iPhone Activated. First Impressions.

by Aaron Huslage

After some amount of pain I got my iPhone activated by a kind group of folks at AT&T who were assigned to "fix problems that people on the Internet were having". A kind man named Thomas helped me through the process of converting my account from corporate to individual, getting a refund of a deposit and making things generally more smooth than anyone else at AT&T had even attempted to do. He got the right people on the phone, stayed with me for over an hour while we were both on hold with at least 3 other departments and was a generally nice fellow. The level of customer service to whiny bloggers seems to be higher than that of the general customer. This is absurd, but it is the state of the mobile industry as a whole.

When you reach close to 80% market penetration, it's apparently difficult to justify hiring highly qualified individuals to help customers with their problems. This is a point of differentiation that I can't see any of the US mobile carriers taking advantage of. It is a serious market opportunity that I suspect would pay good dividends if ever executed upon properly. After seeing multiple calls for class action lawsuits from disgruntled AT&T customers, I'm pondering whether or not it will take such a thing to be treated as a human again by mobile companies (IANAL, I have no idea how that would work or what you would sue for). I hope I can get some responses from my emails to the US providers about the state of their customer services. I look forward to doing a future article on this subject.

Now. To the toy. By now everyone has seen the numerous reviews of the device, so I'll spare you another one. There are a couple of posts that piqued my interest over the past few days. My colleague over at O'Reilly Radar Marc Hedlund had some great criticism of the iPhone. While I disagree on some points (namely the one claiming AT&T is "on it"), I think his summary is fairly good. Also of interest is my friend James Duncan Davidson's list of "unexpected goodies, nits, bugs and feature requests". My own personal list includes the idiotic lack of any decent Bluetooth support for syncing or file tranfer, the lack of TCP-based syncing and some bugs with the phone app. Once I get my Nokia N95 back, I'll post a feature-for-feature comparison just for fun.

There's no doubt it's a revolutionary device. I look forward to seeing what people do with it over the coming months. The hackers are already working on things and have posted various tools to activate the device, etc. This will be interesting to watch as well.