They Better Get Their Shit Together Before Monday...

This iPhone launch has really been screwed. Unlike some of my friends, they haven’t deactivated my old phone yet (mostly, I think, because I didn’t call Verizon to tell them anything) but I’m sure they will do so long before I get the email telling me that my iPhone is activated if the rest of the stories are at all accurate.

At this point, I don’t even care who’s fault it is. The thing Apple had to know is that, whomever is to blame, customers bring this thing home and sit in front of their program on their computers to activate it and that fact makes it Apple’s fault. I don’t even believe that its largely Apple’s fault technically, but again, it doesn’t matter.

Lets look at this from a higher-level perspective. If you are Apple, you:

  • had to know how many units you were going to ship out to stores and thus the exact maximum activation load AT&T could possibly have to handle
  • had to know how long the average purchase was going to take, since making activation offline then turns the point-of-sale into the same experience of buying an iPod, and thus could model the time series of activations relatively accurately (again, being conservative to make sure the launch went smoothly)
  • had to understand demand would be higher on the West Coast because you sell a bunch of other shit that has higher demand levels on the West Coast and the demographics between those customers and iPhone customers are largely the same (if they aren’t, you can’t assume they aren’t, anyway)
  • had to know that your partner is basically incompetent

Apple has retail stores, for chrissakes! They’ve launched wildly popular items before! (recently, even) They had to have this data. Not mining it correctly was negligent of them.

There are two important meta-points in all of this that I’d like to iterate.

First, this is Jobs’ legacy product. The “going out on a high note” dealie. He can’t be pleased with how this launch will be remembered at this point. I can imagine him sitting in front of his iPhone screaming at AT&T execs, voice hoarse from having done so since about 7PM PST Friday night. This may all wash over in the end, but he’s just got to be upset right now.

Secondly, this had all better be worked out by Monday morning.


Because the people buying iPhones have jobs.

It costs too much for it to be otherwise on a large scale. Those people need to make calls. Having to wait 24 hours to make or receive a call again is not a tenable situation for the vast majority of them. If this rolls into Tuesday, expect to see massive returns of the iBrick.

I think they can pull it out if they work it out by Monday. However, if not, I really can’t see anything good coming of it, since Monday is also the day the news media wakes up and they are all just pining for the opportunity to smash a big pie in Apple’s face. That’s schaudenfraude for you. If they don’t work it out by then, the choice of headline words in news stories goes from “bumpy” to “disastrous”.