Facts about the launch have been spread across a good dozen threads. This isn't very convenient for easy look up, so I've tapped out virtually all the facts I know and do not know as of right now. Feel free to ask questions, as I'm here to provide information. Updates and edits are highlighted in italics and blue.
iPhone will require a 2 year commitment. This is for both voice and data. You can pick the voice plan, but the data plan is required. This isn't going to be "I'll try it out until the rebate gets back," the device needs it. If you don't have these features on account, the phone won't even fully power on. Your account must be provisioned with these features, or popping your SIM into the tray on top of the phone will not work. Why? Several phone functions will be deeply integrated with the internet and data services. The visual voice mail is one of them. This means you cannot just buy it to use as a widescreen iPod, or just use the wifi connection.
For those not familiar with how AT&T handles data, a data plan is similar to a text messaging package, but gives you either a bucket of data to use or unlimited data access. It's a monthly charge in addition to your voice services, and you wouldn't want it if you don't want to pay for it. For most devices this isn't a problem, but the iPhone is a revolution, as we all know, and part of that revolution requires an always on data link. Thus you need the data services on your line.
Activation: Where and how
Second is where and how you activate it. You'll have 3 options. 1) In a AT&T corp. store, and activation will be almost standard. 2) Online, you click and buy, and they ship it (see note below). Activation can be handled either over the phone, or in a store. Again, same as today. Devices bought in Apple stores will be activated by customer service over the phone.
The iPhone will not be able to be ordered over the phone or from att.com for at least 30 days after launch. All devices from launch day to Day 31 will be sold and activated in-store, or from Apple.com.
The number delivered to AT&T stores will vary from 12 (if any) to 36. Most phones will arrive on the 28th, but reps may not be allowed to tell you if they're stocked for the 29th. Waiting lists are strictly prohibited, any rep saying he'll hold one is either lying or risking his job. It is first come, first serve.
Apple and AT&T will be the only providers of iPhones in the world at launch. Because you will be required to sign a contract and have a feature on your account, purchasing an iPhone from alternative sources like eBay will be neither cheaper or easier. This is because any iPhone on the site had to have been purchased with a contract, the contract then had to be terminated. Throw in activation fees, an eBay phone will be over $200 more than retail and you'll still need the data for it to work.
Those wishing to use the iPhone with other carriers will not have a fully functional iPhone in most cases. First, the phone must be unlocked, which it will not be out of the box. Second, iPhone requires a specialized Apple server for some features. This is exactly how Blackberry and the Sidekick are set up. You can unlock both Blackberries and Sidekicks, but unless the carrier you're using them on has the server too (not a problem for BB's, but since the SD is T-Mo exclusive, it's a T-Mo exclusive) it will not fully work. Basic stuff like calling and SMS should work fine, however visual voice mail and data features are not likely to work correctly if at all.
Eligibility: The Can Haves and Have-Nots
Third, who can and cannot have the iPhone. Good news is that almost anyone can use it. Unfortunately, people on corporate accounts (accounts actually in the name of a large enterprise, also know as CRU accounts) cannot have the iPhone. This is due to contract issues, these lines don't have contracts on them individually, instead the entire collection of lines has one contract. People working for a corporation may purchase the iPhone if they sign up for a personal line. These are called IRU's and retain the same discount as a work line. Those looking for their job to pay for their new toy should look into submitting their bill to accounting every month for payment. AT&T doesn't really care about who is paying the bill, only that it is paid, and it's paid for the full 2 years.
Small businesss owners which have lines under the businesss name and Tax ID do not (generally) have CRU's. CRU's are only for very large corporations (e.g. Motorola) that have a large number of wireless lines that are all managed under one agreement and contract. Basically, if you have to sign a new 2 year agreement for each line (like a consumer) you can get and use this device.
Non AT&T subscribers can get a iPhone with a 2 year agreement, but there is no discount. It's $500, $600, or the door. Current subscribers that are out of contract have the same option.Customers currently in contract (based on current consensus) will be able to purchase the iPhone with a contract extension and data subscription. You may or may not be asked for an upgrade processing fee.
Current AT&T employees will not be able to get the iPhone until 2 weeks have passed since launch. As employees, you should know this, as it's the same policy that's enforced with all handset launches. Once the 2 weeks are up, you will NOT receive the standard employee discount of 30% off retail price. It will be full price.
Current AT&T subscribers still using legacy former AT&T Wireless equipment and plans will be required to pick a new plan, just as if they wanted any new phone. This is due to the fact that the old AT&T used a different billing system that cannot be integrated with the Cingular/new AT&T system. Current Cingular subscribers will not need to change their voice plan, even though we're AT&T, we're using the same systems as before so we don't need to migrate anyone.VS
The iPhone will ship with full POP3 and IMAP functionality. Several email sites have been mentioned specifically, including gmail. It will not be, at least at first, capable of enterprise email. No Goodlink or Exchange for you, then again, if you're using either you probably have an CRU and are thusly disqualified in the first place.
Those dreading EDGE will be happy to know that AT&T is right now busy upgrading the EDGE network to double the current speeds. While remote access to iTunes is not currently planned, you will have the ability to check your AT&T account remotely.
The touchscreen technology is based on electrical capacitance, basically how your fingers have a static charge to them and it is this charge that actually interacts with the screen. Wearing gloves will disable your ability to interact with the device.
Apps and Widgets
3rd party apps will be available in due course, but because 3rd party apps were discussed so late in the development, there will be a multi-month delay in new apps. Several widgets will be included at launch with more available as time goes on. These will probably have to be certified by Apple, prior to being put on the site.
Items for follow up, or alternatively titled:)Data plan pricing. This will come out very soon.
s### I don't know yet.
s### I don't know yet.
)Waiving of activation or upgrade fees under certain circumstances.
)iChat will also not be available at launch, so IM service is in the air.