iPhone 3G Activations Fail Nationwide

A nation-wide epic fail of the iPhone activation systems has gutted the release of the new iPhone 3G. Here’s an account from reader Tyler:

So, I just talked to the AT&T rep who sold me my phone. They didn’t active “in-store” as they were on iTunes 7.6 – and thought that was why they couldn’t activate. Just phoned in after updating to 7.7 here at the house – network connection timed out. I phoned my very friendly (and helpful!) rep and let him know “what’s up”. He advised this outage is nationwide and NO-ONE call activate iPhones right now. 1-2+ hours (not helpful!) was the projected time of “repair”. I have a very pretty and expensive paperweight taunting me from my desk.

Matt in Louisiana writes:

So I went to my local AT&T store this morning at 5AM, getting the 7th spot in line. By 7:00 there were at least a hundred people there, so I was excited that I’d be one of the first to get the new phone. Employees started to come and hand out paperwork, explaining how the process would work. “It is going to take 10 to 15 minutes to activate your iPhone, please have all of your documentation ready so we can get through everyone as soon as possible.”

Finally they opened the doors at 8:00 and let about 15 of us in! They started by porting my phone number from T-Mobile, which immediately deactivated my current handset. Next, they put a SIM card into my new iPhone, and plugged it into Itunes. This is where the fun begins.

After waiting for OVER an hour and a half, the guy just decides to give it up. Apparently they were sent an internal memo saying to send people home to activate their handsets. They send you home with no idea how to ‘activate’ the phone, as up until this point we had all been told that the only way to activate the phone was in the store.

I get home and update iTunes, and then plug in the new iPhone, and immediately get an error message…. Now I am stuck with a bricked iPhone and no other cell phone service due to them already having ported my number… but they have my money, so it really doesn’t matter much to them. What do I do? I feel as if I should be compensated for all of the difficulty, as well as for being made completely unable to make/receive calls. I am very disappointed at this entire situation, and the manner in which AT&T is handling it.

Gizmodo is also following the issue closely and has more reader horror stories.


Edit Your Comment

  1. HeartBurnKid says:

    Hey, if any of you were hoping to get an iPhone to unlock, now’s the time. :)

  2. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    Captin, haters straight ahead portside!

  3. nXt says:

    Well first your AT&T store people are stupid. Didn’t anybody read the memo that was posted online that they need to have the latest iTunes installed?
    Second, this is the biggest LOL I’ve had waking up at 8am and going online to read iPhone stories!

  4. nXt says:

    @HeartBurnKid: Except, you still need to sign a contract for it in store. It’s not activated meaning you can’t USE IT, but you’re still in a contract and the iPhone is tied to your account.

    Although, if this does happen to you, and you’re willing to eat the 2 year contract, you can sell this baby on eBay unactivated (locked) for a pretty penny me thinks.

  5. Indecent says:

    @nXt: Apparently you didn’t read the part where BOTH anecdotes showed they upgraded to the latest iTunes.

  6. castlecraver says:

    This definitely sucks — a coworker of mine is in the same boat and she’s right pissed too.

    I’m not getting an iPhone, but if I were, I think it would be a little smarter to just wait a few days so as not to run into these activation bottleneck issues. I dunno, I like having a new toy the minute it comes out as much as the next guy, but the chance of being in that kind of limbo for however long would ruin the deal for me.

  7. nudger says:

    that’s what we get for buying based the reputation of the founder and the ravings of his rabid followers. Their recent products are mediocre, and the services just plain suck. But hey, it’s Apple.

  8. cmdrsass says:

    early adoption is for suckers.

  9. DrGirlfriend says:

    I don’t think early adoption is for suckers…*someone* has to buy that gadget at first. But if you are going to be an early adopter, you have to know you might face problems and not freak out about it. It comes with the territory. Even if a product has been tested before release, those first few months are essentially an extended beta period for that product as it is finally used in real-life situations.

  10. BrianH says:

    One of my buddies is a firmware engineer at Apple. Granted he’s not in Tech Support or tied in with corporate, but I just spoke with him & he said he’s heard heads are rolling at HQ because of this. Jobs is furious, this is (obviously) embarassing & exactly what they didn’t want to face.

  11. I’m not going to jump on the iPhone Haters Bandwagon.

    I think the iPhone is a nifty piece of technology for those people who will actually use it’s features. But then those people are rarely an early adopter.

    Back in 2003 I spent %500 on a really nice PDA/Phone. I still have it, and use it for a PDA. I will never ever ever spend more than $100 on a piece of proprietary hardware like that ever again by choice. That phone (Which still sells for $300+) is half useless because I needed to switch carriers. It’s still a great PDA, And I appreciate those uses.

    But never again!

  12. That was supposed to be a $500

  13. eismcsquare2 says:

    “I have a very pretty and expensive paperweight taunting me from my desk.”

    He just went and bought one, and now he is not happy with it? Active or not, its still just a pretty and expensive paperweight!

  14. trogam says:

    So, bets on how long it takes to fix this?
    I give them about a day.

  15. jpdanzig says:

    Some people REALLY have too much money — and time…

  16. Chairman-Meow says:

    I just have this vision of Steve Jobs calmly walking about Apple HQ randomly shooting people who are in-charge of the activation servers.

  17. Zeniq says:

    @TakingItSeriously: behold the powers of SIM unlocking… Unless you have a CDMA carrier, you can switch carriers and keep your phone by either requesting the unlock code from the prior carrier, or pay to get the code.

    Just did it with a cingular phone, am using it with T-Mobile, cost me less than 10 bucks.

  18. Canino says:

    People are standing in line at 7am all over the country to buy an expensive new gadget to replace the expensive new gadget they bought a year ago. Haven’t they heard how horrible the economy is? Get with the program people!

  19. Matt says:

    *does the happy schadenfreude dance*
    Next time some Mac head tells me “it just works!” I can point at this.

  20. eismcsquare2 says:

    @Canino: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”

    Looks like the president was WRONG!

  21. Matt says:

    @eismcsquare2: We’re working hard to put food on your family.

  22. nogas2speed says:

    Early adaptor smug factor gets a reality check.

  23. nogas2speed says:

    I also heard it said regarding the 1st iPhone that, because of AT&T, “Great phone…too bad you can’t make a call with it.” So no improvements there with 2nd iPhone either. I’m holding out for the Blackberry Storm/Thunder on Verizon’s network this fall.

  24. theblackdog says:

    Excerpt from an IM conversation with one of my friends on Wednesday:

    Brian: But I don’t like that I can no longer just sit down at home and calmly activate my phone from there.

    theblackdog: well I do think that is messed up
    how much do you want to bet there will be major headaches with this system?

    Brian: There will be. I don’t know anyone that works at the at&t store, but I imagine they won’t be ready for it. Lines are already forming.

    theblackdog: I predict there will be a system crash because the authentication servers will be overwhelmed

    Brian: *heh

    theblackdog: sorry to the apple store workers, but it seems there is always a server crash whenever a new technology comes out that requires authentication of some sort

    I totally called this one!

    Okay, so perhaps it was like predicting the sun would rise tomorrow, but still.

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    @Matt: Betcha it’s fixed in a matter of hours or days, max.
    Versus Vista which still blows after how many days? 365? 730? 1,095?

  26. Matt says:

    @Trai_Dep: I disagree. I use Vista on a daily basis, and I’ve got it working just the way I like it. I like it more than the Mac I use at work. Mac and Linux, for me, are nice in an isolated environment. But once you ask them to try and talk to other computers or get to interact with the rest of the world, they have such problems. But I digress. A long chain of Mac vs PC comments would be more fitting on Engadget or some place. This small event will provide me with a wonderful example of how Apple still isn’t god like most of the people around me seem to believe.

  27. eismcsquare2 says:

    @Trai_Dep: Yes, they may fix the site within a day, but even after months, they have not fixed iphone. It still sucks. No copy-paste? tut, tut.