(Head Honcho)
06/16/10 02:53 AM
iPhone 4 ordering, what went wrong

Were you able to order an iPhone 4 today? If you're out there, we want to hear from you. From our vantage point, it's been a disaster. Maybe the iPhone 4 is cursed; first we have the Gizmodo iPhone 4 left in a bar fiasco that turned ugly with journalist house raids and opinions for and against Apple. then we have network failures at WWDC for the iPhone 4 announcement and demo so Steve Jobs had a hard time showing off the most cool features of this inherently online device.

And now? AT&T's system buckled and they resorted to pen and paper orders. Despite that, they were already sold out on the afternoon of the first day one could pre-order this mythic phone. And there are rumors of security issues with AT&T's online system too-- Gizmodo claims that readers have sent in tips that they logged into their account only to see someone else's account data.

Apple's system has been a shambles since 5:30am, and it seems impossible to get an order to go through on Apple's website. We've been trying all day using computer web browsers and Apple's new Apple Store app on the iPhone. Absolutely no luck.

How about calling Apple's 800 sales number? Nope, all day long it's a prerecorded message stating that due to unprecedented call volume they can't handle your order, so please call back.

Ah-ha, why not just go to an Apple store (if there's one close enough). Nope, the store reps told us they're at the mercy of the same order system that's failing us on and they can't take orders.

That leaves Best Buy and Radio Shack. If you weren't there in the morning, you're out of luck too. The Best Buy stores in our area already have loonnngg pre-order lists (at least they don't have to use Apple and AT&T's system) since AT&T and Apple can't handle the orders. So you likely won't get one on launch day. Radio Shack? The ones in our area faced the same pre-order flock and most said they only expected 8 to 10 phone on the 24th.

Given the silky smooth order and fulfillment process for the iPhone 3GS, this mess comes as a shock. Is it the simultaneous international pre-orders that gummed up the works? It is AT&T moving up upgrade eligibility so there's uprecedented demand?

It's 9pm EST here in the US and both Apple's web site and phone ordering line are still down for the count. How about you, were you lucky enough to get an order through today?

Update early the next morning: Apple too has sold out of pre-orders and their site states that you won't get an iPhone 4 until July 2. Time to wait in extremely long lines at your local Apple or AT&T store on launch day if you really want one ASAP and didn't win the pre-order lottery. Apple has yet to release a statement as to what went wrong with their order system and inventory projections.


(junior member)
06/16/10 03:20 AM
Re: iPhone 4 ordering, what went wrong

I must have been lucky. Sort of. I live on the East coast and was trying the website sometime between midnight and 1am, but it looked like they were in the process of making the switchover with the "updating site" message. So I went to bed.

So then I was awake at 530am and decided to give it a shot. I was able to get as far as the AT&T verification screen. It sat and ran, and ran, and ran, and ran.....I let it continue. I went to the bathroom. I ate a bagel. I came back and the same screen was up with the continuous circular "waiting" icon spinning away. I opened another browser and tried another order and immediately got an "OOOOPS..." page ON THE APPLE STORE site! That's their version of an HTTP error, I suppose. I have a screen shot of it because it's pretty funny, but don't see a way to post that here.

My other browser was still in that infinite waiting loop. I went back to bed.

At 730am I woke up and that waiting screen was still there, with the circle continuing to spin. No timeout error, nothing. So I closed all browsers and started fresh.

CA-CHING! It worked and the overall performance and time to place my pre-order was within 5 minutes total. I have an email confirmation for my in-store pickup reservation on 6/24. I checked the various news sites and blogs throughout the day and it appears that, as the country began waking up from East to West, the site continued to choke harder and harder. I must have been one of the lucky ones.

(Head Honcho)
06/16/10 03:33 AM
Re: iPhone 4 ordering, what went wrong

Thanks for sharing! I think you dedicated early rising east coast folks had the right plan (interspersed with bagel and bathroom breaks). It's heartening to hear that you were finally able to place your order

Tong Zhang
(Senior Editor)
06/16/10 03:53 AM
Re: iPhone 4 ordering, what went wrong

You are definitely lucky!

I called Apple on the phone this morning to place an order, got a message saying they are overwhelmed with calls and I should call back later. So I went on their web site to place the order, I went as far as verifying my AT&T account, then got an error and the order couldn't go through. I repeated above several times, same result.

So I went to AT&T web site to place the order, got to a page that says they are sorry, the order couldn't be processed. So I called AT&T sales on the phone. First I got a very nice lady who said she got calls from people who wanted to pre-order the iPhone 4 and the Apple internal system is down. She then said that they told her the system would go back online within an hour. She even offered to call me back in an hour to take my order. She did call back and said the system was back online, call the Apple support number. I was excited and made the call, got the same we are overwhelmed message as before and asked me to call back later.

Waited for a couple of hours, repeated step one which is contacting Apple, no luck. Repeated step two, which is contacting AT&T. Got another very nice lady on the phone, she said we had handled 30 or so people wanting to pre-order the iPhone 4 and she checked with Apple system and it was still down. She said you might want to try tomorrow or go to a local AT&T store.

Checked online, various web sites said that since the AT&T retail stores are using the same system as the reps on the phone, they couldn't place any orders to Apple either, but at least they are taking your order info down on paper. Wow! We are back to the old analog. Didn't go.

Called our local Apple store and the rep said that some folks had success with the new Apple Store app on the iPhone: folks kept trying ordering using their iPhone via the app and some orders actually went through. So I downloaded the app, tried placing an order, got a message saying they can't place the order, and I should make an appointment with an Apple sales associate at the store or call Apple or go online which essentially goes back my first step.

After trying many more times from step 1 through 3, I gave up.

See how lucky you are?

(Moderator and writer)
06/16/10 02:12 PM
Re: iPhone 4 ordering, what went wrong

Brighthand has posted their take on this debacle.

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