Apple & AT&T Victims of Own Success with iPhone 4S Activation Failures

UPS dropped off my iPhone 4s this morning and I tried to wirelessly activate it (which is nice, as you used to have to hook it up to a computer running iTunes). After three attempts activation failed. I searched Twitter, and guess what? Many people experienced the same thing. Sadly, the vaunted “Apple Out of Box Experience” looks a little less shiny today for me. I’ve purchased many iPhones, iPods, two iPads and two MacBooks and each time the out of box experience whipped the competition. Their products perform great almost immediately.

Today, they left me waiting. And GottaBeMobile editor Tobias Buckell reports he’s been trying since 9:30AM to get his phone to activate via AT&T with no luck, so I’m not alone in my frustration.

iPhone Activation Failed

Here's the screen you get if your activation fails

I know. Be patient! A lot of people bought an iPhone 4S. Many are trying to get their’s activated at home or in a store today. It’s just too bad that Apple and AT&T couldn’t prepare for this and make it a much better experience. Fortunately for them the early adopters are the hard-core buyers who will likely keep buying their products. But each time their servers struggle I get slightly less confident in this product. After all they touted the cloud as one of the primary new features that makes this phone a big upgrade over the iPhone 4S. Apple and the wireless carriers went down on the first day of preorders. Apple struggled under the load of iOS 5 updating, along with all the various other updates that came along for the ride. Now AT&T struggles to even activate your phone to make it useful.

The good news – patience wins and you will be activated eventually. Just keep trying and you will get through. As I said it took me three tries. How many did it take for you?


Under normal circumstances, this wireless process will provide a better experience for users. If you don’t buy your phone and receive it the same day that millions of others do, you should enjoy a much better activation experience than I did (or than buyers used to enjoy when it required hooking up to a computer to get online, which also used to have server issues in the past).