iPhone 3G woes

Well, I tried again today to get a new 3G iPhone for Su. We went over to the Michigan Ave. store in Chicago and tested our powers against fate. An Apple employee in an orange shirt said: “let me start by saying some things:

  • From this point in the line (and there looked like there were maybe 30 people in front of us), the wait will be 4 hours.” Ok, annoying, but doable since we gave up last time(on Friday) because of the wait.
  • “We are out of the 16GB black iPhone.” Non starter.
  • “We are the only store who has iPhones left in Illinois.” Wow, did Apple really underestimate the sales volume?

So what do I think of all this?
I understand that Apple(well, really AT&T) doesn’t want to sell phones without a plan. But there are *so* many ways without making people go through all these hoops. They could have:

  • Asked people to pay the full unlocked price. Then when you sign up with AT&T, you get a credit for the subsidy.
  • Asked people to sign up online at home with all the information they need to buy the right iPhone and the right plan. Then you just go to the store and give them an activation number. Done and done.
  • Provided more iPhones to AT&T stores. There are a lot more of them and would have made more people happier sooner.

Why didn’t Apple think of all this and just get it done?

  • A lot of people tend to balk at a large outflow of money (even though they would get it back right away).
  • Generally speaking, your average consumer is an idiot and doesn’t know how to sign up for all this stuff on-line. That being said, I hear that a lot of purchasers are previous iPhone folk so theoretically they should have *some* idea what they are doing. On the other hand, AT&T web sites are totally crap.
  • Given that they are running out of iPhones anyway, this point might be moot. My other suspicion is why not let people buy all their iPhone accessories at your store rather than AT&T’s store. Not to mention, they might be inspired to buy more general mac hardware.
  • Apple likes to make people wait. I attended WWDC 08 and there was nothing short of a long wait to get inside to watch the keynote address. Waiting creates lines which creates hype in the news which (I guess) sells more iPhones.

So what are the next steps?
Probably wait a few more days and see if inventory levels of the proper 16GB black version become available. Maybe, just maybe, it’s worth waiting for the 32GB version?

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