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Summary:

Friday’s iPhone launch caused quite the buzz as thousands braved long lines and multi-hour waits only to walk away with unactivated phones, or no phone at all. Similarly, upgrades to the new software left many 1st Gen users without phone service as well. Sure there were […]

Friday’s iPhone launch caused quite the buzz as thousands braved long lines and multi-hour waits only to walk away with unactivated phones, or no phone at all. Similarly, upgrades to the new software left many 1st Gen users without phone service as well.

Sure there were jokes, but there was also much anger and many questions. How could Apple have botched this so badly? If this was any other company, would the reactions have been different?

By the end of the day, it seemed that things were settling down and reviews of new apps were replacing the angered tweets, at least in my Twitter stream. Ed: Saturday saw smoother activation, but still long lines. Took this blog editor 3 hours in line to snag one at a New Jersey Apple Store.

But let’s open it up to you. Did you get your new iPhone this weekend? Was it worth it?

Our own Om Malik shared his unboxing experience. Tell us about yours.

  1. The unlock-it, hack-it and sell-it-abroad crowd from the first gen pulled a major revenue stream out of Apple and AT&T’s hands last year. Who can blame the duo for wanting to get someone on the line for the contract when they leave the store with the phone? It’s HEAVILY subsidized device this year, so if they didn’t go through the pain of activation at the point of sale, millions of dollars would be lost.

    Add to that millions of first generation iPhone users couldn’t wait to upgrade, and installed the 2.0 software (which requires a hit back to the activation servers) to finish. I blame Apple for not foreseeing the load from the tons of people upgrading for free.

    I also blame Apple for attempting a 22 nation launch, rather than a staggered launch over the course of, let’s say, a month.

    THAT SAID… folks that lined up to buy the iPhone 3G on the FIRST WEEKEND OF RELEASE had to have known they would be thrust against a mass of humanity for long periods of time. Hell, they were WARNED IN ADVANCE that there would be a PROCESS this time to purchase the phone. AT&T released “what you need to be iReady” videos? So, why are these fluffy, discretionary-income-capable people complaining? If you want something first, you have to suffer to get it. Sure there were some problems, but shut up about it. You got the new iPhone first.

    I am just as happy sitting back a week or two before I take the plunge. I’ll walk in, and have my phones in about 10 minutes. No muss… no fuss.

    It’s entertaining to watch the show, though. Thanks to all of those who suffered for my amusement. You did it to yourselves. Curse me all you want, but nobody forced you to go stand in line and drink the kool-aid.

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  2. I live in the UK and managed to place my order online by 8:15am before O2′s servers crashed. Unfortunately they would only deliver to home, so with no one there to collect I arranged my order for Saturday. Big mistake. O2′s claimed first come first served was a lie, and by moving my order to Saturday it would appear that I put myself out of the running. People I know who didn’t place an order till far later on the Monday got there iPhones on Friday.

    I wouldn’t have minded not getting it due to lack of supply, but O2′s communications were terrible. One friend who didn’t get their online order on Friday was both texted and e-mailed that it wouldn’t be arriving. I stayed in all Saturday morning and got nothing. No notification and no iPhone.

    The most annoying thing is that everyone I know that went to a store got one. Had I not been offered the opportunity of ordering online, and had both my order and my money taken, I too would have gone to a store and probably got one.

    Now I have to wait, and wait for a failed weekday delivery before trying to get it either redirected to work (that always takes ages) or re-scheduled for next Saturday. At least that’s the best case scenario. Of course if I don’t get it before the 23rd then my current phone will quit and I’ll loose my PAC code to transfer my number.

    So no activation issues for me, just lots of my time wasted by O2.

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  3. Matthew Sibenik Sunday, July 13, 2008

    Last year I got my iPhone by waiting for two hours only to find that AT&T had run out and were taking orders only. I went home that night to find the Apple store had them in stock and I still had time to get oneof course I could not cancel the order. This year I stopped by and saw that the line was not horrible so stood in line. Kept getting the same answer to my question Got iPhone? Told repeatedly that there was enough in stock to handle the people waiting. Two hours later OIT comes the same guy from last year with we are out of stock but will order them and call you when they arrive. Don’t think he liked me telling the crowd that the Apple Store probably had them and only a half hour away. Only three people stayed to place orders and at 9 pm the store still had stock for the next day. I decided that the software upgrade was good enough and will wait for Apple to add VoIP on the iTouch and not worry about AT&T only where I can pick up a WiFi signal instead.

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  4. I arrived at the Cincinnati Apple Store at 8:00am and became the 190th person in line. I waited five hours to enter the store, but once inside, it took only about 20 minutes to transact the purchase of my 16gb white iPhone. I’ve had zero trouble with it since purchase and I love it. Sure there were problems, sure there are tons of complaints, but this product is worth it for me.

    An interesting side effect of the Apple culture is nice people to wait in line with. I met a Republic Bank’s regional manager and the lead graphic designer for University of Cincinnati. We talked the whole time, and Apple store people came out to hand out free water and coffee for those waiting patiently in line. I’m used to camping out a lot longer for Wii hardware, so this didn’t seem like that big a deal to me.

    It’s all a matter of perspective.

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  5. How did Apple botch this? Should they have opened 100 more stores and had AT&T doubled their server hardware for ONE WEEKEND so that everyone who couldn’t wait a few freaking days would be happy?

    This always happens on release day, for anything from the iPhone to World of Warcraft. Yet people always seem to have unreasonable expectations about it.

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  6. Jack, it really should have been a more staggered launch, perhaps with different parts of the world launching on different days, maybe even different parts of countries launching on different days. The problem was the simultaneous overload.

    That said, I had fun waiting for my iPhone. If any of the nice people I chatted with during those 3 hours are reading this: Hi! :-) We laughed, exchanged technology stories and generally it was the most social time I’ve had without my kids in I can’t remember how long. It didn’t feel as long as it was.

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  7. Very patchy experience here in the UK – have done a video of my experience here.

    Overall, not good!

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  8. I had a bit of a nightmare in the UK, and still don’t have an iPhone despite having paid for it. Basically, I ordered it from Carphone Warehouse for guarenteed delivery on Friday to my house. But instead of delivering it to my house it was sent to the local branch (courier had a signature for it and everything). It was caused by a bug on the Carphone Warehouse website according to their customer service rep. Anywho, I found all this out after spending on hour on the phone to various people, and headed down to the branch to pick up the phone (by now it was about 6:30PM). I was told it would be there as they weren’t allowed to sell it. Guess what? It wasn’t there. Even though their customer services said it was there, and the courier had a signature for it (I was actually talking to the guy who signed for it), the branch denied it was there. What obviously happened is that they sold it ( I was told by another salesman that they were sold out by 10:20 AM, and the store opened at 10AM).

    Basically, can’t fault O2 or Apple, but Carphone Warehouse were an absolute shambles and two days after the guarenteed delivery, I still don’t have it. I’m basically waiting for the nex shipment to come in, which could be weeks.

    The Lesson: Never deal with the Carphone Warehouse.

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  9. Got in line Friday at 7:30 AM. At 11:45 AM left the store with an 8 GIG instead of a 16 GIG. Took me another five hours to get the thing activated. Once it was activated, due to a fumble on the AT&T representative’s part, I had to go BACK to AT&T and get a replacement SIM card. Also had to correct the plan the representative had signed me up for.

    Despite the frustrating day I’ve been playing with this phone the majority of the weekend. The application market is still slightly lacking, but that’s to be expected for a new product. I’m starting to also question the battery life. Its certainly an upgrade over my first generation iPhone, but I’m not sure it was worth the wait in line and extra cash when I could’ve settled with the firmware upgrade.

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  10. To those who said the launch should’ve been staggered worldwide: it was. It was 11 July _in the timezone of that country_, so for instance in Australia we got the 3G the day before you Americans. Since they were sold out by midday of launch day, there’s no way the Aussie launch was impacting activations in America a full 24 hrs later. Same goes with the rest of the world, I imagine.

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  11. I bought mine on Friday itself. It was a unique experience in terms of standing in a queue for almost 5 hours. I always questioned what kind of insanity can draw someone to own a piece of equipment that can be yours seven days later sitting in the comfort of your sofa. However, I wanted to experience this first hand and chose to stand in the line outside the Apple Store in Bethesda, MD. Ironically the AT&T store next to the Apple store had employees twiddling their thumbs since they sold out their stock. Here it is a long queue outside the Apple Store waiting to get their phones. I guess a part of Apple startegy to create this long queues(directly translates into curiousity and word of mouth sales). Anyway the store staff was nice since they offered drinking water, coffee and occassionally choclates to the poor customers.
    The scene inside was even more chaotic. The so called experts were trying their best to keep a happy face but the process of activating not only caused consternation on the part of the employee and the customer but was a constant issue of confusion.
    As of the phone, bigger than the previous version. I agree with David Progue that 3G is not everywhere. Infact it is not even available 100% of time even is areas so called 3G covered in AT&T charts. The phone applications are a potential gold mine. I say potential since it is to be seen how many of them end up being useful and sustainable. But the biggest disappointment after 2 days of use is battery life. I don’t think so it lasted 10 hours with medium use of the services and ofcourse push email with Exchange Server.
    But ofcouse Apple iPhone user experience is still unbeatable and that is what makes me still a lover of iPhone.

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  12. I didn’t purchase the new iPhone but I did upgrade my iTouch to access the new Apps. They are fantastic! Even some of the free ones are pretty incredible. My favorites include “Where” which includes a feature to find the closest gas station and the price of gas there. There are a lot more apps available to iPhone users, and I look forward to someday buying an iPhone once I don’t have to get a phone plan through AT&T

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  13. [...] 14th, 2008 (6:30am) Mike Gunderloy No Comments Well, that didn’t take long. Despite the activation hassles, despite the cost, Apple had a phenomenally successful opening weekend for the iPhone 3G: by [...]

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  14. I guess I was lucky. Sort of. I walked away from a two hour wait after they sold out (after 20 units that took forever to set up!) at the AT&T store – though they told us we could get on a waiting list! Why didn’t they tell us when they saw 100 people in line and saw only 20 units? Ridiculous!

    I went to the Apple store in the afternoon after all the server crashes had taken place. I went home and had a few emails from people that knew I was getting a phone saying they had heard about the crashes and sent me links. Fortunately, when I went to the apple store the line was zooming, and they made it through a few hundred people in a few hours by the time I got into the store. My setup (new AT&T account and iPhone activation) took no more than 10 minutes. I could tell they were getting it down, and things seemed to be running smoothly with the servers and everything. I had the option of the phone I wanted, and already knew the plan I wanted, so maybe that helped it move quicker. I got the 16GB black, by the way!

    Jake
    NoteScribe: Premier Note Taking Software

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  15. I did 2 cartoons to illustrate the events here:

    http://primetoonz.blogspot.com/2008/07/horror-of-ipocalypse.html

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  16. [...] has been that way for up to four days. Coming on top of the iPhone 3G’s opening day “iPocalypse” activation troubles, this seems to indicate one of three things: Apple seriously [...]

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