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Apple, AT&T speed up iPhone 3G buying over Web

The ability to shave a few minutes off the in-store visit that's still required to buy an iPhone 3G should make Apple and AT&T's customers a little happier.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
Apple and AT&T have figured out a way to shave a few minutes off the iPhone 3G purchasing experience. James Martin/CNET News

Apple has figured out a way to let prospective iPhone 3G buyers get a few of the steps out of the way at home.

The activation process is still not quite as smooth as the one that greeted new owners of the original iPhone, but Apple and AT&T seem to have figured out a way to make things a little easier while keeping the unlockers at bay as much as possible. A visit to an Apple or AT&T store is still required, but some of the preliminary details can now be completed via the Internet.

For instance, you can enter your billing information to generate the credit check required for a new contract, pick a rate plan, and make an appointment to pick up an iPhone 3G. The phone still needs to be activated in the store, which is Apple and AT&T's way of trying to deter those who wish to unlock the phone and resell it for a profit.

This may not apply to everyone, such as those who have business accounts or other special discounts, but should streamline the process a bit for everyone else. Piper Jaffray thinks Apple will have sold 5 million iPhone 3Gs in the current quarter, and this process could make it a little easier for holiday shoppers toward the end of the year.