If you’re going to offer a device as eagerly anticipated as the iPhone 3G for pre-order online (and with courier delivery to boot), you might want to prepare for it with some server redundancy and fault-tolerance checks. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a situation akin to the one in which O2 found itself today.
The British wireless carrier began began offering the Apple iPhone 3G (AAPL) for pre-order in the UK today at 8 a.m. Within moments, its Web site was overwhelmed with traffic and taken offline for “maintenance.” A short while later the site was back online, and by early afternoon O2’s pre-order stock was depleted. A lot of customers who’d attempted to purchase or upgrade to the device had no idea whether or not they had actually managed to do so.
Suffice to say, O2 customers were not at all pleased. “I tried for 3 hours today to complete the upgrade process online and have several update codes but the process was incredibly slow and through each page it either loaded with errors or else timed out,” wrote one customer in a post to Apple’s discussion forum. “This was a total farce, a complete waste of my time, and a bitter disappointment. I will expect O2 to have a 16Gb iphone reserved for me at my local store on production of the upgrade code.” Wrote another, “I feel disillusioned and despondent (I know it’s only a phone), but the experience of buying the original iPhone at the London Apple Store was a joy, I was made to feel valued as a customer. Now I just feel used and abused, like the morning after a particularly bad one-night stand. Thanks Apple for choosing such a lousy bedfellow in the UK.”