Hanging Up on the iPhone

May 18th, 2007 | Posted in It's All Geek to Me!


Back when it was announced, I wrote this article on the upcoming iPhone and how candy-like the appeal would be for it… at least for me.

It may be a long time before I look into getting one now.

I talked at length with a friend who is as AT&T Wireless store manager about the upcoming iPhone. Under condition of anonymity he told me most AT&T employees are unhappy with Apple and the way they are leaving AT&T on the hook for what is sure to be angry customer backlash over Apple’s handling of the ‘release’ of the gadget.

They are not allowed to tell people when it will be available, take names or lists for those interested in getting one or God forbid any pre-orders. They won’t even tell the stores when it will happen, nor how many they will get. It will be a “come in and stand in line” only release, at least as far as the retail stores go. He told me Apple is planning on intentionally keeping supplies far lower than expected demand to ‘keep the buzz going’ and creating an artificial shortage to support the outrageous prices they are asking. Apple is also planning a stunt by delivering the first batches of phones in armored cars. Some of the above is verified by web articles citing an internal AT&T store memo.

Rumor or truth? I guess we won’t know until next month. If it’s true it will intentionally anger and frustrate people who only want to buy Apple’s products. In this case they are insulated by AT&T from any consumer venom, so they can do what they want and let AT&T take the heat. My manager friend is tired of getting yelled at by customers for what they see as being uncooperative in regards to the iPhone release, and is dreading the release itself and the headaches it will cause. The most frustrating thing for him will be knowing that, if Apple release enough phones to cover demand and were more open about it’s plans and release dates, the problems would be much smaller and the profits far higher.

My friend’s employer isn’t exactly innocent in all this, either. It sounds as if they are not going to subsidize the price of the phone with the signing of a guaranteed two year contract like they do with all other phones, so it’ll be full price or nothing. In fact, the rumor is they will actually be asking a little more in the stores for the iPhone. I don’t think my friend is lying but maybe he is misinformed. That would be hard considering he’s basically not informed at all by Apple.

Maybe he’s wrong and Apple will release plenty of phones. Maybe all this is just rumor. I guess we’ll see, but either way I won’t be on board for a while. The iPod part of the phone is little more than a toy, without enough memory at 8 GB to store a decent amount of video. I’ll wait for the touch screen version of the true iPod to be released… something Apple is also delaying to increase sales on the iPhone, also to the frustration of consumers. I’ll wait for a second generation of the iPhone, or until reason resumes control, prices become sane and I can walk into an AT&T store and buy one without any drama.


  1. lbmayer says:

    Well, I’m not so sure that you can blame Apple for venomous, yelling customers who come into AT&T stores for being “uncooperative” about a release date. In fact, I’m not sure you can even BE uncooperative about a releaese date. Either way, the retail store employees and AT&T may have different viewpoints on supply and demand. For a company, there’s no downside to having too many customers. For store employees, it’s a little more personal and, I can admit, frustrating to have 50 buyers and only 22 phones. Anyway, I’m sure your friend wants to get paid, so enduring this iPhone blast-off is just part of the job.

  2. cedricstudio says:

    If these rumors are indeed true, I share your frustration. But human nature being what it is, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if releasing them a few at a time isn’t part of some strategy to keep people salivating and therefore increase profits (and that’s really what its all about from Apple’s perspective). But I hope the rumors are false.

    I’m going to try really hard to resist buying one right away. I hope I have the patience to wait a few weeks for reviews to start popping up online and make sure its as great as everyone thinks it will be. As amazing as some features are, so far there’s been no indication from Apple that the phone will have voice dialing, and that is a key feature for me.

  3. Tom says:

    Lbmayer- Considering the enormous hype Apple is happy to generate and perpetuate concerning the iPhone, I think it’s very fair to hold them accountable for not being more forthcoming with release details. As a consumer, it makes me angry to take the time to go into an AT&T store to inquire about when and how I can give said store $600 of my hard earned money, only to be told “I can’t tell you that” as an answer to almost every question I have. Apple’s arrogance is very much apparent here.

    I’m a fan of Apples products, but not of all their business practices.

  4. shawn says:

    I’m with you, Tom.
    Knowing that companies intentionally put out low quantities to keep demand up, I will not buy that product, period. It’s an insult to me, the customer, and I’d rather spend my money where it’s wanted, not where I have to take a number.

    I also cringe around the holidays when I see people camping out for days outside of a store just to get one of the latest game systems or hot toy.

  5. Sounds VERY similar to game console launches.
    Personally, I’m not planning on getting one, simply based on the features. Not worth it for me. Plus, I rather like my tiny pre-paid flip phone($15/month! yay!). I only buy flip phones. If I choose to upgrade, it’ll be one with a full keyboard I can feel. I don’t expect typing to be very easy on the touch screen. There was one feature that’s missing from the iPhone, too, that was a fairly large drawback, but I can’t remember what it was. It’s possible it just wasn’t mentioned or may be added later, though.


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