Saturday, June 30, 2007

Part II: Apple vs. AT&T - The Activation

We all love cell phone activations, right?

It seems like in the past I've spent more time than I care to in the store when I purchase a phone.

With iPhone in hand, I went home to complete the activation. I had already downloaded iTunes 7.3 in the morning, so I was ready to go.

Unwrapping new Apple products is always a pleasure. They focus on the design, the packaging and how it feels. And I've always noticed that for 1st generations they put much more effort into it. (If you ever bought a first gen iPod, you'll know what I mean).

I plug the phone into the dock, connect to my computer and I'm off and running in iTunes. 5-6 pages later I arrive at the "Complete Your Activation" screen. I'm told it may take up to 3 minutes.

I wait, and wait. And then receive a messages that says "You will receive an email confirmation once your activation is complete." WTF?

Now I have to wait for email confirmation. This can't be Apple. So, I call the 800 number on the screen.

I still don't know if it was an Apple rep or AT&T rep, but the phone rings twice and is picked up - no waiting. Clearly those extra 2000 staffers made a difference. And amazingly the woman was very pleasant and easy to understand. I suspect that the rep was from AT&T, but it was a specially staffed iPhone 800 number. It was just too good for a regular carrier.

Apparently, AT&T is backlogged in new activation requests and it may take 24 hours to receive an email. Keep in mind, that NO iTunes syncing can occur until after your phone has been activated. So, basically I can't even use the phone.

Many compulsive email refreshes later, I receive the email, and my phone starts syncing. I had already setup preferences to sync contacts, calendar, personal email account, songs, photos, and a couple tv shows.

In summary, the activation experience (aside from the waiting) was awesome. I did it all in the course of 5 minutes from my computer.

Word on the internet, is that if you were porting a number from another carrier, the WAIT is much longer.

So, it appears that Apple's design experience and server available were top-notch. AT&T needs to figure out how to activate phones quicker.

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