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Glitch wormed out of Apple’s iPhone

Locals brave heat, lines for new multimedia mobile phone

Posted: July 12, 2008 12:59 a.m.
Updated: September 12, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Jeremy Whitcomb, a 19-year old College of the Canyons student, waits patiently at the front of the line at the AT&T Wireless store in Santa Clarita on Friday, just minutes before the highly anticipated Apple iPhone 3G went on sale at 8 a.m.

The wait was over for iPhone fans in the Santa Clarita Valley and across the nation as the new version of Apple Inc.’s popular cell phone went on sale at AT&T stores on Friday.

At the three local AT&T stores, customers lined up for hours to receive their new gadget.

Craig Hancock waited in line for a little over an hour to purchase his first iPhone for $199.

While the Saugus resident said he’s owned other types of cell phones, he considers the iPhone to be best in terms of e-mail capabilities, graphic presentations and general music and video abilities.

Hancock said the Valencia Boulevard AT&T store sold out of its iPhone stock around 11 a.m., while the other two locations in Valencia had iPhones gone by 10 a.m.

While AT&T store managers declined to comment, AT&T spokesman Geoff Mordock said the “vast majority” of the roughly 2,000 AT&T stores across the country sold out of the iPhone.

“I do know that some shipments are coming in,” he said regarding when the next round of iPhones will be available.

As for how Friday went, Mordock responded, “It’s been an incredible day. A lot of excitement here.”
Even though many customers were able to buy iPhones, some had problems getting their phones to work.

“It’s such grief and aggravation,” said Frederick Smalls, an insurance broker in Whitman, Mass., after spending two hours on the phone with Apple and AT&T Inc., trying to get his new iPhone to work.

In stores, people waited at counters to get the phones activated, as lines formed behind them.

Many of the customers had already camped out for several hours in line to become among the first with the new phone, which updates the one launched a year ago by speeding up Internet access and adding a navigation chip.

A spokesman for AT&T, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the U.S., said there was a global problem with Apple’s iTunes servers that prevented the phones from being fully activated in-store, as had been planned.

Instead, employees were telling buyers to go home and perform the last step by connecting their phones to their own computers, spokesman Michael Coe said. However, the iTunes servers were equally hard to reach from home, leaving the phones unusable except for emergency calls.

The problem extended to owners of the previous iPhone model. A software update released for that phone on Friday morning required the phone to be reactivated through iTunes.

When the first iPhone went on sale a year ago, customers performed the whole activation procedure at home, freeing store employees to focus on sales.

But the new model is subsidized by carriers, and Apple and AT&T therefore planned to activate all phones in-store to get customers on a contract.

The new phone went on sale in 21 countries on Friday, creating a global burden on the iTunes servers.


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