back to article iPhone 3G to be in 'very short supply for weeks' - carrier

O2 has blamed Apple for the "disappointing and frustrating experience" many would-be iPhone 3G owners had to put up with when the carrier began taking advance orders for the handset this week. In an email said to have been sent to one consumer who complained about the near-collapse of O2's ordering system, O2 Sales Director …


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  1. mr_greedy


    O2's website is laughably bad. Always has been.

    A buddy of mine tried getting a 3g jesus phone online yesterday. The website didn't work for him (big shock!)

    Later that day he had his credit card declined, and his bank phoned him telling him someone had ordered 2 iPhones from O2 that morning with his details.


    LOLZ. etc.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    O2's inability to run an e-commerce site is the fault of Apple's ability to produce stock? Amazing. Didn't know Apple's influence was that strong.

    Paris, coz she could prob run a more reliable e-commerce site than O2

  3. chris
    Jobs Halo

    Nada 16Giggers!

    My local O2 shop in Edinburgh confirmed that they will ONLY have the 8GB model available......shambles.

    Don't care if its Apples fault or O2's - it reflects badly on both brands.

    Interestingly as I'm a Vodafone customer, they are now dropping their pants to offer me stupiddly cheap deals with some very hot handsets.

    Stevie Jobs - Cos he'd never let this kind of thing happen...honest!

  4. Carol

    O2's blaming their incompetence on Apple.

    "We have been working continuously with them [Apple] to get as much stock for the UK as possible. Unfortunately, they have only been able to supply a small proportion of the number of phones we asked for, because they are launching simultaneously in 22 countries."

    Yet from a text I received from O2:

    10 June: "...To thank you for being an iPhone fan, we're offering you an early upgrade to the brand new version when it launches on 11th July 2008.... For now, please just register your interest *AND WE'LL RESERVE A NEW IPHONE FOR YOU.*" (emphasis mine.)

    So if they were having so much trouble getting stock after they sent that out, and after so many of us "registered our interest," why not send an update saying they weren't able to actually reserve the phones they said they would reserve?

    I doubt I was the only one who blithely went online expecting to upgrade to my *RESERVED* iPhone, despite the subsequent texts saying demand would be high. I wasn't worried about that because O2 had already *RESERVED* one for me.

    Or so I thought.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Numbers don't add up

    200000/13000 order/sec = 15.38 seconds worth of orders...

    How come it took hours for the them to be sold out ?

  6. Chris Blore

    What a joke!

    I can confirm that the email is genuine and was sent to anybody who emailed the CEO of O2, Matthew Key, including myself.

    The fact that O2 seems to be blaming Apple for the lack of supply is laughable when it was they who initiated this stupid pre-registration in the first place and were trumpeting just how much interest they had received. They can hardly say they weren't warned. What is particularly frustrating is that us mugs who shelled out £269 for our original iPhones (albeit great devices in themselves) seemed most affected by the troubles yesterday. I would hope that they will initiate some sort of queuing system so that those of us who wasted most of yesterday (and have to work on Friday like most normal people!) on their totally inadequate site will not have to do so again.

    Who am I trying to kid? They couldn't run a pi$$ up in a brewery!

  7. jai

    doesn't wash

    if they run out of stock, how come the "we've run out of stock" message didn't appear until the middle of the afternoon?

    if they sold out within a couple of hours, why is that there were so many people who were trying to get one between 8am and 10am and yet were unsuccessful?

    are they accusing Apple of (effectively prompting) a DOS attack? :)

  8. Luke Wright

    13,000 orders a second.... errmmmm...

    13,000 orders a second means

    780,000 orders a minute

    46.8 million an hour

    Taking a few hours to be 3 hours that would be

    140.4 million orders... over twice the population of the UK...

    Don't think so!!

    Working backwards from 200,000 registrations of interest...

    > they state only a fraction of that number in available units

    > assuming 10% - 20,000.

    > think they also stated they allocated 50% of available units to online orders - so 10,000

    > Over a 3 hour period that would actually equal 0.9 orders per second

    Even if all 200,000 people ordered in a 3 hour period that would only equal 18.5 orders per second...

    So what is Steve Shurrock on about?!!?

  9. Jeff

    13k per second...?

    ...and 200k orders. Did O2 only run the promotion for 15 seconds?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    13,000 orders per second???...

    "Demand was at 13,000 orders per second," said Shurrock


    200,000 declare an interest...

    13,000 orders per second...

    So I guess after the first 16 seconds of business everyone was happy and had got their shiny new toy ordered - or perhaps not.

    I wouldn't have an iPhone if you gave me one for free.

    Paris, because she knows when 200,000 declare an interest...

  11. Steve Kay

    No, Steve Shurrock

    It is not Apple's fault your web site crashed lots - it is your fault your web site crashed lots. What should have happened is that your web site needed to do some basic maths and keep a tally of orders against the number of units available. If only there was some sort of device to do counting! Where oh where could we get such a thing?

    Sure, Apple kebabbed O2 on stock, no question, if they asked for so many units and only got a small percentage of that. But O2's inability to run a web site is O2's fault.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Orders per second

    "Demand was at 13,000 orders per second,"

    "The response was so great that the online store completely sold out of iPhones within just a few hours."

    Assuming "a few hours" is somewhere more than 1 hour, o2 sold over 47 million iphones? That or someone's rather overstating how many orders they were receiving.

  13. Nosmo
    Thumb Down

    Ah right

    You tell 200,000 people the allocation process is "first come first served", and minutes later your webservers die under the load. Who would have guessed?

    How come this is Apple's fault?

    It would have been much more sensible to run an actual lottery amongst those who expressed an interest once they knew how many phones they were getting.

  14. sleepy

    13000 orders per second ...

    ... and stock ran out in the first few hours. So that makes over a hundred million iPhones sold.

    More likely 13000 total punters attempting all morning to use a web App server that reboots every 30 seconds.

  15. Simon Stahn
    Thumb Down

    O2 told me existing customers COULD buy from Apple Stores

    When I complained to O2 about their crappy web service for ordering (multiple failures of the system to complete an order; same as a lot of other people) the customer services rep told me that I could buy one from an O2 store or, failing that, from an Apple store.

    But they really didn't want to give me a PAC code so I could use carphonewarehouse to order one. It seems they have useless internal communications - no one seems to know wtf is going on over at O2.

    No suprises there...

  16. foof

    They can use Canada's allotment

    With no viable data plan and a three year contract, we won't need them!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    order fulfillment

    hmm, iPhone 1, PSP, Wii, Xbox 360s, macbook air.

    If anyone still believes that global companies cannot manufacture enough units for a global launch then you are believing the hype.

    Quite how any sane person queues for any electronic device is beyond me.

    I am giving my money for something so i'll be damned if i will be inconvenienced to do so!

    Also if you are daft enough to want a jesus phone then you deserve this run around.

    Tux cos with him jail breaking is good!!!

  18. IMVHO
    Paris Hilton

    @They can use Canada's allotment

    Luckily they shipped them with USB chargers, so they don't have to deal with the whole UK-NA wall charger bit (unconfirmed, but it sounds nice). The latest bit of whispering has Apple not selling the thing at their own stores in Canuckland. Perhaps the Canadian company in the middle, Rogers, can also loan O2 the back-end services for a few million credit card transactions, since the Rogers site won't exactly be suffering under a heavy burden of orders.

    Let this be a lesson. If you want to control demand so that it's serviceable with a given supply, charge customers an arm and a leg, and lock 'em in for three years. Ti'ts a bit like Paris making a fortune because, after-all, one can temporarily lodge oneself in only the one Paris Hilton (not counting the hotel).

    Ah, and the land of Canuck is the same land that has companies charging for inbound text messages (0.15 Loonies per), just to add a little perspective to the madness. I'm going to charge my friends ten cents per spam text message that I don't send.

  19. Chris Lewis
    Dead Vulture

    Blaming Apple? Try not using AJAX next time

    It's pretty clear O2 didn't do their sums at all, or they would've gone for something other than a totally overkill AJAX RIA and all the server-side state handling those entail.

    I'd gladly have stared at the world's most boring, CSS-free, table-ridden Web 1.0 form if it actually let me place an order or, at the very least, use my browser "back" button.

  20. Alex

    If you can't be arsed with O2

    hold on till the end of september and get one on Vodafone!


  21. Will
    Jobs Halo

    Come on people

    He obviously meant 13000 people a second were attempting to order and then when this failed at any point during the process, they had to start all over again, no wonder there were so many order attempts every second.

    Here's how you should have done it O2

    Monday, existing iphone users get text inviting them to upgrade.

    Tuesday, existing O2 customers who are not Iphone users get change to upgrade.

    Wednesday, free for all.

    Not hard is it?

  22. sleepy

    No, they shouldn't have done this at all . . .

    Given inadequate launch stock, they should at most have allowed pre-authorisation. Then made you queue at your chosen retail store on Friday/Saturday to get a chance to be one of the first. Then accepted online orders from Monday for delivery when stock is available.

  23. James Looker


    13,000 attempted sales every second but 12,999 error messages to go with them.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Existing Customers

    Why the hell would O2 prioritise existing customers over new ones. They've already got all the existing iPhone users tied up in an 18 month contract, so giving them one of the first allocation handsets makes no sense.

    Would make much better business sense for them to make the upgraders wait a couple of months until they have enough stock to handle upgrades, without them affecting availability to new customers.

    These guys are in this to make money, not just provide people with shiny new toys.

  25. go


    Nice one O2!

    I mean, don't get me wrong, apple p**s me off with their smarmy attitude to things but when you stick an ajax front end (and god knows what at the back) up under that kind of pressure unless you had deep blue parked out the back you'd struggle to get it to perform.

    I remember trying an ajax webmail client for our company, I think we turned it off after the first day for fear that the front end servers might melt, from memory I think 10 people managed to connect and everything!

    Frankly if the only form i'd seen was the "/failover/index.html" one I'd have been very happy, if it even worked that is! I couldn't have cared less about flash interfaces or shadowing on buttons, or even a ruddy basket, all I wanted was to place an order, simple, I didn't want to watch an eppisode of art attack on drugs that only loaded every tenth time if I was even that lucky....

    Bottom line o2 is that you messed it up, the least you can do is be honest with us, just be honest and admit it...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two Lessons

    1. O2 borked it big style and now want to point the finger elsewhere.

    2. There are an awful lot of of saddos out there desperate to be 'first on the block' with what is ,in effect, an incremental upgrade.

    On a side note, is it known as a BejasusPhone in Ireland ?

  27. Rob Haswell

    AJAX developer here

    Hey guys, although I haven't seen exactly what AJAX magic O2 did, you should know that in my considerable experience and AJAX UI uses less resources than an equivalent HTML one.

  28. Jared Earle

    @AC - Two Lessons

    Incremental upgrade? Well, sort of; It's another iPhone. You get to keep the original one as well, so if you're anything like me, it's a new-to-her iPhone for the missus as well.

    Me? I got the SMS and relaxed knowing I was waiting until the end of the month to upgrade. The killer upgrade for me is the 2.0 software and that'll run on the 1st gen iPhones. However, here at work, I could hear a few annoyed grunts as my colleagues who were on non-iPhone O2 contracts failed to order iPhones on the what-were-we-thinking AJAX site.

    Welcome to the FAIL${insert fail joke here}.

  29. AF

    O2 do us a favour and you COMPLAIN? Are you kidding me?!

    First things first, I'm an O2 iPhone customer - not at launch, but a month or so after. I will, stock permitting, be going for a new iPhone, and I did get caught up in the chaos on Monday. I'm not a iPhone hater, and I'm not going to call anyone a fanboi.

    I am, however, going to call everyone who is whining about not getting an upgrade to their existing iPhone a COMPLETELY UNGRATEFUL IDIOT!!! New customers, this doesn't apply to you.

    Let's just remember one thing, here: we signed up for an 18-month contract. We've all got at least half of that left to run, yet O2 are offering us the chance to buy a new subsidised phone WITHOUT having to wait until the end of our current contracts! Seriously, this almost never happens (I say 'almost', I'm sure there will be those who've done it but it's not the norm) - since they've already locked us in to the contract, there is NO incentive for them to throw more money at us in the shape of cheap phones. Anyone else would be concentrating on bringing in new customers who'd held off until the iPhone was 3G, and only then would they let current customers have at the stock. Obviously all the current iPhone users would be all "OMG i bought the first version even though everyone knew there'd be 3G in a bit and now I want the new one and I don't want to honour my contract I hates you I hates you o2 you suck", but that's what happens when you sign up for a contract. We're all old enough to sign a contract, so we should all be old enough to deal with the consequences.

    Yeah, sure, we have to start a new 18-month contract - but so does everyone else. Yeah, sure, it would be nicer if they'd done it the same way as the first one - phone and contract are separate - but then we'd be paying more and people wouldn't be happy. Yet O2 give people the best of both worlds - cheap phone and early contract get-out and STILL PEOPLE ARE CRYING!!!

    The upgrade offer is open for another three months - plenty of time yet. Get over yourselves, realise what a rare thing this is - a cellco actually doing its existing customers a favour, instead of screwing them over like usual - and calm the heck down!

  30. Cthonus
    Paris Hilton

    The Indie goes independant on facts

    According to the above article the iPhone is *this very moment* on sale in the high street. Methinks the O2 staff could get pretty cheesed off if punters come in brandishing a copy of this piece.

    Paris - because even she couldn't get as many facts wrong in a couple of paragraphs. Or could she? :p

  31. Nosmo
    IT Angle

    13,000 orders a second? Not quite.....

    I can believe 13,000 http requests a second to their web servers, but not 13,000 different individuals trying to order. The fact that the order process had to be restarted if was an error would have made things a great deal worse. Looking at the requests made for each page on the O2 site, there are between 10 and 50 requests made per page (some files will be cached). I can't access the upgrade site any more, but it seems much more likely that a few hundred people a second were trying to order iPhones at a time.

    I'm guessing that Mr Shurrock was told "13,000 requests a second" by those responsible for the web servers, and that they accidentally neglected to make clear that this didn't mean individual orders.

  32. Reptar

    Blah Blah

    Another new high tech gadget will be in short supply. Ooh I'd better get my order in now then. Cos they must be so good.

    I've trained my brain to filter out this guff now. Join me.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Alex - Re. Vodafone & iPhone

    Is the iPhone going to be sold by Vodafone in the UK then?? I know other overseas Vodafone companies will be selling them. But not heard anything about Vodafone in the Uk.

  34. Rob


    Yeah, but we all paid full price for the first one!! then we continued paying tariffs which wouldn't have looked out of place alongside a SUBSIDISED handset, we've done nothing but line o2's pockets, a free upgrade's the least they could do

  35. Jon Pain

    My iPhone 3G

    Has Apparently been dispatched now from O2, Just waiting for Friday!

  36. pctechxp

    Crap site

    I see O2's online shop hasn't improved, tried to order a Sony Ericsson K800i PAYG phone last year in november several times and it rejected all of the cards I tried (which are all in excellent standing) including an AMEX.

    I phoned one of the issuers who told me that authorisation had been requested and approved so it was O2's crap site that turned the business away (though they have no problem taking my money when topping up) and had been a customer for over 2 years and ordered under my profile

    I ordered by phone in the end and had to chase a courier who lied to me when I agreed with him a delivery time in the afternoon and indeed I booked the afternoon off only to find that he'd turned up in the morning.

    In the end I let them return the phone to O2 and ordered it via a mail order catalogue whom a relative is an agent for.

    O2 are good on call charges and the customer service is ok but sales is lousy.

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