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.