AT&T and apple have inplimented the activation at home process on the iPhone 3G that the old iPhone had.
You no longer need to go to a Apple or AT&T store to activate your iPhone. It was found out when an option appeared on the AT&T website to buy the iPhone 3G online. Here is a dialogue between ‘Mason’ who contacted a AT&T sales specialist for conformation.
jon: Hello, if I purchase the iPhone online now, will I have to take it to an ATT store for activation?
Kayla M.: Great question! I would be happy to help you with that today!
Kayla M.: No, you will be able to activate the phone yourself by placing the battery into the phone.
jon: that is a change correct? previously it wasn’t available online.
Kayla M.: Yes, that is correct. It just became available online today.
jon: wow, great. thanks. that is all i needed to know
Kayla M.: You’re welcome. Thank you for choosing AT&T. Have a great day!
jon: you too.
By the way, yes the AT&T person did just say to active insert the battery into the iPhone. This is obviously not true but even so, this dialogue does prove that the activation is true.