Crowds, Activation Delays at San Francisco iPhone Launch

Late Thursday, we wondered in this space whether the iPhone 3G would attract the kind of crowds drawn to last year's iPhone launch. The answer appears to be an emphatic "yes, it will"--at least when it comes to one location.

Senior news editor Jonathan Seff went out to pick up an iPhone 3G Friday morning as part of a story we're working on about the activation process. Since time was of the essence, Jon decided to skip the flagship Apple Store on Stockton Street and head to a presumably less busy Apple outlet. So it was off to the Stonestown store for our intrepid editor.

Jon arrived at the mall about half-an-hour before the 8 a.m. launch time. By his count, he was the 120th person in line, which had already gone from the Apple Store through the mall and out the front door.

As I write this, the doors have opened and Apple Store employees have begun selling the new phone to the first batch of customers. According to the chatter Jon's been hearing, the store hopes to activate 200 customers per hour. We'll check in with him later to see if they make good on that guess.

It might prove to be a challenge. Jon just IM'ed me to report that word is spreading through the line that the activation service has gone down. (The U.K. launch was marred by similar problems.) So stay tuned.

See PC World's complete iPhone coverage.

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