I had lunch with my friend Matt yesterday, and he mentioned that he read somewhere that the AT&T and Apple stores weren’t going to start selling iPhones until 6PM on launch day (June 29). Why on earth would they wait until 6PM on a Friday? To make the people who are camping out wait even longer? I don’t know if that’s true, or what the reasoning behind it is, but it got me thinking.
Recall, now, in your mind, the last time you bought a cell phone, and signed up for a new contract. In person, because doing the the
cheap smart easy way on Amazon.com doesn’t count. Think about how much paperwork you had to fill out. How much personal information you had to give (social security number, credit references, etc.). And think about how long it took – probably anywhere from a half an hour to an hour, if my experiences are any indication.
Now think about the fact that every single iPhone sold is going to require a two year contract with AT&T. Think of how long it’s going to take to sign up and process a new account activation for every single iPhone unit. Think about the people that don’t pass the credit check, and find out after camping out overnight that they need to give AT&T a deposit to secure their account. Think about all of the people that are existing AT&T/Cingular customers, and the chaos that will ensue as the sales staff tries to figure out what to do with them (are they even allowed to buy an iPhone? do they have to extend the term of their contract?). Think of how many sales staff people it’s going to take to make this run anywhere near smoothly.
It’s said that there will be 3 million iPhones available at launch. Multiply that by the average amount of time it’s going to take to process and activate each one of them, and you’ll see that every Apple Store and AT&T Store employee is going to be doing nothing but iPhone activations for the next month.
If Apple does, in fact, decide to sell the iPhone starting at 6PM on the 29th, my best guess is because they’re going to need a little time to convert every Apple Store in North America into a giant AT&T Account Activation center. Line up, shuffle in, and you’ll be assimilated in the order in which you arrived.
If I were the criminal type, I’d circulate up and down the iPhone lines at the stores with official looking fake paperwork, asking people to fill out their name, address, SSN, and a credit card number to “speed up the process when you get to the front of the line”. Forget about mugging the line-waiters for the $500-$600 dollars that they’re dying to hand over – few will likely have cash, anyway. Just steal their personal information and go buy a bunch of stuff online, or sell their identity to a meth dealer…