Apple to offer concierge service and nearly instant iPhone gratification

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Apple announced that its retail stores are the perfect place to get your iPhone 3G. Starting at 8am Friday morning, Apple’s first class concierge service will include people in orange shirts directing you to the iPhone corral; set up assistants who will ask for your government issued ID and social security number; and activation within 10 to 15 minutes, promise. The company is requiring that users sign up for service at the time of purchase, hence the ID and SS#, but they will help you choose one of AT&T’s iPhone only plans and make sure the handset can make calls and browse the Web before you leave the store.

Along with the retail announcement, Apple’s Retail Chief Ron Johnson told Bloomberg in an interview that the company expects “that in 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll be set up and ready to go.” Johnson also said he expects each of the company’s 185 retail stores in the U.S. to handle about 100 customers an hour. Though he assured users won’t feel rushed: “we’ll spend as long as it takes with our customers to make sure they’re happy with the phone.”

Again maybe Apple and AT&T are learning from past mistakes, last year’s iPhone release caused mayhem for some users who after rushing out to buy the brand new handset found they couldn’t complete activating it due to backups at AT&T.

Of course Apple isn’t promising it’ll only take 10 to 15 minutes for you to get an iPhone, the company’s site advises customer to “arrive early to get in line as daily quantities are limited by stock on hand.” Though hopeful shoppers can check the next day’s availability reports after 9:00 p.m. on Apple’s Web site.