By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
September 12, 2014

Customers who set their alarms early Friday morning to pre-order Apple’s new iPhones ran into the Internet equivalent of a rush-hour traffic jam.

Apple’s own online store went down almost immediately under the crush of demand, according to several reports. When it came back up two hours later its carrier partners were often too busy to process orders. By sunrise in Cupertino, shipping times at AT&T, Verizon and Sprint had slipped to one or two weeks for the iPhone 6 and three to four weeks for the iPhone 6 Plus.

There were similar reports from Australia and the U.K.

Was the issue was too much demand or insufficient supply? It amounts to the same thing. Apple is simply making them as fast as it can. There’s only so much production capacity.

Some of that product, remember, has to be set aside to serve the customers who can be depended on to queue up outside its retail stores for the official launch date, set this year for Sept. 19 at 8:00 a.m. local time. Professional line sitters have been camped out at Apple’s New York City Fifth Avenue store for more than a week.

Tim Cook told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that the new iPhones would trigger “the mother of all upgrades.” Sources in Apple’s Asian supply chain report that the company has ordered enough parts to ship 80 million iPhones by the end of the year. Others are reporting that Apple has booked every air cargo flight out of China for the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, Gazelle and other electronic resellers are chalking up a record surge of trade-ins — not just of older-model iPhones, but Samsung Android phones as well.

But the patience of the Apple faithful for these midnight meltdowns may be running thin. Consider, for example, the pungent collection of one-liners culled from Twitter by The Verge‘s Tom Warren.

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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