With several AT&T and Apple stores within a short drive of where I live, I had to take a stab at which place was most likely to bear fruit -- and how early I needed to arrive. I picked an AT&T store -- and showed up around 6:15 a.m. There were already 35 people in front of me.
AT&T reps were very friendly and kept coming out to offer us water and candy. At about 7:15, they informed us that they only had 50 iPhones to sell (15 Black 16GB, 15 white 16GB and 20 8GB models). As I wanted a 16GB black model, I calculated my chances of getting one at about 50% at best (I was assuming that most of the early arrivals in the line would go for the 16GB). Meanwhile, there were now over 200 people in line, so many of them would leave with no iPhone at all. The AT&T rep said you could get a sort of rain-check, but no one was looking forward to that.
Immediately after the store opened and those first in line were ushered in, the pace of the line slowed to a near halt. Those of us still waiting were told that the in-store activations were not working and that we would have to activate our iPhone's at home via iTunes (despite Apple's prior claims that you would not be able to do this). I thought this might have have speeded up the process, not slowed it down. However, we were also informed that the computers were running slow and (drum roll) the computers were charging customers the wrong prices. Fixing the pricing error was taking a good deal of time; hence the slow-down.
By about 9:15, I made it into the store and nabbed the next-to-last 16GB black phone. By the time I left, they were sold out of all iPhones. According to the reps, more might not arrive until next Friday.
With my iPhone in hand, I went home to activate it. No such luck. After spending about five minutes trying to access the store, all I got was an unknown error (-4) and a suggestion that I try again later.
And so here I sit for now. You would think that after having lived through the previous iPhone launch, and having weeks to prepare (if not months), Apple and AT&T could have avoided these screw-ups. Apparently not.
While on iTunes, I checked to see if my old iPhone or my iPod touch could be updated to the 2.0 software yet. No luck here either. iTunes continues to report that my devices are up-to-date with the 1.1.4 version. Hopefully, that will change soon.
Anyway, after I get my iPhone 3G up and running, I'll return here with more info.
Update #1 [10:55 a.m.]:
• The 3G comes with a new, significantly smaller, power adapter. That's an improvement I guess. However, it no longer has a detachable or retractable plug. I especially liked being able to put the metal prongs out of harm's way. On balance, I prefer the old style adapter, which happily still works with my new iPhone.
• After upgrading to the 3G, I will be giving my original iPhone to my wife (who currently is using a Motorola phone). The AT&T rep told me that this required a new SIM card, as neither her old card nor the card currently in my iPhone would work. They gave me the new needed card. A word to the wise: If you are in a similar situation, be sure to clearly explain it to the rep, so as to make sure you get the new card before you leave!
It also appears that there is no direct way to transfer the address book from my wife's old phone to the iPhone. Fortunately, most of the needed addresses are already on her Mac. Looks like this will be a minor hassle at worst.
Update #2 [11:35 a.m.]
The iPhone 2.0 software for upgrading original iPhones and iPod touches is out (or at least it was out). However, because of the ongoing mess with Apple's servers (the same mess that is blocking activation of my iPhone 3G), you're better off waiting for the mess to be fixed before attempting an update (as noted in this AppleInsider story).
Note to readers: In all of the activity and confusion of the day, I inadvertently deleted the reader comments to several recent blog entries. There is no way to retrieve them. If your comment was one that was deleted, I apologize.