iPhone 3G S launches with another round of delays

Chicago (IL) – Buying a new iPhone on launch day often requires patience. With the first two generations, we learned that you will have to consider waiting in line and expect activation delays. Apple and AT&T appeared you have handled today’s launch of the iPhone 3G S much better, but some users were told that may have to wait up to 48 hours until the shiny new phone will actually work.

The iPhone 3G S became available at more than 2200 AT&T stores and 211 Apple stores in the U.S. today. Pre-also started shipping, the carrier said. If we believe media reports and initial media feedback, demand was brisk, even if Apple is not expected to match the 1 million unit number of the iPhone 3G for the first weekend, simply because the device is not available in as many countries as the 3G model was. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster was first with a sales forecast, predicting that Apple would sell 500,000 new iPhone 3G S units. AT&T said that it has pre-sold “hundreds of thousands” of new iPhones.

The iPhone 3G S is available in two versions, a 16 GB model for $199 (if tied to a 2-year contract) and a $299 version with 32 GB of memory. Without contract subsidy, the phones sell for $599 and $699. The regular iPhone 3G with 8 GB memory now sells for $99.

The iPhone 3G S convinced many consumers yet again to wait in line, even if there were reports that the device actually sold out in certain locations. Users shopping at Apple stores as well as key AT&T locations reported significant lines, but if we believe published reports, the lines were moving faster than it was the case with the first two iPhone generations. Once again, there was enough demand to overwhelm Apple’s and AT&Ts registration servers.

Reports about activation delays, in which users were told that they may have to wait up to 48 hours for a working phone due to the high volume of phone registrations spread quickly. Apple apologized through the iTunes interface and told users that, until AT&T has connected the phone, they should simply use all the other functions of the new phone.

In related news, AT&T has addressed rumors that suggested that the company will surcharge its users $55 to activate iPhone tethering. In a Facebook post, the company said “There are a lot of reports out there, but wanted you guys to know that rumors of $55 tethering plan on top of an unlimited data plan are false. We’ll have more news to share when the iPhone tethering option is closer to launch.”