Apple’s fans placed more than half a million pre-orders for the new iPhone 4 yesterday, despite technical problems that made it difficult for some customers to access the Apple website or complete their transaction, according to numerous sources.
Apple said that the 600,000 requests placed were the largest number of pre-orders that it had received in a single day for any device.
The new iPhone boasts a host of new features, including multitasking, an improved camera with flash, crisper, sharper display, longer battery life and fast processor.
It also has a new, industrial design, with the smooth, curved lines of the iPhone 3GS making way for a more substantial-feeling device made from glass and stainless steel.
Hundreds of people reported problems with the pre-order process. The Apple website in the US appealed to buckle under the surge in traffic, while some shoppers were seemingly able to place their pre-order by adding the iPhone 4 to their virtual basket, only for the transaction to fail when they attempted to complete their purchase.
“The number of pre-orders for iPhone 4 were far higher than we anticipated,” said Apple in a statement. “Many customers were turned away or abandoned the pre-order process in frustration. We apologise to everyone who encountered difficulties, and hope that they will try again or visit an Apple or carrier partner store once the iPhone 4 is in stock.”
The problems marked another headache for AT&T, the exclusive iPhone carrier in the US, 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.
Yeasterday, we said that 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.
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 unlocked iPhone 4 16GB model costs £499, while the 32GB version costs £599. The device is available in a choice of black or white, although Apple is not yet taking pre-orders for the white model.
The iPhone 4, which starts at $199, comes out in the U.S. on June 24 (now July 2nd). 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 Insider and NY Times]