This morning, at 8am (although I didn’t get the text message until 8.50), O2 (the sole UK mobile operator able to offer the Apple iPhone to its customers) started selling iPhone 3Gs online to people who had pre-registered their interest.
Given that O2 knew how many people had pre-registered, it’s logical to think that they might have been able to judge the demand – but apparently not.
Aside from the fact that the upgrade site was unavailable from an iPhone (which is nothing short of bizarre) my reasons for being unable to access the site were entirely outside O2’s control (I was driving when I received the message and then in a client meeting until lunchtime) but one of my friends was experiencing poor website performance before 9 o’clock, then the site went down completely for most of the morning and, at lunchtime, O2 customer service told me that the 16GB models were all sold out (certainly people were complaining on the Apple discussion forums soon after that they could only get an 8GB iPhone 3G… although that thread now seems to have been removed). My friend did at least manage to get conformation that his order had been successful (after 6 hours of trying) but by late afternoon the O2 website was clear that there was no more stock available online and that there would be more information available on 10 July.
I can’t help thinking that the whole thing was stage managed – after all what a great headline: iPhone 3G sold out from pre-orders alone. Except it’s not – there is still stock in stores waiting until 11 July – and there will be more online.
With special pricing available to existing customers who want to upgrade to the new handset, the message is far from clear with O2 staff giving conflicting information to customers. I’m now confident that I will not need my old phone at the time of upgrade (and it’s currently listed for sale on eBay) but, twice now, O2’s iPhone “customer service” team has told me that I will be able to upgrade in store, despite the local store telling me that upgrades are only available via customer service and the website clearly stating that:
“Existing iPhone customers upgrade early to the iPhone 3G before 11th October 2008.
Only available online.”
They were similarly uninformed about the availability of the white 16GB model but the O2 website currently states that iPhone 3G is only available in black and there are rumours of an O2 internal memo that suggests the white iPhone 3G it is 3-4 weeks away.
And, even though they have told me that “there is no extra charge for Exchange Active Sync”, I won’t be surprised if I later find that only business customers can access this service.
I might get myself down to an O2 or Apple store on Friday but I’m already starting to question whether I really need (as opposed to want) 3G or GPS…
Having said that, I was equally ambivalent about the original iPhone and now I’m worried about how I will manage for a few weeks without it!