Glitches for iPhone Launch in Britain

Mobile operator O2 says demand caused systems slowdowns. Sales of the Apple smartphone reached 40 per hour at some stores

Apple's UK 3G iPhone launch day did not go off without the obligatory technical hitch or two.

Mobile operator O2—Apple's iPhone partner in the UK—said the level of demand for the device caused its credit checking system to slow down across the country, forcing it to process some customers manually. The problem also meant Carphone Warehouse—the other retail outlet for the device in the UK, along with Apple and O2—had to switch to its own systems.

Despite the countrywide slowdown, an O2 spokeswoman said the operator was still able to process all its customers within the target 20-minute timeframe.

As of midday, the spokeswoman said O2 had sold out of 16GB iPhones in its Oxford Street store in London, adding: "We are selling in our biggest stores...40 [iPhone] handsets an hour—which is more contracts than we usually sell in a day. It's phenomenal."

However one iPhone customer, who was second in the queue to buy from a Carphone Warehouse shop in Canary Wharf this morning, told problems with O2's system meant he had to spend an hour in the shop before he could leave with his phone.

A spokesman for the retailer confirmed there had been "an issue" with O2's system this morning. But he added: "We were able to switch to our own systems and to continue selling so there wasn't any disruption in our service."

Meanwhile, some iPhone hopefuls attempting to buy the device from Apple's Regent Street flagship story left empty-handed, according to sister site,, after staff in the store were unable to access O2's network activation system.

At the time of publication, Apple had not responded to a request for comment.

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