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iPhone buyers experience activation woes

updated 11:55 am EDT, Sat June 30, 2007

iPhone activation woes

Apple's in-home activation strategy failed for many customers (login required), including early customers who tried to activate their account or transfer numbers from another carrier. Before using an iPhone, users are required to download iTunes 7.3 and connect their iPhone to the computer, but in some cases, customers were not able to activate their phones. Customer representatives said that the cause was due to the high number simultaneous activations, but the online activation process -- a first for the industry -- appears to have marred the "I want the smile" experience for which Apple and AT&T were hoping. In many cases, customers were greeted with the message "your activation requires additional time to complete" and were told that AT&T would send an e-mail message when complete, leaving many with a $500-600 "slick" paperweight (at least until activated).

Unfortunately, prior to activation, new customers are unable to use any iPhone functions -- including the iPod -- until the process is complete as the iPhone continues to display the "Activate iPhone... Connect to iTunes" message. Representatives also said that the iPhone must remain connected to the Mac and the Internet for the process to complete, but were unable to give an estimated time for completion or any workarounds for the process.

Delays are in some cases reported to be substantial. "9 hours and waiting in new york. anyone waiting this long?" writes one poster to Apple's support forums. Other posters claim times of six, 12, or even 15 or more hours without any resolution from AT&T or Apple.

One specific, recurring complaint has involved trouble with automatically trasnferring an old number, which may be resolvable by getting in contact with an AT&T state Number Porting office. iPhone buyers have, however, also encountered activations that failed locally but succeeded on AT&T's end, or conflicts with earlier phone plans, such as moving from an individual account to a Family Plan.

by MacNN Staff





  1. mmitchell6

    Joined: Dec 1969


    lack of activation

    13+ hours and still waiting

  1. ClickSpace

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Fast activation

    A friend of mine in Portland had his phone activated in minutes, including transferring a phone number from his Verizon account. He was thrilled! He said "this was the fastest activation process he's ever experienced".

  1. gambit23

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Activation was a breeze for me. Feel bad for the people having problems but that's a minority from what I've heard.

  1. byRyan

    Joined: Dec 1969



    14+ hours and waiting (in phoenix AZ) - the set up was very easy.. until all of a sudden "Your activation requires additional time to complete" - my other friend here who bought a phone has the same problem. We were both with AT&T before today as well

  1. robttwo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    and by tomorrow

    no one will care about this.

    By the way, ever have a landline installed? Or cable? Or power? or water? or DSL? or any other utility?

    just perspective.

  1. petsounds

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: breeze

    I don't think it's a minority, based on the comments I've read on engadget and howardsforums. This is widespread.

    I've been waiting 14 hours. Just got off the phone with an AT&T rep who said activation could take 24-48 hours.

    Needless to say, I am PISSED. This is not an Apple Experience. I hope Steve Jobs is launching an all-out assault on the Death Star, because their incompetence and inability to handle the load on their system has tarnished their product launch.

  1. chas_m



    Yes it's a minority

    I've heard from 100 customers who have bought the iPhone. One -- repeat, ONE -- had issues. I know it's anecdotal, but it's CLEARLY a minority of users. My own activation went perfectly smoothly. You DON'T HEAR from people who's activation was PROBLEM-FREE.

    Just some perspective.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I was waiting for over 16 hours and my email came in saying the activation was complete JUST as I was reading this post! TIME TO GO IPHONE NUTS!!!

  1. mitchcohen

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Fine here

    I started the activation process while still in the mall where I bought the iPhone (had my laptop with me). Got the "Requires additional time" message. I wasn't shocked, given I was trying activation 30 minutes after they first went on sale (6:30pm ET).

    So I drove an hour home, plugged the iPhone in, and it said it was activated. Been using it fine since.

    My number hasn't transferred from Sprint yet, but I know (from prior transfer experience) that can take a while. I can make outgoing calls from my iPhone fine, but incoming calls still go to my old Treo. No big deal.

    And based on the number of posts in Apple's iPhone forum there are MANY people with activated iPhones. Some with legit problems, most are feature requests.

  1. e:leaf

    Joined: Dec 1969


    18 hours

    According to my confirmation email that I received from iTunes, I submitted for activation at 7.24p last night. It's now 1.38p, and still no activation. AT&T originally said up to 6 hours, then 8, now it's 24-48. If they hadn't of cut off my other cell phone within minutes, it wouldn't be so bad. But, since I don't have a land line, they have cut off my only source of phone and left me hanging. It's plain ridiculous that I'm being asked to wait 2 days for a cell phone activation, when I was promised by those lovely videos from Apple, that activation would be done in mere minutes. Right now, I'm at over 1000 minutes in wait time.

    Not cool.

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