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Chinese whispers over iPhone release

Apple's handset is top story worldwide

Americans aren't the only ones going crazy over news about Apple's iPhone. The impending launch of the phone tops technology news headlines in China today, hours before the handset was due to hit store shelves in the US.

China's three largest internet portals, Sina.com, Sohu.com and Netease.com, all set up sites dedicated to the US iPhone launch, offerings links to news reports, photos, reader comments, and other information. The high profile of the iPhone launch in news headlines halfway around the world from the US is testament to Apple's skilful building of the hype around the smartphone.

"iPhone goes on sale tomorrow, who should buy it?," reads the top headline on Sina.com's iPhone site. "20 serious shortcomings: the US media comments on the iPhone," the next one said.

Netease's iPhone site offered a countdown clock that ticked off the seconds to the iPhone launch alongside headlines that read, "All Apple employees will receive an 8GB iPhone!" and "Only two per person! Live update from the iPhone sales scene."

Sohu's site was less sensational, asking, "Is the fanatic response real or fake: 75 percent of Americans have no plans to buy an iPhone."

While the iPhone is made in China, the handset isn't set for sale there and doesn't get a mention on Apple's Chinese website, which advertises the iPod music player and iTunes software. Apple's iTunes store is not available in China.

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