I've come to the conclusion that no mobile operator, or even Apple for that matter, is capable of handling such widespread releases as either the original iPhone or even the iPhone 3G. So why have a simultaneous launch? Why not stagger them across areas/regions? Would make everyone's lives a lot easier.
I managed to buy a 3G iPhone on-line via the O2 pre-registration site (which means that at least I've been able to skip out the credit checks and other queues that are currently present across the other sites) but it's clear that things are hideously bad. It's clear that O2's launch buckled under the strain, and that now paperwork is being furiously completed in order to even release the phones.
Apple was on to a winning strategy when it was selling the phones without contract. The phones-with-contract plan; well, you can see how well that's worked out. Reports of Carphone Warehouse requiring that only new customers will get their stock to queues processing 20 people at a time were not only predictable, they were preventable. All you'd need is sufficient stock and an on-line system that could do this in advance (say, Monday) and then you'd be able to shift the units in time.
Except that didn't work, either. My iPhone turned up around lunchtime, and it's a brick. I can't do anything with it. It just sits there, saying "connect to iTunes". I'd already downloaded iTunes 7.7 ahead of time, but it's just stuck in "Accessing iTunes Store". It's not even the iTunes store itself; the iTunes store is operational, it's the bit behind doing the checking that isn't.
My experience with the first generation iPhone was much, much better. Open box. Run ZiPhone. Insert SIM card.
Frankly, if the tools to jailbreak the iPhone 3G are just around the corner, I think I might be better off jailbreaking just to be able to use the damn device.
If you need to contact me, I'm on my old number.