Home > iPhone G3 > Will AT&T Screw Up the iPhone 3G Launch?

Will AT&T Screw Up the iPhone 3G Launch?

iPhone Line
(Photo Credit:FiddybobiddyFiddy/Flickr)

The first iPhone launch was almost too easy.  Create the best handheld combo-technology device ever made and then sell, sell, sell.  Correction:  create lots of hype before launch day, and sell, sell, sell after watching a line form at most stores.

The iPhone 3G launch may not be as easy.  The problem comes down to three words:  “in store activation.” It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to almost an hour to setup an account and activate a phone at an AT&T store and this year no one will own an iPhone 3G without a contract through AT&T.

The math is a little scary.  Let’s say that a store has 40 people in line when the doors open on Friday at 8:00 a.m. and it takes an average of 20 minutes at a time to get someone through the purchasing/activation process.  The AT&T store I was in today had 6 employees working the desks, so with that kind of staffing, they’ll get through that 40-person line in a couple of hours.

However, we haven’t considered the unknown factors, like the network going down under an unusually heavy load.  So the line keeps growing while they get their systems back online.

Compare this to last year, when the buyer walked into the store, grabbed an iPhone and an accessory, and then swiped his credit/debit card.  If they took their time it was a five minute transaction.

Apple and AT&T are hoping at avoid a lot of potential bad press by having a smooth launch day.  However, for those going in early to wait in line, I highly recommend taking along a few extra doses of patience… just in case.

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