iPhone Activation

One of the ways in which the iPhone claims to be revolutionary is how you activate it. Rather than sitting in the store and having someone press a few dozen numbers on your phone, you simply take it home and plug it into your computer and follow a few easy screens in iTunes. Sounds great! And great it is! On Tammy's phone, it was flawless. I changed her phone on her existing account and it flowed with ease through iTunes. Everything was great. No issues. Bliss.

Then it was my turn. I knew this would be more complicated since I decided that I was going to move my phone to my individual account and no longer submit it through my business. During the weekend I called AT&T and the service representative said I had to call back on Monday, but I could just activate now on my individual plan and they could fix it up on Monday. It turns out that was incorrect. After about 90 minutes of time on the phone with AT&T this is what had to be done.

  1. Transfer my existing account from the business to a new individual account.
  2. Move my existing individual account to the same "market" as my business number was. [This seems totally odd to me.]
  3. Cancel the activation I did on my iPhone before.
  4. Get a new SIM card for iPhone. [Once you activate a SIM card it's toast, trip to the store!]
  5. Reactivate iPhone.

I came within millimeters of just giving up and changing numbers. I'm going to be astounded if there are no billing issues the first couple of months.

Note: there was some concern on various sites about replacing your SIM card. I can say with confidence that replacing your SIM card is very painless on the iPhone. Just pop a new one in from AT&T and re-activate in iTunes. All of your existing sync settings will be retained.

The story has a happy ending. After getting a new SIM card, and having the AT&T people get my account all prepared for it, activation was flawless on my phone as well.

There are many people complaining about activation problems. Perhaps Apple didn't spend enough time on this process. Or, in my opinion, they are just trying to do something that isn't possible. The complexity required to move my phone would be incredibly hard to code around, and expensive. Solving the problem seamlessly for 80% is great, but the other 20% are probably thinking it's easier than it really is.