It’ll be a great disaster …

So spake Bruno, porter of the Monte Bianco Hotel in ‘Lord Parker’s ‘oliday’, an episode of Thunderbirds from 1966.

But the disaster didn’t come at WWDC with the official introduction to iPhone 4.  It came two days ago, when the heralded device went on pre-order, and price & availability was made available by carriers.

For a start, the Apple site went down.  Twice.  And badly.  The phone has already sold out on pre-order.  More than 600,000 lucky barstewards will get it on 24 June after successfully preordering at the Apple site.  After that, all hell broke loose.  Today, the preorder button on Apple UK’s store is greyed-out.  No iPhone for you.  You’re now not likely to get one until after 4 July.  The interest in iPad was bad enough, but this …

600,000 was the largest number of pre-orders Apple has ever received through their sites in one day.  In the UK, O2, Orange, Tesco, Vodafone, 3 and T-Mobile are slowly updating their sites with the updates prices and tariffs.  When I saw the Orange pricing I nearly choked on a pear drop.

Earlier in the day I dropped unceremoniously into the local Orange shop “knowing” they’d have no details.  “It’s not out yet,” said the very cute but suspiciously dumb brunette behind the desk.  I told her I was aware of that fact, but she conjured up a figure of “£429” for the PAYG phone on Orange.  Was that the 16GB model, I inquired.  “32GB I think” she offered.  Astounded, I told her that figure wasn’t bad (the phone, not hers).  Sadly, she went on to say “that might actually be for the 16GB.”

So that was a waste of time.  By this time, Orange hadn’t officially announced the prices.

That happened later in the day.  A tweet appeared, and I followed the link, like a donkey ambling slowly after a carry dangled from the proverbial.  By this time, I had the choking hazard in my mouth (in the form of a wrapped, unsugared (natch) Pell’s pear drop).

“£385″ I said to myself.  That’s not bad.  Is that the 16 or the 32?”  I looked at the column on the left.  The choking ensued.  It was neither – £385 ass the cost of the 3GS with iOS4.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to look further.  But I did.  £570 for the 32.  Ninety quid less for the 16.  Free WiFi (for 12 months) and 250MB browsing a month.  A choice of five different plans too, whether you wanted free texts or cheap calls or the like.

I stopped being ‘Angry Homer’ after about an hour.  Then I found out there were no white ones going on sale yet, which isn’t a bad thing in my case because I’d probably go for a black one this time.  The white one seems to have a strange grille affair above the speaker which looks like a disposable barbecue and seems nasty.

Apple banked £300,000,000.00 (yes, that’s three hundred million quid) from the UK in one day.  Enough to fuel Jobs’ private plane for a couple of days, I’m guessing.

And … AND … £25 for something called a ‘Bumper’ which is a rubber band that stretches around the steel portion of the phone – doesn’t even protect the not-very-tough glass on both sides.

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