iTunes Store failure temporarily bricking iPhones during 3.0 upgrade

The final step of upgrading the iPhone to the new 3.0 operating system is failing, as it appears that the iTunes Store has collapsed under the weight of millions of phones trying to authorize at once. (Complaints are trending on Twitter by the hundreds.)

Without the final authorization from iTunes, the new firmware doesn’t activate—bricking the iPhones and leaving them only able to make emergency calls. I know this, because I’m staring at my own bricked 3G.

It is advised to wait a few hours for the store to come back online before upgrading if you want to, you know, use your phone.

Update: And mine just activated. I had to unplug and replug about half a dozen times.

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22 Responses to iTunes Store failure temporarily bricking iPhones during 3.0 upgrade

  1. tros says:

    DTPhantom: Rational choice.

    They could either:

    -Beef up servers by 100% for one day, and pay for twice as much server-side than they need for the days following.
    -Crap out for a day, go with efficiency for the rest of their life.

    Seeing as how the latter is cheaper, and even Microsoft has had predictable failures (Win7 RC release), I can’t blame either company for not being infallible every day.

  2. Nelson.C says:

    I don’t know, if it’s acting more like a brick than like a phone, then ‘bricked’ seems like a reasonable word to use. I wasn’t aware that the Academy of English Usage had already decided that the word was limited to a particular technical state.

  3. Paul Coleman says:

    I must have gotten lucky…first try…Maybe they had a segregated server for us paying iPod customers. I suspect there’d be less traffic at $9.99 a pop.

  4. James Partridge says:

    At about 7 minutes in I got an error saying the activation server is unavailable. The phone still works.

  5. thundercheese says:

    Upgraded two phones last night with no problems. One took 15 minutes and the other took three hours.

  6. Doomstalk says:

    @Paul Coleman: I think the step is iPhone specific, since you don’t activate your iPod.

  7. DTPhantom says:

    Tros

    They don’t need to buy servers there are lots of ways to add capacity for a few days. You can rent temporary servers. I just think that for a massive company like apple to have the same problems 3 years running is unacceptable.

  8. Halloween Jack says:

    Yeah, I went home, plugged my phone in, hit the “Update” button, took a short nap… no prob.

  9. Paul Coleman says:

    Ah…that makes sense.

  10. DTPhantom says:

    haha isn’t this the same thing that happened the past 2 times? Maybe at some point apple will learn how to plug in a couple of extra servers, or maybe people will just stop buying apple products till they fix it.

  11. dculberson says:

    Nelson.C is right.. there’s nothing wrong with using ‘bricked’ in this circumstance.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Too bad it wasn’t permanent.

  13. Bevatron Repairman says:

    When I got to the final screen — telling me to connect to iTunes even though I already was — I just unplugged and replugged and it cleared the problem.

  14. Matt J says:

    I don’t know, if it’s acting more like a brick than like a phone, then ‘bricked’ seems like a reasonable word to use. I wasn’t aware that the Academy of English Usage had already decided that the word was limited to a particular technical state.

    I disagree. The point about something being ‘bricked’ is that it is totally useless for it’s original purpose, and so broken that the only possible use for it is as a brick. Here is the Wikipedia article on the subject.

  15. Matt J says:

    I feel that I’m fighting a losing battle here but, if it is temporary, it is not bricked. The whole point of something being ‘bricked’ is that it is in an almost unrecoverable state, which can only be fixed by messing around with the circuit board, not through software.

  16. Spike Curtis says:

    Don’t unplug and replug — on Windows at least — you can get it to retry the servers just by clicking another iTunes screen and then back on your iPhone.

  17. Zan says:

    Thanks MATT J. I was just about to post about how saying “my iPhone was temporarily bricked” is like saying “my iPhone was temporarily crushed into a fine powder by a Blendtec Blender”, but you beat me to it.

  18. Halloween Jack says:

    Maybe at some point apple will learn how to plug in a couple of extra servers, or maybe people will just stop buying apple products till they fix it.

    …or, alternatively, not all try to log in at once, like ye proverbial Black Friday shoppers trampling each other to save $5 on the latest overhyped bit of kit. FFS, I’ve waited nearly a year for cut-and-paste, it won’t kill me to have it tomorrow.

  19. Joel Johnson says:

    If it makes you feel better, I did pause on the “temporarily bricked” line, but I sort of figured it was a useful, if less-than-accurate shorthand. But I could be convinced never to use it again!

  20. Anonymous says:

    First, apple makes computers, they have enough computers to add server capacity. Second why does the iphone default to accusing you of stealing? That is asinine. The software update is only usefull on an iphone. You already bought the iphone. You own it.

  21. Andrew says:

    I’m trying to update the software for my iTouch but every time I go to buy it, it tells insufficent store credit remaining when I have $10+. Please post an answer or email me at aviscosi@optonline.net

  22. DTPhantom says:

    Halloween Jack

    No this is squarely apples fault. You don’t release a much anticipated software update and then say to people “please don’t download it”. Maybe a small company could say that but when you are a massive computer company there is no excuse for not having enough power to handle the rush, especially when this same thing has happened for the past 2 years.

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