iPhone 3G pre-orders take down O2 website, 16GB iPhone gone already, PAYG later this year

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3g_iphone.jpgFrom 8am this morning, O2’s web site started accepting iPhone 3G pre-orders. Around an hour later, the site crashed due to heavy volume. At around 11.30am, the web site reappeared, claiming that the 16GB iPhone 3G was already unavailable.

At a similar time, The Carphone Warehouse’s web site started taking pre-orders, but their shopping cart refused to accept 16GB iPhone 3G orders, placing the 8GB model into the basket instead. About half-an-hour later, pre-ordering was removed, and only came back online at about 11.30am.

As expected, a contract-free pay-as-you-go iPhone 3G will not be available until “later this year”. Additionally, there seems to be no way to pre-order a white 16GB iPhone, suggesting that rumours of Apple withholding stock may be true.

Registering online doesn’t get you out of signing up for an 18-month contract, as you have to pay for the iPhone, select a tariff, and provide bank details for the direct debit.

Die-hard iPhone fans could face a tense week. It’s hard to know how many iPhones will be available in O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores on Friday, and how long they’ll last. With interest in the iPhone 3G ten times that of the first iPhone, it could be a long wait if you don’t get your order in today.

Update: O2’s web site now states that online stock of the iPhone 3G has gone, and to come back on 10th July for more information (what’s the betting they’ll say “go to an O2 store tomorrow morning”)

However, an industry source has let us know that O2 has already sold out of the 250,000 iPhone 3G handsets it had to last it until August, with all going on upgrades (iPhone or other O2 contract customers, presumably). This isn’t an official statement, and O2 may well have separate stock already in their stores. The Carphone Warehouse, which presumably already has its own stock, still appears to be offering both 8GB and 16GB black iPhone 3Gs for pre-order, though this could soon change.

Related posts: Apple to limit 16GB iPhone 3G? | iPhone 3G better deal in UK than US

Andy Merrett