Apple hits activation snags with some new iPhones

A customer leaves an Apple Store with his new iPhone 3G in New York July 11, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Many eager U.S. buyers of Apple Inc’s new iPhone left stores on Friday frustrated because their new gadgets did not work due to problems activating service.

A spokesman for AT&T Inc, the sole U.S. carrier for the iPhone, blamed problems synchronizing the phone with Apple’s iTunes online music and software store. Apple representatives had no immediate comment.

“It’s pretty lousy. It was not a very Apple-like experience,” said Frank Beacham, a 60-year-old writer who was left with what was essentially a useless phone after he had waited an hour inside a Manhattan Apple store after having been in line for four hours outside.

AT&T spokesman Michael Coe said Apple was working to resolve the problem but declined to give a timeframe.

“That’s a good question for Apple,” Coe said.

Earlier in the day, many customers had left New York stores pleased that it had taken only 15 minutes to activate their new iPhones, which combines a music and video player, cellphone and Web browser.

But by mid-afternoon, many were annoyed.

“My phone’s not working. So now my old phone doesn’t work and my new phone doesn’t work. I’m going to have to find a pay phone. Do they still make pay phones?” said Deena Hadi, 23, a marketing analyst in New York.

Reporting by Ritsuko Ando and Christine Kearney in New York, with additional reporting by Duncan Martell in San Francisco and Eric Auchard in Palo Alto; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Gerald E. McCormick