Activation problems bug iPhone 3G launch

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">The first buyer in Hong Kong Ho Kak-yin holds his new iPhone during the first day of the release in Hong Kong, Friday July 11, 2008. As Apple rolled out its newest iPhone in Asia Friday, dealers and buyers said it&#39;s only a matter of time -maybe as little as a few days - before the popular device hits the region&#39;s thriving underground marketplace. &#40;AP Photo&#47;Kin Cheung&#41;</span></div>
July 11, 2008 6:45:32 PM PDT
It's tough being popular. Thousands of people lined up at Apple stores around the Bay Area to buy the new iPhone G3. However, demand was so great that customers at first had a hard time activating their phones, and then later the problem became just getting one.

One AT&T store in San Francisco was out before noon and an another in Emeryville only has 8 GB models. Nevertheless, Apple fans told us the new iPhone was worth the wait.

iPhone 3G mania hit the Bay Area with demand that was apparently too much for the Apple iTunes' servers to bear.

"There is a backup of demand and too many customers are tethering their devices to the servers. Once that is relieved things should go very smoothly," said AT&T spokesman John Britton.

Alex Tramiel was second in line at the Palo Alto store Friday morning. However, it took more than two hours to activate his iPhone.

"There was a 30-minute wait when no one could activate their phone," said Tramiel.

The San Francisco store had similar delays.

"I actually spent two nights sleeping out here and now the police are telling me to move my tent because it's taking so long. That's disappointing," said San Francisco customer Dale Larson.

Another obstacle facing customers was the inability of the Apple store to process discounted or corporate AT&T plans. Apple store workers tried to pull people out of the long line to keep them from facing frustration inside.

Marjory Marquardt and her mom waited three hours in line, and once inside it took about three more hours to get her phone.

"They say it's an activation error 'cause I think the AT&T servers are too full to have any more numbers on it," said Marquardt.

Despite the activation delays, the iPhone has excited the tech crowd. It's a little thinner than the original iPhone, plus it has GPS and the faster 3G cellular network speeds.

"They have hardware, software and services which the other companies don't have the same way to respond," said tech analyst Tim Bajarin.

The iPhone is also cheaper than the original. It's $199 for the 8 GB model and $299 for the 16 GB.

And then there's the cool factor. Whether you're 16 or 60, sometimes being the first one to have the next great gadget among your friends and family is worth the time and money.

Apple also launched a new application page for the iPhone. Many of the application providers were out handing out information cards to get people to download their products. Most are free and you can download them at the iTunes store.