How carriers will fare on iPhone launch day

Stephen Miles
18 Sep 2013

Christmas is coming early – September 20th, to be exact – for wireless carriers around the globe. That’s the day Apple’s two new iPhones will go on sale.

Apple last week introduced its new flagship iPhone 5S and lower-priced, plastic-shelled iPhone 5C. If history is an indicator, there will be a lot of consumers running out to buy the new devices – the iPhone 5 sold 74.6 million units in the second half of last year.

Yes, the initial reaction to Apple’s news seems to be a bit more muted than previous announcements, but I think there will still be rush of folks looking to refresh older phones (iPhone 4S and older) as well as new Apple customers drawn in by the lower cost iPhone 5C and its candy color options.

When the first iPhones went on sale back in 2007, there was only one operator in the US that carried them. You wanted an iPhone, you had to go that carrier. While I am sure they cared about the customer experience and wanted to make getting the hot new iPhone as painless as possible, they didn’t have the pressure of anyone going to the competition over a bad experience. They didn’t even have to worry about flack on social media either back then. I even dropped the carrier I was on at the time – which has better reception in my neck of New Hampshire – to get the iPhone.

Today, though, multiple carriers offer the iPhone, so it’s even more important for them to offer a seamless experience to those rushing out to get the new device. They don’t want to alienate customers and suffer brand damage when disgruntled users take to Twitter, Facebook and other outlets to vent. That’s where a robust application performance management system comes into play: To help mitigate performance problems and deliver a great end-user experience.

iPhone activations don't just involve carrier systems, there’s also integration to Apple’s network. System operators at the individual operators need to have visibility into the entire transaction to be able to determine if a) a problem exists in their network and fix it quickly, or b) if the problem is somewhere in Apple’s network. They also have to ensure point of sale systems, both online and in-store, can handle the rush of people looking to be one of the first with the new devices. Hopefully problems don’t exist in any pieces of the puzzle, but it’s always good to have deep understanding of performance at all tiers.

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