Update on UK iPhone 3G availability

This content is 16 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

iPhone 3G logoAfter Monday’s debacle with the O2 website being unable to respond to the demand for new iPhones, many O2 customers (myself included) received an SMS message this morning which said:

“O2: Unprecedented demand for iPhone 3G

If You tried to order an Apple iPhone 3G last Monday (7 July) and experienced difficulties, we’re really sorry.

To find out the latest details, click on http://shop.o2.co.uk/info/”

I clicked the link and, because I’m sure the notice will not remain on the site indefinitely, here’s a copy of what it says:

iPhone 3G availability update

Thank you for your interest in iPhone 3G. We are experiencing unprecedented demand for the device and whilst we are confident that all customers who want iPhone 3G will get one by the end of this summer, initial supply is limited and will be for some weeks. Here is what you need to know:

  • O2 and Carphone Warehouse (CPW) stores will have limited numbers of iPhone 3G this Friday 11 July.
  • On average, we will only have a few dozen iPhone 3Gs per store (some stores more, some stores less, dependant upon store size so we expect to sell out quickly). Sales of iPhone 3G will be limited to one per customer and two for business customers.
  • Some O2 stores will open at 8.02am on Friday, others a bit later. Find out more
  • If you do go into an O2 store you will need 2 forms of identification, a valid credit or debit card and proof of address. If you are new to O2 you will also need to pass a credit check if you sign up for an iPhone 3G contract. The average sales transaction processing time will be 20 minutes.
  • Apple will be selling iPhone 3Gs in their stores, but please note that existing O2 customers can only upgrade in an O2 or CPW store.
  • We are working closely with Apple to get additional iPhone 3Gs. These will be coming in on a weekly basis. We’ll keep you posted on specific details by updating this web page regularly.
  • We are currently out of stock of iPhone 3Gs via our on-line store and customer services, we’ll update through www.o2.co.uk when more information becomes available.
  • If you have an existing iPhone you can still enjoy many of the new features by upgrading your software to version 2.0 from 11 July through iTunes.
  • We are sorry that we can’t meet all demand as quickly as we’d like but we’re sure that when you get your new iPhone 3G you’ll agree it’s been worth the wait.

If you are one of those customers who tried to use our Online shop on Monday, you might like to read on.

I am sorry that you had a frustrating experience in trying to order iPhone 3G. This note summarises why it happened and what happens now.

From the start, we felt it was important that people should be able to register that they were interested and be kept up to date with each part of the launch. As well as giving people the information they needed to get a new iPhone, it would give us an idea of how many iPhones we would need from Apple.

An amazing 200,000 people registered on the site. Apple can only supply us with a small proportion of that number to start with, but with weekly deliveries, we’re confident that everyone who wants an iPhone will be able to get one by the end of the summer. Until then, we realise that some people will be disappointed.

The people who’d registered on our site had the chance to order an iPhone before anyone else. We let them know that they could do this by going online on 7 July and we made it clear that it would be on a first come, first served basis to keep things fair, as stock was limited.

Naturally, we made sure we looked after people already on O2 as well as new customers. And in fact the orders that we received were split 50-50 between new and existing O2 customers.

What went wrong?
Because we were so open about where and when you could pre-order your iPhone, the online shop was always going to be busy. We tried to prepare for this by increasing the online shop’s capacity to 250 times its normal rate and testing it over and over again before the launch.

It wasn’t enough. I’m really sorry if you couldn’t get your order in. We weren’t prepared for the speed and volume of people. I’m not sure any website could have been.

What happens now?
If you ordered online and your order went through, we’ll text you by 6pm tonight, just to confirm. You’ll get your iPhone 3G delivered on Friday 11 July unless you live in one of these remote postcodes. If you haven’t had a text by then, I’m afraid your order wasn’t successful. Your options if you still want an iPhone will be to either go into a O2 store tomorrow and I would recommend you read the key points at the top of this page or alternatively, check the website in the future for stock availability.

Once again, I’m sorry if you had problems with the online shop on Monday. We’re working very closely with Apple to get as much stock as we can for the UK, as quickly as possible.

Thank you

Cheryl Black
Customer Service Director

Still no news on the white iPhone 3G. That’s the one I’ll be after.

6 thoughts on “Update on UK iPhone 3G availability

  1. This week’s experiences has made me very unhappy with Apple, O2 and Carphone Warehouse.

    O2 told me that I had successfully ordered an iPhone 3G. Then I phoned to double-check and they said I hadn’t. Then I received an email saying my order was being processed by their warehouse. Then I failed to get the text saying my order has been accepted, so I guess it wasn’t. On the O2 site, it still says “In Progress”.

    I went to an O2 store this morning and discovered that Apple failed to deliver their promised quantities. The store I visited was expecting 100 x 8Gb iPhones and 50 x 16Gb iPhones. Instead, they received about 30 x 8Gb and 8 x 16Gb. No matter, the O2 store employee told me, there’s only about 3 people in the queue who want a 16Gb so you’ll be fine.

    Then they stopped being able to credit check people. Apparently, lots of stores were all trying to process customers at once. No surprise there, to anyone except O2 apparently. With the system down, they started taking names and telephone numbers to let people know when they could come and collect their phones. By the time I got to the front, there were no 16Gb iPhones left, so I walked away.

    Then on to the Carphone Warehouse. They had about 8 – 10 people in the queue, which had apparently stalled while they waited for the credit checking system to respond. I had heard a rumour that existing iPhone owners couldn’t upgrade at Carphone Warehouse and Apple Stores, only at O2 stores, so I took advantage of the lull and went up to the front to ask them.

    Three Carphone Warehouse salespeople, obviously bored, responded together that yes, they were happy to upgrade existing iPhone users.

    Not only that, but they claimed that existing iPhone owners could only upgrade at Carphone Warehouse, not O2 stores.

    I was happy to ignore their mistake, but then I found out they’d only had 3 x 16Gb iPhones in stock and they’d all been sold, so I walked away.

    To be honest, I expected nothing better from the Carphone Warehouse, but I feel that Apple and O2 have really let down their most loyal customers with this debacle.

  2. So basically, you’ve confirmed what we all knew – O2 are incompetent and Carphone Warehouse are a bunch of liars.

    Meanwhile Apple has loads of stock but can’t/won’t handle upgrades…

  3. It’s not all roses if you manage to get your hands on one anyway. I’ve got mine all lovely and shiny. It does nothing. Itunes reports that there is an SSL configuration error on my PC – which there isn’t. A quick Google search seems to indicate that I am amongst many who cannot get a response from the activating servers… Who’d have thought so many of the shipped iPhones would get activated on the same day? Clearly not Apple.

  4. I suspect that’s O2 dropping the ball yet again. Activation would be through O2’s servers, which don’t seem to be up to much… maybe the hamster died.

  5. Why oh why do companies never seem to learn. This usually happens with the latest must have toy at christmas, now its becoming a regular occurrence with electronic gadgets as well.

    When will the PR people learn that when something is hyped there will be a high demand for it.

  6. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is either a very carefully managed PR exercise on the part of Apple or O2 (possibly both companies), or that O2 are inept.

    Yesterday, I visited 3 stores within a few yards of one another in Solihull:

    • The Apple Store had plenty of 3G iPhones – white and black – and when I asked about the white one they said it was exclusive to Apple, but I could only upgrade with O2 (no mention of Carphone Warehouse, although O2’s communication suggests that you can upgrade there).
    • The Carphone Warehouse store had stock (at least they said they did – I didn’t actually try to buy one but you can generally spot when a Carphone Warehouse employee is lying: because their lips move). They were unaware of any plans for the white iPhone 3G to be available from them.
    • The O2 store had no stock, but were hoping for some more phones that day. When I asked about the white ones, the guy in the store thought they were supposed to be getting some in about 3 weeks, but he also said that the same had been said for the 16GB models and they were available on launch day so it’s really difficult to judge what is happening.

    So, there are 3G iPhones around, just not at O2. O2 split its initial shipment 50/50 between existing and new customers (but new customers can get one from Apple – existing customers can’t – leaving a lot of existing customers upset). I really get the feeling that this is all so that Apple can “proove” how popular the iPhone is at the same time as restricting supply to non-Apple retailers and keeping a hold on the market themselves.

    Not having enough of something is rarely bad PR. It just generates further hype and demand. Groupthink is very powerful and perception (that it’s really difficult to get an iPhone 3G so you should grab one whilst you can) becomes reality.

    Sadly, me blogging about it (and Suzy spamming my blog to promote her iPhone givaway site ;-) ) only adds to that hype.

    Meanwhile, I sold my original iPhone on eBay and now not having one is driving me mad. Some people who know me well reckon that I’ll cave in and buy the black one. I’m sure that the moment I do that the white one will become available at O2 so I’m holding out for a while longer… watch this space.

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