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Demand for iPhones Crashes Cellular Carrier's Web Site

British customers determined to get their hands on Apple's new 3G iPhone caused the O2 network's Web site to crash Monday morning as they rushed to pre-order the new device.

Pre-orders opened at 8 a.m., and within an hour the Web site had buckled under what an O2 spokesman described as phenomenal demand for the new iPhone, which goes on sale Friday.

O2 said that 200,000 people had already registered their interest in the device online, but when pre-ordering — which will allow applicants to have the device delivered — began Monday, the site experienced some difficulties.

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"Unfortunately we have had a few problems this morning — there was an unprecedented demand at 8 a.m. when the pre-ordering went live, but the site is working again now," an O2 spokesman said at lunchtime Monday.

O2, which is the sole network on which the iPhone is available in the U.K., said that the initial order of new iPhones had been split roughly in half between pre-orders, which can only be made online, and stores, which will begin selling the device on Friday.

The company declined to specify how many phones it had ordered.

• Click here to read the rest of this story in the Times of London.