Sometimes, fate conspires to force tech geeks offline
June 15th, 2010 by scaredpoet

For the past 10 hours or so, I’ve been staring almost non stop at the above graphic.  Like countless millions of other apple geeks hoping to be among the first to own an iPhone 4, I’ve been furiously shaking my fist at this spinning graphic as AT&T’s servers crash, taking Apple’s online ordering system down with it.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t initially planning on being one of the crazies who wants the latest and greatest first.  I was perfectly happy to stick with my trusty iPhone 3GS for a little while.  That is, until I did something stupid and lost it last night, only for someone else to find it and take it home with them.

Yes, I lost my phone, and then someone stole it.  I know this for a fact.  You know how I know?  Because MobileMe has this neat feature that lets you track the location of your iPhone via GPS.  Indeed, it first showed me that my iPhone was exactly where I thought I had left it.  Then, as I sped to that location at 80MPH, I arrived only to find that it was now pinging at some dude’s house.  That is, before he completely wiped the iPhone and probably jailbroke and unlocked the poor thing.

By the way: in case you’re wondering, the police are useless. They will not, under any circumstances, go after anyone or even knock on the door where your missing property is located, even if you present them with a perfectly accurate GPS map of where that property is telling you it’s located.  All they will do is offer to file a missing property (not stolen, missing) property report, which you can either wipe your ass with, or perhaps wad up into a ball and throw at the window of the confirmed thief’s house, thus maybe startling them a little.

Of course, if I worked for Apple, I’m sure things would have been different, right?

Last night’s harrowing experience only compounds my anger and frustration with AT&T today.  Not being able to purchase a new iPhone is one thing.  But I can’t do anything with my account.  I can’t activate a new SIM to put in a dumb phone, and thus have some modicum of phone service while I wait out the mob. Nor can I suspend my service.  Right now, I can’t even log into my AT&T account to see if the thief has been calling Zimbabwe, downloading porn, or perhaps texting sweet nothings to my girlfriend without my knowledge.

This folks, is what AT&T exclusivity will get you.

I have to say, I have been a staunch defender of AT&T up to now.  The complaints and anti-AT&T negativity have been constant, though I have firmly believed that slow data issues and capcity problem would be evident on any US carrier Apple had chosen to carry the iphone.

But today’s situation is so bad that even non-iPhone customers are having to suffer, all because AT&T didn’t have sound planning and server capacity in place, or even the ability to segment some of it so that while rabid Apple fanboys were masturbating to iPhone photos, the rest of us could do things like, oh, staunch the possibility of account fraud and identity theft.

So yes, today is as good an example as any that product exclusivity is a bad thing, and competition is good.  And Verizon really, really needs to get the iPhone soon, so that at the very least, days like this are less likely to happen again.

UPDATE: In case anyone cares, after three more hours of constant retrying, I was finally able to place an order. So I’ll only go a week and a half without a mobile device. Tech withdrawal, here we come!

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