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iOS 5 Launch Becomes Update Disaster

When Apple's iOS 5 became available Wednesday, many people were plagued by installation problems that bricked devices.

Eric Zeman

October 12, 2011

3 Min Read

Apple released its long-awaited iOS 5 operating system to anxious users of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch Wednesday. For many, the excitement dimmed quickly when, rather than installing on their devices, the update created problems and even bricked phones.

The iOS software became available at 10 A.M. Pacific time. Users first needed to download and install iTunes version 10.5.

Apple made iTunes 10.5 available on Tuesday, a day ahead of iOS 5's release, probably hoping to protect its servers from the massive onslaught of devices seeking the updated software. Once iTunes 10.5 is installed, iOS 5 can be found, downloaded, and installed on iOS devices.

Only it's not quite working out that way.

Reports have flooded Apple support forums, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks about difficulties in updating handsets. The update--which measures more than 800 megabytes for the iPhone 4--can be downloaded but not installed on the handsets. Rather than install, iTunes is generating an error message "3200."

[ What's in iOS 5 for you? See 9 Apple iOS 5 Features That Matter. ]

In addition to complaints of failed updates, those people who have updated successfully report lost/deleted applications and, worse, bricked phones. (Bricked phones are rendered useless.)

Speaking personally, I have been unable to access the iTunes store to update the applications that are installed on my device. I receive an error message saying that the iPhone App Store isn't available.

iPhone users faced a similar problem in 2008, when the iPhone 3G launched on the same day that iOS 2.0 was made available to the iPhone. The crush of people accessing iTunes to register their devices and download the new software caused major headaches for customers and Apple alike.

Also going live Wednesday is Apple's iCloud service, which is supposed to be backed up by a huge data center that Apple built in North Carolina. iCloud, a revamped version of MobileMe, syncs user data and settings across iOS devices. The initial connecting and syncing process is under heavy strain from the sheer volume of users hoping to set up new accounts. It infamously crumbled in 2008, prompting heated meetings within Apple and the departure of at least one Apple manager.

Apple has not acknowledged Wednesday's problems, but given the sentiment seen on Twitter and Facebook, users are not happy.

With the iPhone 4S slated to begin arriving on consumer doorsteps this Friday, Apple needs to make sure its servers are in perfect working order so they can handle the new devices and accounts being activated.

UPDATE: Now that iOS 5 has been available for more than 24 hours, the strain on Apple's servers has eased. It doesn't appear that there are any hiccups preventing iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users from downloading the update. Apple's support forums, however, show a healthy dose of trouble for those who've performed the update. Looking at the threads this morning, users report lost files, lost applications, iCloud syncing issues, installation problems and errors, and, unfortunately, bricked devices. The initial difficulty of downloading the update has passed, but plenty of problems remain for users updating their devices. It's a shame that the problems Apple faced in 2008 with the iPhone 3G and iOS 2.0 have returned.

About the Author(s)

Eric Zeman


Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

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