The High-Tech Texan Blog

Friday, July 11, 2008

Deja 2.0

It was just one year and 12 days ago when I hung out at the AT&T Experience Store on the Southwest Freeway with a few hundred people waiting in line for iPhone 1. Things were a bit more calm this morning as about 150 people lined up by 8am to get their hands on Part Deux.

One noticeable difference from last year...a lot less media and newspeople were in attendance. A Chronicle reporter and videographer, a photographer from Metro News, a Fox 26 live truck and me and my producer from KTRH got the "exclusive" stories of consumers plopping down $200+ for the new gadget.

The local sales director, Leah Bird, was on hand to provide the requisite sound bites. According to her, most all 50 local AT&T stores had lines outside the door before 8am. Some as large as 200 people.

The doors slid open just before 8am and unlike the mass throng of people filing in to grab iPhones, pay, run home and activate, AT&T only let a handful in the store at a time. There was approximately 14 sales reps taking care of customers which means the other hundred or so people had to stand outside in the morning heat (and it was very toasty) to wait to get in the store.

Juan Velasquez, a 20 year-old Rice student, was the first in line at 11pm Thursday night. He and his buddy took turns sleeping in his car but both were giddy as the doors opened. His transaction of a white 16GB model took just over 15 minutes and as the sales process and day progressed, he seemed to be the lucky one with that relatively speedy check out.

AT&T and Apple had previously announced that all new iPhones would be activated at the stores, a departure from last year's simple process where owners activated their iPhones at home via a computer connection. When I paid for my 8GB model about 8:20am the sales rep started to activate my phone by downloading a rudimentary version of iTunes. After 15 minutes he decided to pull the plug (literally) and told me to activate at home. Reports across the Internet have said the same thing and most all stores are telling customers to activate it online at home. So much for the upgraded process.

Though most people are having issues getting through to the Apple servers for activation I was able to connect after about five minutes. I just now fully synchronized my new iPhone and it appears to be up and running. Several of my friends just emailed me to say they gave up on activation today and will try again tomorrow.

I will post some reviews of the new smartphone on here soon and Leah Bird will join me as my guest Saturday at 12 noon on my radio program (The 9-5-0). Let me know of your iPhone thoughts, stories and issues.

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