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O2 logoThis morning customers who had pre-registered their interest in the iPhone 3G were given the opportunity to purchase the Jesus phone via O2’s online shop, snapping up a limited amount of devices which had been set aside. Not that it did the website much good…

According to O2, the response was so great that the online store completely sold out of iPhone 3Gs within just a few hours.

Despite the fact O2 had invested several million pounds to increase the order capacity of the website – with order processing capacity increased by more than 250 times its normal rate – at times the site still couldn’t process the sheer weight of interest.

O2 said it has seen “unprecedented demand” for the iPhone 3G, with customer orders already far in excess of the original Apple iPhone.

“We’ve never seen any mobile device create the excitement and demand of the iPhone 3G,” said Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2 in the UK.

“We want to ensure that everyone who wants an iPhone 3G can get one so we’ll be working with Apple to continually replenish our supplies throughout the summer.”

The iPhone 3G goes on general sale from 8.02am in all Apple stores and at selected O2 and Carphone Warehouse stores on Friday 11 July. All remaining stores will open at standard trading times.

To ensure fairness, O2 will sell the device on a strictly first come, first served basis to both new and upgrading customers in all retail outlets.

The 8GB iPhone 3G will be available for free to customers opting for the £45 or £75 tariffs and £99 on the £30 and £35 per month tariffs.

The 16GB model will cost £159 on the £30 and £35 tariffs, £59 on the £45 tariff and it will be free on the £75 tariff.

All customers will continue to receive unlimited UK data browsing over O2’s mobile network and unlimited access to over 9,000 Wi-Fi hotspots through both The Cloud and BT Openzone (subject to O2’s excessive use policy).

Existing iPhone customers can upgrade early to the iPhone 3G through O2 channels by re-signing a new 18 month contract, taking advantage of the same great offer as new customers.

They will then be able to give their existing 2G iPhone to a friend, family member or colleague who can transfer onto an iPhone tariff if they are an existing O2 Pay Monthly or business customer, stick in their existing O2 SIM and buy the appropriate Bolt-Ons for unlimited data.

Alternatively, they can buy an iPhone Pay & Go SIM card from 11 July offering unlimited data and unlimited Wi-Fi access to The Cloud and BT Openzone hotspots for £10 per month. That’s if any Pay & Go sims are actually put on sale