Apple Stores were jammed this morning. Two stores in LA which we have been monitoring since 5am were packed with over 400 customers each (with more arriving every minute). Lines were moving slowly, though Apple employees seemed to be working as quickly as possible to help them. The one AT&T store that we checked had only 20 people waiting. If you wanted an iPhone today, hopefully you got up early, or are prepared to call around to find out who still has them in stock later. We’d suggest trying some of the potentially less crowded AT&T stores.
But waiting a day or two might be an even better idea. Users upgrading or activating phones this morning were met with long delays and multiple errors in iTunes when attempting to update/activate their phones. As a result, lines at the stores moved slowly and users upgrading their 1.0 iPhones ended up with locked and nonworking devices for hours until they were able to make a successful connection. Frustrated users flooded internet message boards with their displeasure.
Of course, for Apple and AT&T, this means success. Customers clearly have an pent up demand for a device such as the iPhone 2.0. However, it seems unlikely that Apple and AT&T couldn’t have anticipated this sort of response and been more prepared for it. They could have released the 2.0 software a day or two before the launch of the new phone to release demand on the servers. They should have stress tested the servers for this level of demand? Error messages could have been constructed which let customers know why their phone updates were failing and what to do about them.
More than a few people in line this morning were not there to buy a new phone, but rather to receive tech support for the version 1 phone which was disrupted by a failed software upgrade. This resulted in some tension and hostility in the long line of waiting customers. These are not feelings usually associated with Apple and more could certainly have been done to avoid the mess this morning, both in the stores and for users at home.
No doubt that all of this will soon settle down and sentiments from customers in love with their new iPhones will prevail over launch day glitches.
Good luck to all new iPhone users. May the force be with you.