This screen was the bane of my existence as I waited to activate the iPhone this weekend—a period of time in which I experienced the limitations of Apple's partnership with AT&T first hand. Yes, I bagged an iPhone with minimal wait time on Friday, but I didn't start using it until Sunday afternoon.
Let's face it: calling your wireless provider for any reason is never, ever enjoyably. Now imagine that calling your wireless provider (multiple times, to be exact), simultaneously with 500,000 other new iPhone users, is the only way to transform your $600 purchase into a functioning device, not just the hottest 911 emergency phone in existence.
Turns out, my old-style AT&T rate plan (yes, I was with AT&T before they were Cingular, and now they're back) was incompatible with the iPhone's $20 data plan add-on for existing customers. And on top of that, a corporate discount on my account was tripping things up further. These hangups took 24 hours for the AT&T system to sort out, apparently—after starting the activation Friday night, it took until Saturday night for the email to come directing me to call AT&T customer care.
After being passed around to too many different departments and call reps to count for the problem's diagnosis (and who knows how much time spent on hold), on Sunday I was finally directed to a number specifically for handling iPhone activations( 877-800-3701 if you're still waiting, good luck). The rep there was able to activate the phone manually.
So, first iPhone lesson learned: for several core tasks, it's only as good as its carrier network. Granted, the onslaught AT&T was subjected to this weekend was unlike anything they have ever seen, but gee, didn't they know that was going to be case? —John Mahoney