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Server problems delay new iPhone users

POSTED: July 16, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Sara Guevara/The Times

A long line wraps around the AT&T Store on Jesse Jewell Parkway as customers wait Friday to purchase the newly released iPhone.

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Apple Inc.’s new iPhone went on sale Friday to eager buyers worldwide, including dozens who lined up before dawn at the AT&T store on Jesse Jewell Parkway.

But the much-anticipated launch hit a snag later in the day due to software problems.

Jordan Wayne, 20, of Gainesville, was beaming as she emerged from the local store after standing in line for three hours.

"I got here at 6:45 and I just got out," said Wayne, a North Georgia college student, who was proudly holding the new electronic device in her hand.

"I didn’t have the first iPhone, I had this old dingy phone," she said. "I came in for an upgrade and they said, ‘Why don’t you wait and get the new iPhone in three weeks.’"

Sheila Loggins, a nurse from Gainesville, had been waiting in the line since 6:15 a.m. to get her second iPhone. The three-and-a-half hour wait made her late for work, but she said it was worth it.

"I actually have an iPhone and I love it," she said. "I wanted to get one with a bigger hard drive and some of the new specs that this one had."

Nick Epperson, a 24-year-old grad student, spent the night outside an AT&T store in Atlanta, keeping his cheer up with bags of Doritos, three games of Scrabble and two packs of cigarettes. Asked why he was waiting in line, he responded simply, "Chicks dig the iPhone."

Tom Wilson of Gainesville joined the line at the Jesse Jewell Parkway store at about 7:40 a.m. and was waiting in line for his iPhone. Wilson, who works for the University of Georgia, said he was most excited about the Web browser on the phone. "I see it as an ultra-portable laptop, instead of just a phone."

Wilson had passed on the first iPhones introduced last year.

"I’ve been waiting for the iPhone for over a year," he said. "When the first one came out, I decided to wait for the second generation which I thought would be faster and have some of the bugs worked out. I couldn’t wait any longer."

But it appears that not all of the bugs have been worked out. Software problems later in the day meant customers were unable to get their phones working.

A spokesman for AT&T, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the U.S., said there was a global problem with Apple’s iTunes servers that prevented the phones from being fully activated in-store, as had been planned. Buyers were told to go home and perform the last step by connecting their phones to their own computers, spokesman Michael Coe said. However, the iTunes servers were equally hard to reach from home, leaving the phones unusable except for emergency calls.

The problem extended to owners of the previous iPhone model. A software update released for that phone on Friday morning required the phone to be reactivated through iTunes.

Apple shares fell $4.05, or 2.3 percent, to close Friday at $172.58 amid a general decline in U.S. stocks.

The new phone went on sale Friday in 22 countries. In most of them, it was the first time any iPhone was officially sold there, though several countries have seen a brisk grey-market trade in phones imported from the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.




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