updated 09:30 pm EDT, Wed September 18, 2013
Company issues 'high priority alert' to support staff help unclog queues
In the first test of how well Apple's servers may be able to hand the rush of new iPhone activations that will be coming on Friday, a reliable source has reported that the company is struggling to keep services running smoothly in light of a large number of iOS 7 downloads. The process requires re-activations of devices as they first begin running the new operating system, putting stress on the servers and causing periodic issues with activation or downloading the new update. In addition, it is possible that some pre-order customers may already be receiving iPhone 5c units.
Apple is said to have issued a "high-priority" P1 alert, notifying support personnel that server issues may be preventing customers from activating their iPhones following the installation of iOS 7, whether the device is new or recently restored. While many customers are likely to install the iOS 7 update through iTunes, many more are likely to do the update "over the air," necessitating a re-activation.
Downloading the iOS 7 update was also a challenge for much of Wednesday, as millions of users tried upgrading from the moment the update was available (around 10AM PT). Demand appears to have slacked off somewhat, and Apple's System Status page doesn't report any outages, but customers trying to update have frequently encountered incomplete downloads and other warnings indicative of an overloaded server system. In addition, MacNN has received reports of slow or unresponsive iTunes and App Store issues as well.
Luckily for Apple, the main deluge of current users updating their OS version will likely subside by the time the iPhone 5c goes on sale at retail, which could help ease the crunch for the crowds trying to activate new devices. The company is both blessed (and on days like today, cursed) that a huge portion of its iOS user base tries to upgrade on the first few days of the release of an update. Other platforms, largely fragmented by staggered device levels that are often stuck with outdated versions of the OS (or dependent on carriers who will take months to customize updates) don't see the concentrated levels of server demand Apple does when it releases an iOS update.
The company hasn't commented on the alleged activation server downtime, and reports have slacked off as customers have successfully upgraded, reducing demand -- at least until Friday, when the iPhone 5c and 5s go on sale at retail, and the first wave of pre-ordered phones arrive to customers' homes and workplaces. Scattered reports indicate that both models are selling well in pre-order, though Apple hasn't released any official figures yet and isn't expected to until Monday. The iPhone 5s is expected to completely sell out its first-day supply, and indications are that some of the five colors of iPhone 5c -- particularly white -- may as well.