It now looks as though the iPhone did not really live up to the hype in Europe. T-Mobile already sold 10,000 iPhones in Germany on the first day, but overall the iPhone UK launch was rather lackluster. It also remains to be seen how many more iPhones will be sold in Germany now that the Apple believers already got theirs.
I think the reasons for the low interest include the high monthly fees, carrier lock, no 3G, touchscreen phone alternatives, and that the initial iPhone hype from last Summer just faded.
The initial iPhone hype was so strong that it also gripped Europe, despite the iPhone only being sold in the United States.
Surely global product launches like Nintendo did with the Wii last year are the future. It is difficult, but if you get the supply right the success will be dramatic. We are living in a global world and everybody knows when an interesting product is coming on the market somewhere. If we have to wait for it half a year, we are not as interested in it anymore.
The iPhone launch in France will be potentially interesting to watch, as Orange has to offer an unlocked version of the iPhone as well.
See also The Register for UK iPhone sales impressions. See this Spiegel (German) article for some critical iPhone Germany launch observations.
Update: According to Ars Technica O2 sold 8,000 iPhones in the UK on the first day. Considering how tech crazy the UK consumers are, this number is very weak if it holds true. Even Germany sold more iPhones.