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Apple is known for its innovation, particularly with the IPod. The music player blew past MP3 players before it, and in April, Apple announced the sale of its 100 millionth IPod. Apple’s ITunes digital-music store has become the third-largest music retailer in the U.S., with 10 percent of the market, according to the NPD Group, a research company in Port Washington, N.Y.

The IPhone, which does not have a keyboard, unlike many of its competitors, uses a touch-screen design that will let users type on a virtual keyboard and visually scroll through voicemail messages, an innovative feature.

Calling plans for the device, based on a two-year service agreement, start at $59.99 for 450 minutes.

“All of these things on one device, and you’re slipping it into your shirt pocket,” said Joe Farren, director of public affairs for CTIA, a nonprofit organization for the wireless-communications industry. “That is powerful.”

What really separates the IPhone from other smart phones is its design and “cool” status, Mr. Chamberlain said.

“The big question that I keep asking is: Why is it a phone?” he said. “That’s the answer I don’t have yet.”

After the initial buzz fades, there will be plenty of phones, said AT&T spokesman Michael Coe.

And complaints.

While it will take about a month to see the problems, Mr. Chamberlain said, IPhone’sbattery life, about eight hours for calls, will likely be one of them. Web access on the IPhone, which uses AT&T’s mobile data network, is also slower than a 3-G network.

Customers will also have to get used to a virtual keyboard, instead of the keypads found on current smart phones. The IPhone’s incompatibility with corporate e-mail systems will present problems for business customers, Mr. Chamberlain said.

But those problems won’t keep consumers from buying the phone. He points out that his son is on his third IPod in three years.

“People who are using these things are extremely forgiving,” Mr. Chamberlain said. “People give Apple a break that they wouldn’t give to any other consumer-products company.”