One of the first things that gave me joy about iPhone 1.0 was the purchase, activation and setup experience.
If you’ve ever bought a cell phone, you’ve probably experienced pain going through all the many confusing options (in store or over the phone) for plans, dealing with upselling for warranties and accessories, answering all the questions and waiting for computer problems, credit checks, etc. Then onto quirks activating and setting up. Nothing about the process seems considerate of the customer, their time and frustration. Before iPhone 1.0, this was true across all the carriers and handsets out there.
iPhone 1.0 and AT&T changed all that, simplifying plans and choices, allowing you to purchase a phone with a credit card in seconds (like buying groceries), and providing for activation at your home computer with just a few simple questions.
I’d often evangelized this part of the experience as setting iPhone apart, as a brilliant move by Apple, and as something that would hopefully have an impact on the industry as a whole.
Unfortunately, it seems that in solving a business problem, AT&T and Apple have dropped that focus on the customer and their experience and taken us back to the days before iPhone 1.0. I can only hope that they will consider this a mistake, learn from it, and find a way to put the experience first again while addressing the business problems. They still have it in them to change the industry.
I’d love to hear from Apple or AT&T how they went about deciding this way to do things, retreating so far from the brave stand they took with 1.0.