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Photos: iPhone 3G launch shambles!

We came, we waited. We took pictures and then we waited some more. Would we see the first iPhone 3G owner emerge triumphantly from the queue?

It was the moment Apple lovers around the world had been waiting for: the chance to buy their very own iPhone 3G. We went along this morning to the Apple store on Regent Street to see if the queuing could compare to last year's mania.

How would it measure up? Would there be crazed lunatics, biting all their fingernails off in anticipation? Would the iPhone 3G be 'better than sex', as one original iPhone owner described the handset last year? Click through to the next page if you want to see what happened to this seemingly happy line of people. -Andrew Lim

This is what happens when you mess with a tired Apple fan -- you get hit with a pillow. As you can see by the expression of the guy on the right, this was an intense battle.

It wasn't too long before things started to go badly. A massive group of London's finest trotted past the Regent Street store on horses, depositing an ambience-enhancing load of manure on the pavement. You couldn't write this stuff.

Having waited for hours, the eager iPhone fans kept their eyes open with cappuccinos as they bided time before the store's opening. They were so close, and yet so far away.

Our intrepid reporter Nate Lanxon interviewed the first guy in the queue. He'd bought his place off a guy who had sold his spot on eBay -- who did give some of the earnings to charity. In hindsight, we wonder if he knew it was all going to go bad before anyone else. Clever move, eBay man.

There it is! The phone they'd been literally waiting for, almost within reach!

Meanwhile, never a team to miss out on cake, Nate and video producer Ash enjoy some cupcakey sustenance from the Cloud. The service provides more than baked goods: it specialises in Wi-Fi hotspots around the country, which you can use with your iPhone 3G.

At last! Apple opened the doors and let everyone in with the traditional clapping and whooping. Up the stairs they went, climbing the stairway to iPhone 3G heaven -- or so they thought.

We prepared our cameras to catch the first iPhone 3G owner's triumphant bound down the stairs. An hour went by and we realised something had gone terribly wrong. People started coming out empty handed, including one guy who explained to us that there was a problem with the activation system. Apparently, O2's side of things worked using Microsoft's Internet Explorer, which doesn't come as standard on the Apple store's Macs.

Understandably, these two guys were rather bemused by the whole affair. They'd been queuing for some time and didn't want to stick around to see if Apple fixed the problem. Plus, Apple didn't offer to reserve these two chaps an iPhone 3G, either. We waited for as long as we could until dejectedly returning to Crave Towers. We didn't even see the first iPhone 3G owner's jubilant -- or in this case, perhaps relieved -- face. What have we learned today, children? Test the system before you sell stuff with it. Let us know your experience in comments or on our iPhone 3G forum.