Flipboard's service collapses on iPhone app launch

Rush for popular make-your-own-magazine app overwhelms servers

Flipboard error message
Flipboard's servers couldn't handle the volume of new users as its first iPhone app launched today.

Flipboard shipped its first iPhone app earlier today, but within hours the company acknowledged that its service was down, overwhelmed by demand.

The Flipboard app, available on the iOS App Store since early Wednesday, can be downloaded and installed, but for the moment it won't connect to the Palo Alto, Calif. company's servers.

Instead, the message, "Couldn't build your Flipboard. Please check your Internet connection and try again" appears on the iPhone screen.

Flipboard confirmed that the error was not on the user's end.

"Due to high demand, our service is currently down," the company said on its Twitter account at 11:30 a.m. ET. "We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience."

Users who had been running Flipboard prior to today are not experiencing problems, a Flipboard spokeswoman said in response to questions.

"[But] new users who want to create an account may not always be able to do this immediately," she said.

Flipboard builds a customized digital "magazine" from a user's selected online publications, Twitter, Facebook updates and RSS feeds.

An iPad version of the app has been available since mid-2010.

According to a spring 2011 poll conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute, Flipboard was then the seventh-most-used iPad app, with 7% of the more than 560 respondents putting it in their top three.

Flipboard for the iPhone and iPod Touch can be downloaded free of charge from Apple's App Store.

The app requires iOS 4 or later.

Flipboard did not immediately respond to questions, including an estimate of when service would be restored.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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