The new Apple iPhone is a very desirable bit of kit, no doubt about it. Even at the $499 (4GB) or $599 (8GB) asking price.
I spoke to a contact in Apple about the iPhone which they are launching with AT&T this coming Friday and, from what he said, the launch sounds like it has all the makings of a disaster in the works!
First off the phone is sold brick-locked – in other words the iPhone is dead when you get it. You have to bring it home, hook it up to an Internet connected computer , and activate it online.
Remember, there are 1m of these puppies pre-sold. What happens when 1m people all try to log in to the site to activate their phones around the same time. How well will the activation server infrastructure hold up?
Presumably, if you have a PC, this process also involves the installation of iTunes and Safari (Macs come with these installed).
Then there is the issue of the iPhone being sim-locked. And I don’t just mean that the phone is locked, nope, the sim is locked physically into the phone! It can’t be removed.
Seemingly there is a way to map your existing number to the sim in your iPhone – this will be part of the activation process. But you can’t take your sim out of the phone for any reason. What happens when you want to upgrade to a new phone? No idea. Presumably this will be straightforward if your new phone is another iPhone – but if it is not…
Joy, oh joy, I can see lots of potential for support issues right there.
Keep in mind also that the phone is not being sold to business customers – the AT&T shops are only going to sell the phones to consumers.
Consumers with a good credit record. If you have any history of bad debts, you can forget about getting an iPhone! They won’t sell you one.
Why is the credit record important? Well, if you buy an iPhone, you are signing up to a two year AT&T contract with a minimum spend of $60 per month! $60 per month for two years is $1440. So, after the initial purchase, you are committing to give Apple and AT&T at least another $1440.
So, if you are a technically minded consumer, have access to an Internet connected computer, can logon to the activation site, have a good credit history and a steady income for the next two years, it should be no problem.
I’d hate to be working for AT&T or Apple’s support next weekend!
UPDATE: – I see AppleInsider are reporting that the first shipments of the iPhone have arrived in the US under unprecedented security.
Further Update: Apple have confirmed that activation of the phones is done by the consumer “in the comfort and privacy of their own home or office, without having to wait in a store while their phone is activated” as I mentioned in the post above and that the price plans start at $60 per month, again, as I said above.