The confirmation that the iPhone will only be activated in AT&T stores is a sign that a definite concession that was made to get the price cut made. I enjoyed activating my phone from the comfort of my home — it was nice. So, it does reduce the user experience which they’re always going on about.
But, that’s a one-time deal, and it’s not an outrageous expectation of the customers. No one buys a phone because they like the activation process, and it’s not a bolt out of the blue to activate in-store.
Plus, for the long-term, it gets more of the iPhones out to market, while still ensuring a profit in the short-term, and thus continuing to establish Apple as a leading player. Portable computing is obviously where we’re headed, and Apple wants to use its current goodwill to put them in front of the upcoming wave. Overall, it’s a good move for them.
I think the lesson to take away from this is that while short-term luxuries are nice, don’t let that which is not needed prevent you from making a good long-term move.