Apple’s iPhones always cause a launch day frenzy, whether that’s the day to start “pre-ordering” or the day you can go into stores to buy unlocked iPhones outright or carrier-locked iPhones on a 24-month plan.
For the last 7 years, Apple has had to deal with ever larger swarms of customers trying to order Apple’s latest and greatest at the earliest opportunity, thus ensuring the earliest possible delivery of a shiny new iPhone, rather than having to wait weeks if not months for stocks to become available.
Apple is supposed to have ordered the largest initial shipment of iPhones ever in one go for a new iPhone launch, but even so, tens if not hundreds of millions of people trying to get to a website is going to cause problems no matter which company you are – even if you’re Apple.
So it was on Friday. Looking at Apple’s site at approximately 4.45pm, you could see Apple’s usual “We’ll be back soon” message noting that the online Apple Store was being updated, as happens every year.
Then, at 5.01pm when the floodgates were meant to be opened, nothing happened.
The site was still in “we’ll be back soon” mode.
It took at least half an hour if not a big longer before Apple’s site finally started loading, albeit very slowly.
However, it looked like it was finally working, with my cousin wanting me to order him a couple of iPhones using his credit card, which I was trying to do for him.
The problem was, trying to select the 128GB iPhone 6 Plus (or any iPhone) got stuck when trying to add an iPhone to the shopping cart.
It just wouldn’t load properly, thus stymieing all attempts at buying an iPhone, and this continued for at least a couple of hours if not longer.
I had my cousin chatting to me on Skype to see whether or not I had been successful, and after about 45 minutes of additional waiting once Apple’s site went live, we just decided to give up, even though we knew that endless persistence would eventually get an order through.
The problem was that every man, woman, their dogs, their cats and other assorted pets were trying to get an iPhone 6 order in quickly so that the phone itself would arrive quickly, given previous years where shipping times slipped from days to weeks in very short order.
Unsurprisingly, this is exactly what has happened this time around, with the iPhone 6 Plus now not available for shipping until sometime in late October at the earliest, with Australian telcos selling the iPhone 6 Plus also completely sold out of that model.
Telco sites (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone etc) likewise quickly went down on Friday as they were overwhelmed by traffic from eager beavers all wanting to place an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus order.
Now that the global rush has died down, it is easy to go to Apple’s site or those of its carrier partners, but the iPhones in question are already either sold out or have long shipping times.
Even though the whole episode looks like a gigantic fustercluck on Apple’s part, given that it must have known or at least expected that iPhone demand would be through the roof, it does seem as though global demand for larger Apple iPhones really hit home hard this time, especially given the fact everyone expected larger iPhones to arrive last year instead of 12 months later.
Indeed, you have to wonder whether clever stock allocations to telcos around the world and whether specific decisions were taken by Apple to somewhat cripple its infrastructure just to ensure ordering would be difficult, thus heightening even further the craze and unobtainability of the new iPhones and guaranteeing plenty of media coverage even if it was about the “bad news” of Apple’s and telco sites crashing.
After all, there’s supposedly no such thing as bad news, but the other side of that coin is whether Apple needs to go though such shenanigans to create the perception of high demand, when it seems clear that the high demand for its products is already there organically from the fact Apple arguably makes the world’s most desired products, something that is seen time and again every year whenever the company launches a new “anything”.
So, Apple’s site crashed, the moon went around the Earth, the Earth went around the Sun and the Milky Way went around the Universe. In other words, nothing new actually happened if you think about it concerning launch demand.
High Apple demand is just what happens at these times and you simply have to be ultra persistent and click happy to do your darnedest to get pre-order an iPhone – or wait in line at an Apple store either for days or at the very least from very early on Friday morning when in-store sales officially go live.
Alternatively there are plenty of Android devices out there that aren’t quite receiving the same clamour as the iPhone, but if it’s an iPhone you want, an Android won’t do.
It looks like the world can also expect heavy demand for the new iPads due next month in October, but whether peak demand will be as high as it has been for the iPhone 6 is yet to be seen.
Until then, the wait for an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus only grows longer, so unless you plan on waiting in line on Friday, potentially at a smaller telco store rather than one of Apple’s own stores, the wait for an iPhone 6 for many likely still has a very far off date.