AT&T’s Apple iPhone activation problems may have affected almost half of early buyers

“Apple Inc. on Wednesday announced it sold and shipped 270,000 iPhones in the first two days of the device’s debut weekend, nearly double the number its wireless partner claimed had been activated in that same stretch,” Gregg Keizer reports for Computerworld.

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer “acknowledged the activation delays that plagued many of the first buyers. ‘AT&T did have some activation problems,’ he said. ‘We would like to apologize to those customers who had a less than a perfect activation experience,'” Keizer reports.

“At the time, Apple spokespeople maintained that the delays affected only a small percentage of buyers. If, however, the 124,000-iPhone difference between the two figures is attributable to users not being able to activate, the problem may have hit up to 46% of those who purchased an iPhone on June 29 or June 30,” Keizer reports.

“‘AT&T said more iPhones were sold in the first weekend than they had sold in the first month of any other wireless device in their entire history,'” said Tim Cook, chief operating officer,” Keizer reports.

Full article here.


  1. That assumes that every single person who bought an iphone received it instantly (not true for online orders) and tried to activate it prior to close of business on Saturday (unlikely).

    Another ridiculous article from clueless “experts”.

  2. klapka: I agree with you. However I don’t believe that that 270,000 number includes online orders (which weren’t shipped until after the quarter so won’t count as sales).

    I personally had my iPhone for 2 days before I activated it, because I had to sort out some issues with my AT&T account before I activated it. My delay had nothing to do with “activation problems”.

  3. OH NOES! But I thought that half those iPhones were actually accessory purchases and not phones at all…
    Okay, I’d like to address that. I was there opening day. I saw a lot of people buying a lot of phones, sometimes 2 and 3 at a time. I did not see ONE single person buying accessories. I’m not saying that no one did, but it was certainly not half. All the people I saw just held up fingers (over the din) indicating “4” or “8”, or sometimes “1” or “2” for how many phones they wanted. I didn’t see this supposed flood of docking station or extra earbud purchases.

  4. Grasping at straws for any kind of negative publicity about the iPhone or AT&T …

    They hope that somehow this will tranlate into the iPhone becoming a failure ….

    It’s too late morons ….. brilliance, design, and logic have won over greed, incompetence and stupidity.

    The cat’s out of the bag!

    Why not just come in …. the waters warm and cleansing …
    You’ll feel so much better throwing off your MicroSoft suit of rusty armour and enjoying the freedom of the Apple speedo.

  5. I am sorry but AT&T was not able to handle the volume. And although it was impressive that Apple sold 270,000 phones in two days, it was no where near some of the predictions being touted by analysts such as 500,000 to 750,000. Which doubly means AT&T really dropped the ball when it came to activations. I always said that I would buy an iPhone when the network catches up to its capabilities. Right now its like running a Ferrari on a muddy, rutted, dirt road.

  6. i don’t think that was a case of half the users being affected by AT&T incompetence. I think it is the case of many other things. Let me break it down:

    20% purchased by early adopters. New to AT&T network

    20% purchased by early adopters. already existing AT&T customers

    5% purchased a 2nd iphone to resell on Ebay

    10% purchased a 2nd iphone by magazines/online blogs to review, take apart, experiment

    15% purchased by competitors to take apart and reverse engineer. This include the likes of MS, Nokia, Samsung, Sony, Motorola,Blackberry ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    30% a combination of all of the above who could not get activated on the AT&T network.

  7. Since everyone is effectively isolated from everyone else, no one can really verify the claim that only a few % of iPhone customers had issues. Unless someone takes a poll – but does it really matter now?

    AT&T are hardly going to tell the truth and say that around 40% of customers had problems with activation are they? It’d look pretty bad for them and their network, even though there were special circumstances causing it.

    Alternatively, if they’d been upfront and said there might be delays, maybe people might have delayed purchase too, waiting until things had quietened down a little.

    There’s little doubt these things were underplayed, to ensure a good sales run leading up to the end of the quarter.

    Had the device been somewhat operational (e.g. iPod/wifi usage) for a few days while the AT&T network caught up, most of the annoyance people felt while they waited for activation would have been alleviated. I hope they do this in Europe, if the networks can’t get the activations performed quickly.

  8. According to the webcast:

    270,000 was phone sales only (not accessories)
    Sales from Brick-and -Mortar stores only (not on-line sales)
    Included all Apple stores and some AT&T stores, though it wasn’t clear whether the ‘some’ was all the AT&T stores that were selling the phone (since not all AT&T stores were selling them.

    Why is it so important to these hacks that activations didn’t match sales? They were obviously not likely to anyway…

    Quick answer – easy anti-Apple FUD.

  9. I ordered mine online the first Saturday they were available and just got mine this past Monday, so yeah, I don’t think activation problems plagues half of iPhone buyers. It just means that AT&T couldn’t possibly give an accurate number of sales in the first 30 hours. Only Apple could do that.

    It’s shocking to me that Apple sold 270,000 iPhones in the first 30 hours they were on sale. It took the iPod a lot longer to reach that number when it was released. I can’t wait for the end of this quarter to find out how many iPhones Apple really sells in a quarter. I have a feeling it’s going to be in the multi-millions. Steve’s goal of 10 million by the end of 2008 will probably be met by the end of Christmas 2007.

  10. I bought one for myself and another as a gift. Mine was activated y 6:20 p.m. PDT Friday night. The other also activated quickly, easily – but not until Monday. Both are existing AT&T accounts.

    I suspect I am representative of a larger sample.

  11. AT&T sucks and they were ill prepared for the iPhone launch. What Apple should have done is forced AT&T to refund everyones $36 activation fee instead of just apologizing for the activation issues. The iPhone itself is great, let’s just hope AT&T can get their sh*t together sometime here in the next 5 years.

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