There is no shortage of live coverage of the iPhone. Almost all reports indicate long lines made worse by slow service. All fingers point to the AT&T activation servers, which were overwhelmed establishing accounts for throngs of new customers nationwide.
The problem is the compulsory activation.
It worked pretty well last year--you waited in a jovial line as if it were 1987 and Def Leppard tickets were about to go on sale, you walked in and picked out a shrink-wrapped box from a shelf of shrink-wrapped boxes, paid a guy or gal Apple has dubbed a "genius," and made your way home where you could activate the phone on your own time.
This year, no one leaves the store without an activated AT&T account. Apple claimed the activation was a slam dunk. Apple retail vice president Ron Johnson told Bloomberg, "in 10 to 15 minutes, you'll be set up and ready to go." But it seems to have missed its mark by a factor of 10. InformationWeek's Eric Zeman, waiting in line at the Apple Store in Rockaway, N.J., reports it took "2.75 hours" to activate the first 20 customers.
There are reports that O2, the exclusive carrier in the United Kingdom, navigated similar straits earlier.