iPhone queues: are they shrinking? or is there really a shortage?

by Guy J Kewney | posted on 30 June 2007

How big are the queues for the iPhone? It's worth checking out some of the new owner comments piling up. Not all of them had to wait long in line. Those who did buy a phone are mostly enthusiastic but, again, not all.

Example: in response to an Engadget report on the early reports from users, one customer admitted that he'd had no trouble picking one up Friday night:

I was kind of on the fence about getting one (No A2DP, 3rd party apps, blah blah blah... when I strolled past the Apple store at 7:30 and they still had a stack I went ahead and took the plunge. I figured at worst, I could hold it for a couple of days, hear some new "real world" reviews, and then decide.

Steve Jobs has warned that "the iPhone supply may not meet demand,"  but this is starting to be seen as marketing hype, rather than a serious warning that Apple didn't build enough. Computerworld said:

"We had to make our best guess as to what the demand was going to be and what supply we were going to put in place many, many months ago. We built factories to build these things and everything. We've taken our best guess but it wouldn't surprise me at all if it ain't enough," Jobs told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

Impressed? some were - but not CNet's Tom Krazit and Erica Ogg who rather mocked those who queued up:

Any concerns about supply, at least at Apple stores, were moot, and standing in line for a day or more proved as necessary as snow tires in Miami. Ninety minutes after Apple started ringing up sales of the iPhone at its 24-hour flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York, anyone could just walk into the store and pick up a device with a minimal wait. In San Francisco, security guards put away the ropes marking the iPhone line at 7:09 p.m. and starting letting in anyone off the street.

But while the excitement is high, warnings are being published. If it was once impossible to criticise anything Steve Jobs did, the Mercury News staff no longer feel daunted, and are suggesting holding off buying. Writer Troy Wolverton said:

For those of you who can bear to do so, you probably should wait until Apple gets all the kinks worked out (and hopefully lowers the price).

And then he lays into the slow communications:

But for the most part, that remains just a good idea rather than a reality with the iPhone.

The device's worst flaw is the wireless network it runs on. Apple chose to partner with AT&T, but in order to save space inside the phone and conserve battery life, the company chose to have the iPhone work with AT&T's older EDGE network, instead of its newer, faster 3G Mobile Broadband one.

I understand the reasoning, but it doesn't make waiting to pull up Web pages any more bearable. Even simple ones with minimal graphics can take minutes to download.

And it's not just Web pages that are slow. Prepare to wait for e-mail message coded in HTML or ones that have attachments. Even trying to pull up a stock chart using one of the iPhone's included programs can make you feel like you are waiting for paint to dry.NewsWireless is also receiving complaints from users who have already bought their iPhone, saying that if the thing is slow to browse, they can't tell - because AT&T has screwed up the log-in process.

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