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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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RE: Wait a minute
By kelmon on 7/14/2008 9:04:12 AM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah, no kidding. As the old adage goes, "there's no such thing as bad publicity", so even the mess that was Friday will probably have helped Apple. Restricting supply is a tricky business, if you want to do that, because if you restrict it too much then potential customers will get fed up and buy something else. A product that sells out quickly is good for business in numerous ways but Apple will need to be careful to ensure that stock continues to flow (unlike during the 2-month hiatus before the 3G iPhone was released).


RE: Wait a minute
By robinthakur on 7/16/2008 8:55:06 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, I wasn't sure whether Apple's strategy in the 2 months prior to the 3G launch of starving the market of handsets was a sensible one. Maybe they just didn't want people saying "I bought this old iPhone last week and now its outdated already" etc or maybe another reason.

Restricting supply works in the console industry (see Nintendo) but all the Wii has to compete with is a console with reliability issues and a catalogue of limited depth and the clunking failure that is the PS3.

In the cellphone market competition is far more fierce. Vodafone in the UK found it difficult to give up trying to tell me about handset's that were "Just as good as the iPhone" until I told them that if they can't offer me an iPhone I'm simply cancelling the contract. So I did.


"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA














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