By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
October 4, 2009

UPDATE: On Thursday Oct. 8 Apple issued iPhone OS 3.1.2, an update that promises to address several of the glitches described below. Among other things, according to Apple, the update:

  • Resolves sporadic issue that may cause iPhone to not wake from sleep
  • Resolves intermittent issue that may interrupt cellular network services until restart
  • Fixes bug that could cause occasional crash during video streaming

Let us know if this clears things up.

– – – –

“OK, I updated last night without a hitch,” wrote Headers22, an iPhone owner from southwestern Missouri, on an Apple (AAPL) discussion board last month. “But now I get random complete shut downs. It has happened twice. In both instances the phone has come back after doing a hard reboot. Anyone else having this problem?”

Apparently some other iPhone owners were having that problem — and more.

Headers22 started the topic Mysterious random total shut downs following 3.1 update on Sept. 10, the day after Apple released iPhone OS 3.1. Less than four weeks later, the topic has filled 128 pages, drawn 1,023 replies and been viewed more than 177,000 times.

Although dozens of folk-remedies and at least one Genius Bar solution have been posted (see below), nobody representing Apple has responded to the hundreds of complaints.

Nor has anyone from the company answered the questions posted in several similar topics:

Given that there are more than 30 million iPhones out there, and roughly a quarter of them have been updated to OS 3.1, it’s likely that there are far more iPhone owners who aren’t experiencing these problems.

But given the numbers of customers involved, and the bad PR they can generate, you might think Apple would step up and offer them a solution — especially if there is one.

“I just got back from the Apple store in the University District in Seattle,” wrote “Broken iPhone” on Oct. 3. “My iPhone 3G had been locking and battery was draining consistent with what everyone else has been reporting…

“The Apple “genius” said that people have been coming in for weeks with the same problem. He acknowledged that there was a big problem with the 3.1 upgrade and that the way to fix it was for them to do a “low level firmware” reinstall. It took them about 30 mins to do the reinstall (could have been because there was a line of people waiting for the same thing to be done for their phones). Since the reinstall my phone seems to be fine.”

The Apple blogs are filled with chatter about the new iMacs, new MacBooks, new Minis and new mice that are said to be coming in a matter of weeks. Would it be too much to ask Apple to clean up its old messes before it creates a bunch of new ones?

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