The only thing slower than the AT&T EDGE network is…

After hanging out with about 300 fun folks at the Green Hills Apple Store, I thought I’d head across the street to the AT&T Store in Green Hills where only about 30 people were line — at the time. Mistake. By 6:45 only four people had actually made it out of the store with phones. Rather than merely selling phones, the AT&T Store was running credit checks on non-AT&T customers. They were handling things with all of the efficiency of a cell-phone store. A quick back-of-the-envelop calculation led me to believe I’d be there for another ten hours — so I’ve punted. I’ll order an iPhone online later tonight. It will get here when it gets here. What was I thinking? It’s the phone company.

As I noted during Steve Jobs’ Macworld announcement of the iPhone, the Cingular/AT&T president, Stan Sigman, came on stage and proceeded to spurt out business buzzwords written on 4 x5 cards — the worst canned speech of all time. Jobs responded, “We come from different worlds.”

Having just seen the difference in how iPhones were flying out of an Apple Store and being slowly “processed” at an AT&T Store, I think there are going to be some culture-clashing in the coming months.

Update: I was not the only one who had the ATT Store vs. Apple Store experience. Here’s a quote from author/entrpreneur Steven Johnson: “Tried to be clever and buy at the downtown Brooklyn AT&T store, which was a nightmare and limited me to only one phone. Came home and my wife was so irritated at my having the only iPhone in the house that I got back into a cab and went into Soho at about 10:30, where I bought a second phone at the Apple Store in maybe 45 seconds.”