SAN FRANCISCO - Some buyers of the new Apple iPhone, after waiting in line for hours and even days to purchase the much-hyped product, were still waiting to activate the phone Sunday.
"I am Mr. i-Disappointed," said Scott Monahan, an iPhone purchaser, in a telephone interview Sunday - via his landline.
After getting in line at 7:30 a.m. Friday at the Apple store in Aspen Grove, Colo., Monahan eagerly headed home, phone in hand, not long after the product went on sale at 6 p.m. But when he tried to activate the phone that evening, he was told he'd have to wait.
On Saturday, he spent "at least four hours" with AT&T's customer service department and made a trip back to the Apple store for help, but he's still waiting for the phone to work, said Monahan, who is president of TransVision Corp., a Centennial, Colo.-based Web site development company that focuses on video production.
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The iPhone works exclusively with AT&T, and customers must activate their phone online via Apple's iTunes.
"I've soured quite a bit on Apple," Monahan said, and he noted that he's been a loyal Apple customer for years. To his mind, Apple should have provided more customer support to assist AT&T in the launch, Monahan said.
While some online discussion boards heated up this weekend with frustrated messages from people who couldn't use their phones, it's unclear how many people faced similar problems.
"The vast majority of our iPhone customers are completing the activation process in a matter of minutes, which is what we had planned," said Michael Coe, a spokesman for AT&T Inc.
"A very small percentage of the thousands of customers who bought the phone this weekend are experiencing issues with activation. All of our efforts are focused on clearing up these problems as quickly as possible," Coe said, and he added that "this is the first time an activation process like this has been used in the industry."
Coe did not offer specific figures as to how many customers are facing delays or how many iPhones have sold thus far.
A majority of AT&T stores had sold out of the product at this point, Coe said.
While no specific group of phone purchasers was affected by the activation delay, Coe noted that customers who want to switch over from cell-phone service currently billed to a corporate account might experience delays until the corporate-account managers could be contacted.
For his part, Monahan said he was attempting to transfer a landline telephone number to the new iPhone, perhaps prompting a delay in his case. But, he said, AT&T and Apple did not make clear that the phone's other devices, including an iPod and Web access, don't work without phone service. "If it's not an active telephone, it's a dead piece of hardware," Monahan said.
Like Monahan, some customers are still waiting. On Apple.com's public-forum message boards, one discussion is titled "Your Activation Requires Additional Time to Complete," a reference to one of the messages that iPhone buyers are seeing. That discussion logged more than 38,000 views as of Sunday afternoon (though some could be repeat visitors). A new discussion thread titled "38+ Hours Waiting" emerged Sunday.
"I'm going to keep my iPhone because I believe it's ultimately going to be wonderful," Monahan said. But his experience thus far is "like being stood up on a date," he said. "I was excited about this day. It's turned into nothing but hell."