On July 10, 2008, Apple prematurely released iPhone Software 2.0, setting in motion one of the biggest launch flubs the company has ever seen. The following day, as the iPhone 3G went on sale and many current iPhone and iPod touch users began downloading the new software—which required activation, just like a new phone—Apple’s activation servers ground to a halt, causing enormous delays at Apple and carrier stores around the world. Amazingly, the server failures left some new iPhone 3G customers with useless handsets, unable to revert to their prior, working phones, but also unable to use their new, expensive iPhones. It was a PR catastrophe for the company, that, when combined with early MobileMe and App Store issues—both of which launched that same day—took the company weeks if not months to completely clear up.
This experience is why those of you anxiously awaiting the release of iPhone OS 3.0 for the iPhone and iPod touch should expect the update to become available sooner rather than later. After enduring the problems that a simultaneous launch schedule caused last year, we’re expecting that Apple will get 3.0 out the door well ahead of the next-generation iPhone, in hopes of getting as many users as possible migrated to the new software prior to launch day. Yesterday’s release of iTunes 8.2, which is required for iPhone OS 3.0, only lends further credence to the notion that Apple does not want to deal with another mess like the one it had on its hands last July, and a staggered release for the new OS and new iPhone seems like one of the most obvious ways to ensure that this year’s iPhone release goes as smoothly as possible.