Apple’s retail web site, Store.Apple.com, was unavailable for more than three hours yesterday as consumers flocked to the site in the wake of the release of a new version of the iPhone, the 3G S, and a major discount offer on the older iPhone 3G, an industry source says. Some believe Apple intentionally turned off the site to generate buzz about the new products.
The Apple e-commerce site, No. 5 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, was down between 11:46 a.m. and 3:04 p.m. Eastern time, according to a web performance monitoring company that asked not to be named. “According to our tests, shoppers going to Store.Apple.com either saw a blank screen or a browser message indicating that the file or page could not be found,” a company official says.
The firm, which monitors Apple’s e-commerce site regularly, says the site was likely down because of a large influx of traffic. Some company employees also noticed that the form for consumers to request more information about the iPhone also was not loading.
However, Apple says that it is not unusual for the site to go down during a product launch and that this happens often when products are launched or updated. Apple would not comment further.
Meanwhile, some that follow Apple carefully say the move is a marketing gimmick used by the retailer to generate buzz.
"That Apple does this every time they are about to release something new has been happening for a long time. It almost always signals something new, or a product update," says Peter Alguacil of web monitoring firm Pingdom. He says it`s subtle signal to Apple aficianados that something exciting is happening, and cites past examples where Apple took down its retail site right before major changes to the iPod and iPod Touch, and before the release of the Mackbook Air laptop.
"Whenever the Apple Store goes down, Apple fans start speculating about what new things will come," Alguacil says. "There really are no technical reasons why you would have to shut down the store for hours to do a product update on the website--imagine the dilemma for Amazon if that was the case. So we’re quite convinced that it’s intentional. It’s a pretty smart marketing move, although maybe a bit counter-intuitive since they are bound to lose a certain amount of sales. But if they don’t do it during daytime, fewer will notice and talk about it."