an iPhone. The previous version worked on GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) -based mobile networks but the standard was never used in Japan so first-generation iPhones don't work here.

On Friday the iPhone will go on sale in more than 70 countries. New Zealand is likely to see the first launch followed by Australia and then Japan.

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