O2: iPhone 3G Will Be In Short Supply For Weeks

Sales Director bravely steps into the breach to explain what's gone wrong.

Yes we’re here again and don’t be surprised if this is the way things are this week because we have one chaotic soap opera which just refuses to go away.

Following the pre-order carnage that greeted customers on Tuesday, a letter by O2 Sales Director Stephen Shurrock to an angry customer has (presumably without his knowledge) been posted to the MacRumours forum and it’s rather enlightening.

In it he admits “”At O2 we had said that we would keep all those who had registered their interest in Apple iPhone 3G up to date with the launch developments. We also used the registration data to keep Apple up to date on the phenomenal interest and to support our orders for the phones with them. We have been working continuously with them 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. We are confident that over time we will start to get sufficient volume to meet demand, but it is likely that stock will be in very short supply for some weeks to come.””

Interestingly, Shurrock also claims “”We opened the online shop yesterday” (and) ”had over 200,000 people expressing interest and only a very small proportion of that number of devices available. Faced with this dilemma, we made it clear in the communications that to be fair to all customers the orders would be managed on a first come first served basis, as stock was limited. The response was so great that the online store completely sold out of iPhones within just a few hours… The massive simultaneous crush, partly created by our open and honest communications approach with the registered community, exceeded even our worst case assumptions. Demand was at 13,000 orders per second. Frankly, we have to admit we just weren’t prepared for this unprecedented level of demand. No website is.””

As for launch day: “”The next opportunity to get an iPhone will be when the device goes on sale in the high street on 11th July. O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores will be taking new orders and upgrade orders. Apple stores will only be taking new customer contracts. Most shops will open at 8.02am but some stores, particularly in shopping centres where early access is not possible, will open as usual from 9am. The approach on Friday will also be on a first come first served basis. The amount of devices will vary depending on the store but will be on average a few dozen iPhones in each O2 or CPW store. We are expecting early queues and, like the online site, are expecting to sell out very quickly. Apple stores will have more devices. We will be receiving deliveries from Apple roughly once a week for the foreseeable future but it will be several weeks before stocks increase. We will release stock updates for the online shop as they become available.””

He then makes a full apology to the customer.

In sum, it’s a extremely admirable mail and comes clean about far more than we would have expected. Sadly however this doesn’t improve the situation for the 1,000s of frustrated wannabe customers out there. Still, I have something to make you feel (s)worse(/s) better: the first iPhone 3G unboxing courtesy of iPhonePortugal. It’s like you can almost touch it, but can’t…

”’Update:”’ Here’s one unleashed in a Swiss store too

MacRumours Letter Forum Post
iPhone 3G Unboxing

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