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Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T's wireless unit, shows off the iPhone 3G to eager customers waiting outside the Atlanta AT&T store. Unfortunately a glitch left these customers and others unable to activate their phone.  (Source: Shawn Ramsey)
Apple's new dream gadget sees a less than stellar debut

The 3G iPhone launch seemed fated for success.  After months of anticipation, the day was upon loyal Apple fans.  As they camped in their Apple tents outside stores, visions of Steve Jobs delivering them rectangular shaped presents danced through their heads.  When they awoke crowds had formed, and their dreams were about to become reality.  Everything seemed perfect -- with naught a riot or robber in sight.

As the orderly lines began to shuffle into the Apple stores and get their new phones; that’s was when the problems began.  For all its savvy design work, and for all the months of engineering, Apple and its partner AT&T were wholly taken aback by a plethora of glitches that crippled the new phones.

Frederick Smalls, an insurance broker in Whitman, Massachusetts was among the loyal fans, turned angry critics.  After trying to get his new 3G iPhone to work for two hours with no success, he remarked, "It's such grief and aggravation."

As customers bought the new phone, which comes equipped with a higher-speed data connection and a GPS chip, they discovered alarmingly that they could not activate their phones.  The culprit according to an AT&T spokesman was a glitch in Apple's iTunes servers that made it so the phones could not be fully activated in store.

Managers told customers patiently to take the phones home and complete the activation process.  However, customers found to their dismay that at home Apple's servers were equally unresponsive.

The problem, which some are dubbing "the great iMess", even left owners of the older model of iPhones without service.  The old iPhones received a firmware update, which required reactivation.  They were similarly unable to reach the servers.

With the phones crippled for hours, only emergency calls could be made.  Freelance photographer Giovanni Cipriano, who updated his first-gen iPhone, was not happy.  He stated, "It's a mess."

The original iPhone launched with at-home activation only.  With the new iPhone, subsidization by carriers caused AT&T to want to activate in store. 

The problems closely followed glitches with Apple's MobileMe service, which launched Thursday.  The MobileMe service, which synchronizes a user's personal data across devices -- including the iPhone -- would not allow many users to log on.

From there it was all downhill for Apple.  Alex Cavallo was among those waiting in New York.  He remains an Apple fan, but admits that it was an unpleasant experience as he had to use another phone.  After being used to the iPhone, he describes his use of the standard phone as "uncomfortable".

With its attractive line of products, including the iPhone, iPod, and MacBook Air, it certainly has an attractive brand image.  As Nick Epperson, a 24-year-old graduate student, who camped out for the iPhone 3G stated, "Chicks dig the iPhone".



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By kelmon on 7/14/2008 3:11:15 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, I think someone spectacularly messed up on Friday. Apple surely must know how many iPhones it already has out there, how many 3G iPhones it has ready to be sold, and how much load on their servers there would be if all of them try to activate around the same time. Some distribution of the attempted load times must be expected, particularly given the midnight launch events around the world, but this measurement would have provided a peak load estimation that they should have ensured they could cope with.

To be honest, the US activation problems are pretty trivial compared to the issues in the UK where people were unable to even buy a phone, let alone activate it, because of compatibility problems attempting to register with O2 via their Internet Explorer-only website. In the end the police had to be called in to help close the Regent Street Apple Store. How embarrassing is that?

Really bad planning.

I'm glad I'm waiting a bit before buying mine so they can knock the bugs out of the buying process.


"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay














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