iPhone: not so easy or painless

July 11, 2008

Apple wireless point of sale systemWhen Apple’s 3G iPhone went on sale in the U.S. on Friday, the company had in place what it thought was an easy and painless process that would just work in getting customers up and running quickly. Apple said employees could complete the entire sign-up wirelessly, and in test runs figured it would take about 15 minutes per customer.

Turned out that wasn’t exactly the case. By 11 a.m. California time it was clear things weren’t going as planned. Reports on the Web abounded that existing iPhone users and buyers of new ones couldn’t activate the phone once they downloaded the new software.

Some workers in Apple’s flagship Manhattan store told customers the problem was with wireless partner AT&T. But AT&T blamed iTunes. Apple has so far gone radio silent, though by late afternoon it looked like things were improving.

Some fans didn’t seem to mind that the shiny new iPhone they just bought would work as little else than an elegant paperweight until it could be activated.

Danny Fukuba, 17, a recent graduate of Palo Alto High School, was first in line at his local Apple store. He bought the first iPhone last year, and has been camping out since Wednesday night for the second.

New Yorkers line up for iPhone“I couldn’t sleep at all for the past couple of nights. I am going to crash as soon as I get my phone,” he said. So why do it? “It’s fun. It’s exciting. This is the first time I’ve actually done anything like this.”

Second kid in line was Eric Vicente, 16, Danny’s friend who will get his old iPhone. “Being first is really cool,” he said. “Because I can’t afford one, I’m getting the hand me down.”

(Top photo: Apple wireless point-of-sale device. Reuters/Eric Auchard
Second photo: People wait in line outside an Apple store in New York. Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

5 comments

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Mine works fine. Guess I’m immune to the “plague”.

Posted by Kevin Boggs | Report as abusive

Mobile service providers, and their handset manufacturers, have rarely experienced the kind of demand that the iPhone has created.

This phenomenon, ironically, is the result of both early-adopter and mainstream wireless users craving a full-featured mobile device that has “simplicity, by design” at its core.

That said, activation delays aside, Apple’s latest device is still exactly what the marketplace has been waiting for. Kudos to both AT&T and Apple.

David H. Deans
GeoActive Group USA

Apple’s taking a lot of heat for their server woes. Well, folks, if you wouldn’t be so impatient, it would all be a lot easier!

I’d never want to be the first on the block to own some piece of high tech gear… Let the eager beavers try it out and find the bugs first… I’ll take mine once it’s known to be stable. (That doesn’t mean I don’t want one, though!)

At the end of July, Apple and AT&T should have most things running smoothly. About the middle of September, everything ought to be smooth as glass.

As usual, the hyper-enthusiasm sells more of the things. But it seems to generate lots of headlines when hyper-disappointment over minor inconveniences sets in. Give these folks a break! They’re creating a revolutionary technical paradigm shift as we watch. It isn’t easy.

Posted by Bill Burkholder | Report as abusive

What’s the percentage of the “First Block Buyers” that rally need it? 10%? 15%? sure no more.
Please save your money (and your brain)

Posted by marcello | Report as abusive

How ironic that Bill stole Steve’s idea and now Microsoft has done everything it can to keep people from stealing it’s ideas.

While on the other hand after being raped by Bill Steve has put in place as many safety nets as possible to avoid it happing again.

In this case not being prepared for their own stupided and greed left the Appel team with their pants down ( or in this case their servers).

I don’t live in America any more and all the cell phones here come unlocked. The greed of companies to “Get Customers” is insane, we actually have a small device that allows us to have 2 sim cards on 1 phone (there are also some that with computer assistance can hold up to 12 or 24 different sim cards) and guess what we have to my minutes from 2 different companies because not all are friends use the same company.

I say sell the phone for a profit and let people decide who they want their service with. And no Iphone is not sold here as a “package” because no phone company here is dumb enough to agree to Steve’s demands but, I can still by one unlocked.

Posted by Greg | Report as abusive