It's already being called the "iPocalypse." Many early purchasers of the new iPhone 3G are unable to activate their phones through iTunes because the activation servers are overwhelmed. Similar problems are being reported with U.S. activations of AT&T service and U.K. activations through O2. The problems with the activation servers have become the story of the day, transforming iPhone mania into one of the most public crunch-time operational failures imaginable. Here are some of the headlines on major tech news sites:
- Launch woes turn iPhone Parousia into activation apocalypse
- Activation server crashes slow lines, frustrates iPhone buyers
- Epic Fail: Six Million iBricks ... and Growing
Clearly not what Apple had in mind. But how could Apple not have foreseen the activation logjam and prepared its infrastructure to handle the volume? A message we heard over and over at recent conferences like Velocity and Structure 08 is that scaling to handle the huge traffic spikes faced by today's popular online services requires both expertise and equipment.
So how does Apple manage this high-profile gaffe? Their response will provide yet another case study in how a major tech company seeks to retain trust amid a massively frustrating user experience. Check out this morning's post, Dealing With Downtime, to read about how lessons learned from uptime struggles at other firms.