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

Blame for O2 pre-order chaos laid at Apple's door

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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 Steve Shurrock laid the blame at Apple's door, specifically the Mac maker's alleged inability to get sufficient stock in place to meet demand - despite O2's requests for more.

The email, if genuine, makes fascinating reading, not only for punters who tried to get hold of an iPhone this week, but also those looking forward to picking one up when it launches on Friday.

"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.

"We are confident that over time we will start to get sufficient volume to meet demand," he added, and then warned: "But it is likely that stock will be in very short supply for some weeks to come."

How limited? Well, according to Shurrock's email, subsequently posted online, O2 had "over 200,000 people expressing interest and only a very small proportion of that number of devices available".

That figure represents the number of Brits who registered their interest in the iPhone through O2's website. Yesterday, O2 contacted them all, inviting them to go online and place an order.

Most, if not all, of them did, causing O2's website to wobble under the strain.

"Demand was at 13,000 orders per second," said Shurrock. "Frankly, we have to admit we just weren't prepared for this unprecedented level of demand. No website is."

And it's all Apple's fault for not providing O2 with enough iPhones, it seems. That imbalance between the number of interested consumers and the available stock of handsets forced O2 to essentially run a lottery.

"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."

O2 split the stock available 50:50 between new customers and folk already signed up with the carrier, the email claims. But what about everyone else?

"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."

"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."

Stock, he said, will be sold solely on a first come, first served basis.

Thanks to Register Hardware reader Jon for the tip.

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