I did it. Last Saturday I took the bait and plonked down the cash for an 8 GB iPhone.
I’ve been using an HP iPAQ hw 6515 for the past two years. It runs Windows Mobile 2003 and can technically do a lot of the same things that an iPhone does. In practice, the iPAQ is clumsy, even when using as a phone. Add to this the fact that most of the new software won’t work on Windows Mobile 2003, and the hw 6515 can’t be upgraded to the newer versions of Windows Mobile.
So in order to support the research and writing on messaging, collaboration and social network technology on BigBlueBall, it was time for an upgrade. After some hemming and hawing, I became the proud new owner of the very sexy iPhone.
Saturday afternoon I walked into the local AT&T Wireless store and asked if they had the iPhone in stock (they did). I have an existing account with AT&T, and wanted to switch to a new cell number (local, since my old number still tagged me as a 909-er) and upgrade to the iPhone. The process was smooth and painless, and I was on my way home in about ten minutes.
This is where my story takes an ugly turn.
I unboxed my new iPhone and hooked everything up. I’m running Windows XP Pro, but iTunes recognized my iPhone and gave me a friendly “Let’s get started” message. I was asked to enter my Apple ID. Trouble is, I use my AOL ID for all my iTunes purchases, and I couldn’t find a way to enter it. I tried using my @aol.com email but no dice. Oh well, I had other things to attend to, so I’d have to activate later in the afternoon. I’d sort through those details when I returned… or so I thought.
When I came back later that afternoon, my activation session had expired. No surprise, really. I just undocked and reseated my iPhone to restart the process. WRONG! Instead, I was greeted with a message informing me that “iPhone activations are unavailable at this time.” There was an ambiguous message stating that they would be available after 3pm EST (it was much later already) but no date was given.
I tried several more times, shutting down iTunes and even rebooting my PC to make sure it wasn’t a local problem, but always got the same message. I tried calling 6-1-1 (customer service) from my old cell phone, but after navigating their voice mail maze, was summarily dismissed with a request to call back Monday through Friday during the hours of blah-blah-blah. I couldn’t hear the specifics over my cursing.
I finally went to bed, hoping that Sunday would bring better results. I was wrong again.
Sunday morning, same screen, same frustration. I put it aside and went for a bike ride with Lynn. I drove to Murrieta to review an offer I received on the house. I kept busy until well past 3pm EST, hoping that surely the activation process would be working by now.
I hooked up the iPhone and got the encouraging “Let’s get started…” message. So far, so good. I enter in the basic info about my current phone number, and after 30 seconds or so verifying, ran into another roadblock. The message was worded almost the same, but without the pretty picture of the iPhone to taunt me. This one simply said “iPhone activations are not available at this time.” No ETA whatsoever.
My frustration level was increasing in direct proportion to my compulsion to “try again.” I turned to the web, hoping to find solace in the company of other new iPhone owners. The AT&T Wireless customer support forums confirmed that many others were also having the same problem. We were all asking what to do with our $400 paperweights.
Fortunately, I did find a different customer service number for AT&T that took me directly to a representative — no voicemail maze to navigate! The rep informed me that yes, their activations servers were in fact down, and that no, they did not know when they would be back up. His advice? Wait a while, and try again later. The situation was now officially fucked up.
How can Apple accept this shoddy level of service? When a customer shells out $400 for an iPhone, they expect they’ll be able to use it that same day. I hope that they have a clause in their agreement with AT&T that gives them an “out” and allows them to offer the iPhone with other carriers sooner, if (when?) AT&T falls down on important issues such as activation. I’m keenly aware that things go wrong from time-to-time, but this reflects poorly on both companies.
On the bright side, on Monday morning the activation servers were finally up. My iPhone is activated and I’m all is well in the world again.
I still need some questions that maybe some other iPhone users can help answer.
- First, what do you consider the essential iPhone accessories? A protective wrap? Apple’s bluetooth headset?
- Second, what do you consider to be the most essential iPhone web resources?
- Thirdly, what advice do you have for syncing my iPhone from two different computers?
- And finally, does anyone know if it’s possible to merge iTunes accounts? I ended up activating the iPhone using an older, previously unused Apple ID that I had setup. Most of my purchased music used my AOL ID. Any advice?
I’m looking forward to reviewing the best of the IM options for the iPhone.