Apple and AT&T Overwhelmed by iPhone 4 Pre-Orders

Customers trying to reserve the latest version of the iPhone were thwarted by technical glitches that hindered sales on Tuesday, the first day of pre-orders before the device hits stores on June 24.

People stand in a long line in front of an Apple store which takes pre-orders ahead of the June 24 launch of iPhone 4 in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district Tuesday, June 15, 2010. Customers were instructed to submit reservations online with Softbank Mobile Corp., the iPhone's exclusive carrier in Japan, or at any of its retail outlets. Photo: Reuters

Apple Inc. and AT&T Inc., which began taking preorders for a new version of the Apple’s iPhone today, iPhone 4,  are struggling to handle demand at their retail and online outlets, according to customer reports on AppleInsider.com, Engadget.com and Gizmodo.com

AT&T customers reported seeing account information of other subscribers while trying to buy the new iPhone, a spokesman for the company said. Technical errors also prevented some customers from pre-ordering the device using Apple’s and AT&T websites.

Frustrated by website problems, customers lined up outside some stores to ask AT&T, the exclusive U.S. iPhone provider, to manually process orders.

The problems marked another headache for AT&T, which last week said some iPad users had their personal information exposed via a network security flaw. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has opened a probe into the alleged breach.

At Apple stores in San Francisco and New York, the staff recommended that customers try ordering the device from Apple’s website later today or tomorrow. Some calls to Apple’s customer- service line also aren’t getting through because of high volume.

People stand in a long line in front of an Apple store which takes pre-orders ahead of the June 24 launch of iPhone 4 in New York, USA Tuesday, June 15, 2010. Customers were instructed to submit reservations online with AT&T., the iPhone's exclusive carrier in USA. Photo: Gizmodo

AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said the company had received privacy complaints but it wasn’t clear what information customers had seen because it had not been able to replicate the issue.

He said: “We’ve received reports of customers inadvertently seeing (other customers’) account information during the iPhone 4 purchasing process”. He added customers could not have seen social security numbers, credit card data or call records. He said the company was still investigating.

AT&T said in a statement that people who preordered on Tuesday afternoon would receive their new phones on June 25 or later. It said devices would be available on a first-come, first-serve basis in stores from June 24.

“Because of the incredible interest in iPhone 4, today was the busiest online sales day in AT&T history,” the company said in a statement.

An attempt by to pre-order the phone on AT&T’s website generated the following error message: “There was a problem with your request. “We’re sorry, but we are experiencing a system error that prevents us from completing your request.”

Apple’s website said the request could not be processed, and it suggested the customer try again later. Apple did not respond to questions about the website issues that provoked complaints by customers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

"This is a really long line, but I guess we need to stand in it to get an iPhone 4," customer said. "It's like Disneyland." Photo: Apple

Japan is already wild for Apple’s latest iPhone. Pre-orders began Tuesday at 5 p.m., and the early rush for the iPhone 4 led to long lines around Tokyo and overwhelmed computer servers struggling to keep up with demand.

Customers were instructed to submit reservations online with Softbank Mobile Corp., the iPhone’s exclusive carrier in Japan, or at any of its retail outlets. Japan’s seven Apple Stores were also taking pre-orders ahead of the June 24 launch.

Steve Nagata, a Japan-based tech consultant and Apple enthusiast, said Tuesday evening that he had been standing in line for more than two hours and expected to be there another hour.

He spent part of his time broadcasting the lively scene on the website Ustream. “This is just showing how out of control this is getting,” said Nagata, who owns both the iPhone 3G and 3GS. “It’s just going to be a huge launch.”

Megumi Kawanishi stood outside Bic Camera for more than an hour to grab a spot in Wednesday’s pre-order line. The 24-year-old said she decided to make the switch to an iPhone after more than a decade with NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest carrier.

Kawanishi said she likes the iPhone’s Internet capabilities, which would come in handy during overseas trips. “This is a really long line, but I guess we need to stand in it to get an iPhone,” she said. “It’s like Disneyland.”

We would remind you that Apple’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs unveiled the 4th-generation iPhone earlier this month, showing off a thinner smartphone with a sharper screen that can make video calls. The iPhone has become Apple’s top-selling product, accounting for 40 percent of revenue last quarter.

“We expect pre-sale activity to be very strong for the new iPhone,” Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays Capital in New York, said in a report today. He expects the company to sell 8.1 million iPhones this quarter, which ends June 26.

The iPhone 4, which starts at $199, comes out in the U.S. on June 24. That price requires a two-year service contract with AT&T, the device’s exclusive carrier in the U.S.

The iPhone 4 comes to market as Apple faces mounting competition from Google Inc., whose Android mobile-operating software runs handsets from HTC Corp. and Motorola Inc. [via Business Week and Gizmodo]

Share this article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.