Software problems bug Apple's launch of new iPhone - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Software problems bug Apple's launch of new iPhone

NEW YORK (AP) - Apple Inc.'s new iPhone went on sale Friday to eager buyers worldwide, but there were problems getting the phones to work.

Kenny Pichardo, 24, was the first to buy an iPhone 3G at an AT&T store in the New York borough of Queens, but he said it took the store half an hour to get the phone activated.

That boded badly for the approximately 70 people after him in line. Pichardo had camped out overnight to be first.

A spokesman for AT&T Inc., the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the U.S., said there was a global problem with Apple Inc.'s iTunes servers that prevented the phones from being fully activated in-store, as had been planned.

Instead, employees are telling buyers to go home and perform the last step by connecting their phones to their own computers, spokesman Michael Coe said.

At Apple's flagship store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, customers were waiting at the counter for at least 20 minutes to get their new phones activated.

When the first iPhone went on sale a year ago, customers performed the whole activation procedure at home, freeing store employees to focus on sales. But the new model is subsidized by carriers, as is standard in the wireless industry, and Apple and AT&T therefore planned to activate all phones in-store to get customers on a contract.

The problem extended to owners of the previous iPhone model. A software update released for that phone on Friday morning required the phone to be reactivated through iTunes.

"It's a mess," said freelance photographer Giovanni Cipriano, who updated his first-generation iPhone only to find it unusable.

On Thursday, Apple had problems with the launch of a new data service, MobileMe. The service is designed to synchronize a users personal data across devices, including the iPhone, but many users were denied access to their accounts.

Enthusiasm was high ahead of the 8 a.m. launch of the new phone, and a line of hundreds at the Fifth Avenue store encircled the block. Many of them were already owners of the first iPhone, suggesting that Apple is preaching to the choir with the new model, which updates the one launched a year ago by speeding up Internet access and adding a navigation chip.

Thanks to subsidies by the carrier, the price has also been cut substantially to $199 for the cheapest model in the United States.

Alex Cavallo, 24, lined up at the Fifth Avenue store, just as he had been a year ago for the original iPhone. He sold that one recently on eBay in anticipation of the new one. In the meantime, he has been using another phone, which felt "uncomfortable."

"The iPhone is just a superior user experience," he said. The phone also proved a decent investment for him: He bought the old model for $599 and sold it for $570.

Nick Epperson, a 24-year-old grad student, spent the night outside an AT&T store in Atlanta, keeping his cheer up with bags of Doritos, three games of Scrabble and two packs of cigarettes. Asked why he was waiting in line, he responded simply "Chicks dig the iPhone."

The new phone went on sale Friday in 21 countries, with one more, France, following next week. In most of them it was the first time any iPhone was officially sold there, though several countries have seen a brisk grey-market trade in phones imported from the U.S.

IPhone fever was strong even in Japan, where consumers are used to tech-heavy that do restaurant searches, e-mail, music downloads, reading digital novels and electronic shopping. More than 1,000 people lined up at the Softbank Corp. store in Tokyo and the phone quickly sold out.

"Just look at this obviously innovative design," Yuki Kurita, 23, said as he emerged from buying his iPhone, carrying bags of clothing and a skateboard he had used as a chair during his wait outside the Tokyo store. "I am so thrilled just thinking about how I get to touch this."

The phone went on sale first in New Zealand, where hundreds of people lined up outside stores in New Zealand's main cities to snap it up right at midnight - 8 a.m. Thursday in New York.

"Steve Jobs knows what people want," Web developer Lucinda McCullough told the Christchurch Press newspaper, referring to Apple's chief executive. "And I need a new phone."

In Germany, sales were brisk at local carrier T-Mobile's stores, particularly in Munich, Hamburg and Cologne, said spokeswoman Marion Kessing.

 

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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