3G iPhone sales still a fiasco (updated)

Update: On my friend Steve Oskoui‘s recommendation, I went into an AT&T store, and put my name on a waiting list. They’ll call me, hopefully in a few weeks and I can come in and pick up my iPhone. This is way more civilized than waiting in 100F heat for several hours at the Apple store – thanks for the tip Steve! Actually my first instinct was to go to an AT&T store shortly after the iPhones came out, but when I called they just said they didn’t have any and mentioned nothing about a waiting list.

I’d like to get a 3G iPhone.  I resisted getting the first series iPhone because I’d recently purchased a Blackberry, but I’m now at a point where its time for a smartphone upgrade.

Only problem is, I don’t need an iPhone badly enough to stand in line for hours at the Apple Store.  My strategery, therefore, was to wait a few weeks until the lines die down.  I thought yesterday might be a good day to try, boy was I wrong.

I turned up at 9am at an Apple Store in North Austin (one of two in the city) to see a line stretching almost a block, with I’d guess about 150 people.  The scuttlebutt in the line was that the people getting their phone at 9am had been there since 7.15am, and the earliest arrivals had been there quite a bit before that!

I decided to do some research and found an Apple Store employee.  The first surprise was that the primary bottleneck was not availability of the devices, but the time required to qualify customers for AT&T.  Apparently people were waiting in line for hours only to find that AT&T wouldn’t qualify them!  There was more than a hint of frustration among the Apple Store employees.

Some sanity though, they would give out tickets which would allow you to come back at any time before 6pm and guarantee you a handset.  The bad news?  She thought it would take them several hours just to get to the back of the line with the tickets!

I thanked her for the information, and told her I’d be back in a month.

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