UPDATE: AT&T denies it has activation problems. A spokesperson just sent us the following statement:
We had our most successful iPhone launch with more than 200,000 preorders placed in the first 12 hours last week. As customers are receiving their devices – and more are buying in our stores – we’re seeing completed activations across our servers and are moving requests through as quickly as possible. We’re not seeing any widespread delays at this time, though customers may experience minor wait times as more devices are activated.
AT&T’s activation servers have melted down, according to a tip we just got from an Apple store employee.
Launch day for the iPhone 4S hasn’t gone without some glitches. Reports are pouring in about activation problems that have been ongoing practically all day. So the question is who is to blame? It looks like the blame is squarely on AT&T again due to Apple’s systems being unable to communicate with their databases. If you’ve been fortunate enough to get your new iPhone 4S activated today you are lucky and the rest of you that haven’t probably should wait until Apple and AT&T get their act together.
The ongoing activation problems are showing up when iOS 5 is used to activate directly from a device and sometimes in iTunes. Either iOS 5 or iTunes advises the user that their activation is “pending” or “unavailable”. The activations are being queued up, when marked “pending” and a notification email will be sent once the activation is completed by AT&T.
On the other hand if you get an “unavailable” message you might be out of luck. Since we have a confirmed report from an Apple Store retail employee that the unavailable activation messages are a result of the system’s inability to process any activations. Users are advised to try again later. According to the employee:
Just before 12:30 EDT, the network went down apparently in all Apple stores so transactions could not be completed. I waited 45 minutes and when my customer gave up and left, my shift was over so I left. I went to pick up the 3 iPhones that were delivered to me today. I got home but ran into problems activating my first phone. I called ATT and they transferred me to Apple. AppleCare reports their activation system is down, they are working on it but do not know when it will be up.
This is reminiscent of problems AT&T had a few years ago in 2009 where problems were so bad for the iPhone 3GS that activation took up to 48 hours to complete.