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Apple says 10-15 min activation, no online sales

updated 03:25 am EDT, Wed July 9, 2008

Apple talks iPhone launch

Apple on Wednesday touted that the new in-store activation process will only take between 12 and 15 minutes as well as said that it will not offer the iPhone 3G via its online store as a means to prevent unauthorized unlocks by customers. A Bloomberg interview with Apple retail chief Ron Johnson notes that each of its 185 retail stores in the U.S. are prepped to handle about 100 customers an hour (about 30 at a time) and that each customer, as detailed on its website, will be required to present credit card and Social Security number so the device can be activated immediately; unlike last year, customers will be required to sign a two-year contract.

With supply of iPhone 3Gs still unknown and some worldwide carriers expecting to sellout in "minutes" due to supply issues, lines have already begun forming in Japan and at the Fifth Avenue Store in New York City; several reports note that any outage in the AT&T activation or Apple online systems would result in a log-jam at the hundreds of retail outlets and leave people stranded inside and outside the stores. While some countries will allow it, Apple has largely abandoned high touted at-home, iTunes-based activation process, which experienced some failures (and here) last year.

The interview confirms that Apple retail will offer a "Personal Setup service" that will help customers select a model, choose an AT&T service plan (which now start at $70 and no longer include text messages), and ensure that the device is ready to make calls, browse the Web and receive e-mail. Apple has pledged to spend as much time as it takes "to make sure they're happy with the phone," Johnson told the publication.

Like last year, the company will allow customers to check Apple's website to see the availability of iPhones at the company's stores, indicating that at least some stores will have a short supply during the weeks following the launch. Apple stopped short of saying that there will be enough supply to meet the demand on launch day.

"[There is] pent-up demand because we haven't had phones for a while. Our goal is to always have enough supply for every customer," Johnson said in the interview.

by MacNN Staff



  1. macbroadway

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Social Security Numbers??

    For what reason does Apple need a social security number? Unless they are a government agency or they are planning to run a credit check on customers, there is no reason for them to require social security numbers. I'll provide them with my current AT&T account information and proof of id. Beyond that, they'll be losing a customer if they want a SSN. Perhaps they should ask for a US Passport instead.

  1. horvatic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    SS number is for credit c

    There is a reason for your SS number. It's for a credit check. AT&T like most cell carriers require a credit check before they approve you for a 2 year contract. You can't get a contract anywhere for any phone without it.

  1. RiquiScott

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Credit Check

    For new AT&T customers, I'd expect there to be a "soft" credit check as part of the activation process to determine if a deposit is required, so they'd need your SSN for that.

    But for existing AT&T customers like you, I suspect you won't need to give them your SSN.

  1. TheSnarkmeister

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "and Social Security"

    What possible justification does Apple have for demanding people's Social Security numbers?! With identity theft running rampant this is a ridiculous and irresponsible requirement. Apple is opening themselves up to all sorts of liability exposure, as it is retail employees who will be handling and copying these documents. The first time a copy of that information gets faxed to Malaysia, any halfway descent lawyer would be wise to claim that Apple made the essential contribution to the crime by placing the victim's identity into the criminal's reach. It is one thing for users to enter this data themselves into a an encrypted form from the safety of their own homes, it is entirely something else to hand it over to a $9/hr. retail employee.

    Even letting Apple corporate have the data presents some risk. For example, my brother-in-law had his dot Mac account hacked a few years ago. We did a careful forensic investigation at their end because my sister works in a high security environment. It was concluded that the breach most likely came from within Apple. Not only was it extremely difficult to get anyone at Apple to respond, they absolutely refused to provide any assistance in the matter. They couldn't even get access to their own account's logs.

    As for the "credit check" argument... That's specious, a check can be done without handing over sensitive data to an unbonded employee. In fact, one has to wonder how much of identity theft originates in cell-phone stores as it is. This is one of the key reasons I use pay-as-you go phones. My credit could buy Cuba, but I'm not about to give a part-time employee at the AT&T store access to it.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    identity theft

    You think that's bad, my sister renewed her drivers license online in Florida. Yesterday, she found they mailed her a new license. Yes, mailed. No signature required. In a post box any idiot could walk up to and open.

    Some people just have their asses up the a**. (yeah, its that bad).

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