RealTime IT News

iPhone Users Connect - For The Most Part

The wildly hyped iPhone launch came off with plenty of hiccups but for the most part seems to have delivered the goods. Apple and its phone partner AT&T were scrambling to deal with reports of problems some users had activating the device.

Apple acknowledged current AT&T/Cingular customers looking to switch their accounts to a new iPhone are likely to experience something less than immediate gratification. A support link at Apple's Web site states:

"Important: Your iPhone may be able to receive calls in as little as 15 minutes after activation. If you are migrating your current phone number, it can take longer—up to several days, depending on the type and status of your former service account—before calls are routed to iPhone. In the meantime, you can make calls and use iPhone's other features."

An AT&T spokesman minimized the problems in a statement e-mailed to internetnews.com.

"From the moment we began selling the iPhone last Friday, the overwhelming majority of customers activated their phones on the iTunes site in just a few minutes," said AT&T spokesman Brad Mays. "This is especially impressive because it involves a revolutionary new device that is being activated in a way that has never been used in the wireless industry."

Mays acknowledged, "a very small percentage of customers did experience difficulties in activating their iPhones. However, we have resolved nearly all of these situations and the issue now is essentially behind us." He added: "We couldn't be more pleased with consumer response to the device."

However small the percentage, there was plenty of user frustration vented on Web.

One example is a San Francisco-based investment and digital media enthusiast who has been chronicling problems with the iPhone at his blog under the pen name "Thomas Hawk."

Hawk's Saturday posting is headed, "AT&T iPhone Activation Hell" and includes a blow by blow of problems activating the phone and with AT&T service reps. Numerou responses by other new iPhone customers include sympathetic comments, praise for the iPhone and suggestions on how to get the service activated.

A small sample of new iPhone users in the New York area surveyed by internetnews.com seemed satisfied, if not thrilled with the new phone.

"It took me 5 minutes to set up, and I’ve loved it ever since!," said Sharod James, of Goshen, NY. "My favorite part is the Safari Web browser. It is just like the Internet. I haven't put it down since I got it. I couldn't be happier. I love the phone."

Louie Jimena, an art history student from Peirmont, NY, said he waited in line since 11:30 p.m. Thursday to be the first one to buy one at his local store.

"I've been waiting eagerly since January for this," said Jimena. "It still surprises me with all the fun things to do. I love the voicemail, that I can use to choose the order of reviewing messages at my own pace. With one click I can check the weather. Since I got my iPhone, it's been it constant use, either me or other people."

Some users suffered through problems early, but came away happy with the eventual good result.

"I tried to activate service Friday, 7 p.m. and did not get activated until Sunday at 5am. I couldn't do anything with the phone until then," said Senad Astafa, an IT specialist from Tomkins Cove, N.Y.

"I had an iBrick sitting there on the desk," joked Astafa who said he spoke with between 20 to 30 AT&T reps to try and get the iPhone working. "I don't think they knew what they were doing. At one point, they said my account was set up for Miami, area code 845! It was just ridiculous. I can't believe how bad AT&T's service was."

Sounds like one unhappy camper. But then, voila, Astafa finally got the iPhone working and all was forgiven.

"Now that the phone is set up, it is simply amazing," he said. "I went to a barbeque in Belleville, and the phone went around the table three times, as it was passed from person to person. They couldn't believe how you can pinch a picture to zoom up. Now I understand why it cost so much! It's just a dream device. It is one device that does everything."

But few, if any, consumer device meets every person's expectations. If you get the iPhone as a gift or just don't open it right away, you should be aware of AT&T's return policy, as noted at its Web site, and make sure it meets with your approval:

"You can return your iPhone within 14 days for a full refund, but there is a 10% restocking fee if the box has been opened."

That won't be an issue for Gilbert Dos Santos.

"When I heard about the new, revolutionary iPhone, I just had to come to the US to buy one," said Dos Santos. "I wanted to be the first man in Brazil to have one, to show all my friends."

iphone crowds
Even activation problems to come didn't douse the enthusiasm.
Credit: David Derex