AT&T and Apple are bringing in-home activation for the iPhone 3G, making the popular handset easier to get without having to go to the store.
The first-generation iPhone could be purchased in a store or online and the user could active the phone at home through iTunes. The original version was sold unsubsidized, and many users would end up unlocking the touch-screen smartphone.
Additionally, AT&T and Apple had a monthly revenue-sharing deal for the original iPhone, which is an uncommon practice in the mobile industry. For the iPhone 3G, AT&T decided it would drop the revenue sharing, and resell the handset to customers at a subsidy.
But providing the subsidy meant customers had to be activated at the time of purchase, and this led to long lines, delays, and Apple's servers being overwhelmed when the iPhone 3G debuted. Launch day was further complicated because first-generation iPhone users were trying to update their firmware, and Apple simultaneously rolled out the App Store and MobileMe.
Customers can now buy the iPhone 3G online, have it shipped to their home or office, and plug it into iTunes to activate the service. The service is available for new customers, and current AT&T customers who wish to add a line. Current subscribers who want to upgrade their handset still need to go to a store though, and users who don't activate within a certain timeframe will be subject to an early termination fee.
The multimedia smartphone has sold extremely well since its launch, and Apple continues to make it more accessible. While the original iPhone was only sold at Apple and AT&T retail stores, the 3G model can be found in thousands of Best Buy stores, and will soon find its way into Wal-Mart.