iPhone hopefuls find kinks

Jul 102007
Authors: Mike Donovan

Apple’s long-awaited iPhone, which hit shelves June 29, has already made its impact known in Colorado with almost every store having sold its first shipment. But some students are finding it’s not so easy to join in the craze over the new gadget.

At least one CSU student found a major problem when trying to activate an iPhone. Sam Gonzalez, a sophomore art major, was excited to purchase the iPhone, but when he went home to activate his service online, he was denied and told to go to a local AT&T store.

On arrival, Gonzalez was told due to his lack of credit history, he would be forced to pay a $500 deposit to AT&T, in addition to the $499 already paid for the phone. Gonzalez decided not to activate and returned his phone.

“I think its ridiculous that a $500 deposit is required for the right to pay them,” Gonzalez said.

Vanessa Smith, a spokesperson for AT&T, says it is common practice to run credit checks on all phones, and not just iPhones.

Gonzalez believes he is not the only one dealing with the problem.

“I’m sure the majority of college students are in the same boat with little credit history,” Gonzalez said.

But for some college students – namely students at the University of Wyoming – getting an iPhone is simply out of reach. The iPhone is not available in Wyoming because the iPhone’s lone service provider, AT&T, does not have any service stores in Wyoming.

Wyoming may eventually be able to have iPhones, Smith said.

“No decisions have been made, but we would seek roaming agreements with other carriers,” she said.

In addition to the standard phone features that the iPhone users, the phone also comes complete with internet access, a camera, a video and multimedia player and a music player similar to the iPod. Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs has said that Apple filed more than 200 patents stemming from the iPhone’s contents.

Despite this technological breakthrough, Patrick Burns, vice president of Information Technologies at CSU, says he isn’t ready to call the iPhone the next big thing in wireless.

“I think it is still to be determined whether it will be successful, the jury’s still out. It certainly is a neat evolution,” Burns said. “The iPod has stuck, it will be interesting to see which new phones are going to stick.”

According to Burns, there are three major problems in PDA’s that were not solved by the iPhone. The phone’s lack of anti-spam and anti-viral software; the inability to have encryption on the phone’s memory cards; and flaws in the iPhone’s connectability with VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, make the iPhone far from perfect.

Burns believes these problems will need to be fixed in future versions to see an iPod-like phenomenon.

“The question is: Are they going to evolve to real computing with editing, designing, and text software, in addition to anti-span, anti-virus capabilities?” Burns said.

Despite these potential setbacks, Smith says the iPhone has been very popular.

“We’re very pleased with sales, almost all of stores nationwide have sold out,” Smith said. “Across the board, it is a product that is in high demand.”

AT&T stores receive multiple shipments a week and AT&T representatives can help customers locate the nearest stocked store if they are out-of-stock.

As of Tuesday afternoon, iPhones on ebay were selling for anywhere between $600 and $700. The retail price of the iPhone is $499 for the four-gigabyte version and $599 for the eight-gigabyte version. Monthly fees on the iPhone range from $59.99 to $99.99.

As far as future technologies go, Burns is sure that there will always be a market for new gadgets and another chance for CSU students to rush stores.

“There is always a demand when people have money and like toys,” he said.

Staff writer Mike Donovan can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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