SAN FRANCISCO – While many who snapped up Apple Inc.'s iPhone were using the latest must-have gadget even before leaving the store, some buyers were put on hold as they experienced frustrating delays in activating their cell phone service.
"A vast majority" of customers were up and running within minutes, said Michael Coe, a spokesman for AT&T Inc., the phone's exclusive carrier. But he acknowledged Saturday that some were facing delays because the high volume of activation requests were taxing the company's computer servers.
Tim Johnson of Collegeville, Penn., found himself still staring at a crippled — albeit sleek and sexy — gadget on Saturday afternoon, more than 18 hours after he had waited in line to buy the device.
"It looks cool, but I can't do anything with it," he said. "I'm angry and frustrated and feel like I wasted my time standing in line."
Coe wouldn't say how many customers were affected, or how long some of them would have to wait. The company was working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, he said.
Jennifer Bowcock, an Apple spokeswoman, said Apple was also working to minimize the problem for its customers.
The sleek, touch-screen cell phone that triples as an iPod media player and a wireless Web device went on sale at Apple and AT&T stores Friday evening after months of breathless hype and anticipation.
Apple has not disclosed how many were available at launch, but thousands were sold across the nation to eager customers who camped out in front of stores for as long as four days.
A feature that allows customers to activate their iPhone's cell phone service by logging onto Apple's iTunes software from their computers led many buyers to head straight home to christen the device. Some even logged on from their laptops outside the stores Friday and quickly started using the phone, saying the activation process took only minutes.
"It's amazing and it was so easy to set up," said Liz Cecchini of San Antonio, Texas. She and her husband lined up a day before the launch, enduring pouring rain to buy four — one each for themselves, their 15-year-old daughter and a friend.
But untold others were stalled Friday when they received a computer message saying the process "will take some additional time."
Bowcock would not disclose whether Apple stores were already running out of stock Saturday. The company's flagship store in San Francisco had sold out of the 8-gigabyte $599 model by Saturday but still had $499 4-gigabyte versions available.
Most AT&T stores had sold out of iPhones Friday night, but the company was still taking orders from customers to have the product shipped to them once more arrived, Coe said.
As of 4:45 p.m. EDT Saturday, eBay Inc. said about 745 out of 8,000 iPhone offerings had been sold on the online auction site at an average price of $962.