Apple Can't Keep Up With Demand for iPhone Updates

Apple servers are overwhelmed as iPhone users rush to upgrade their devices in advance of iPhone 4S's debut on Friday

Oh, the spinning beach ball of death!

Apple's new iPhone operating system can do many magical things, but ensuring an easy upgrade process is apparently not one of them.

Since the iOS5’s release Wednesday, early adopters eager to upgrade their older devices have been pulling out their hair and flooding Apple stores in search of assistance. The iPhone with the software already installed – that would be the 4S model – actually arrives in stores on Friday.

Also read: Apple Unveils New iPhone — and It's Not iPhone 5

Among the complaints: Overwhelmed servers, missing apps and exceedingly long download times. A perturbed minority even reported “bricked,” or frozen, iPhones.

The dread “Error 3200” apparently popped up so repeatedly that it may enter into the same (albeit compact) Apple Hall of Miscues as Steve Jobs’ explanation that users of an earlier iPhone with antenna problems were holding their devices incorrectly.

As tech sites like Mashable reported, beleaguered Apple service reps advised callers that the company as trying to fix the error, apparently caused by the huge number of customers trying to update their software on overmatched servers. The entire upgrade process took more than three hours for some users.

Tech blogger Bill Palmer noted that the simplest fix was of course to get the new and fairly pricey (starting at $199) iPhone 4S with the system pre-installed.

He added: “iPhone users who’ve spent the day fighting through mysterious “3200 error” messages and not being able to use their phone for hours during the update process could be less than charitable toward the idea of giving Apple a couple hundred dollars for a 4S as a reward for a flawed iOS 5 rollout for existing iPhones. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets creative at connecting dots and claims Apple must have tanked the iOS 5 rollout on purpose to drive the iPhone4S.”

Despite the hassles, users welcomed new features that led reviewers like the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg to recommend the phone as a nice but not essential upgrade. He was fond of the new voice-activated control feature Siri, “a nascent artificial-intelligence system that has to be tried to be believed.

Around he same time the iPhone was being introduced, reports began circulating that Apple is readying a scheme to put movies in the cloud, which would put in somewhere between a distributor for and a competitor to, the Hollywood studios.

Apparently Apple reps have been in optimistic talks with the studios to make deals that would allow consumers to buy movies through iTunes and access them on any Apple device. That service, if made final, could launch as soon as late this year.