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Is the Web in the Way of Your iPhone 4 Pre-Order?

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Since I left AT&T and my iPhone a few months ago, I’m not doing with the pre-order dance today, but it seems that many are. And it doesn’t appear to be a happy dance, based on the stream of negative tweets that are filling up my Twitter stream. Problems are ranging from gateway time-outs to messages that the pre-order couldn’t be processed. It’s yet another example of the difference in customer experience between AT&T (s t) and Apple (s aapl). Here’s a small representation of what I’m seeing — the cleaner language tweets, if you will:

  • ravenme: “My life is exactly like the iPhone 4 pre-order process right now. Too many requests and I am overloaded and unable to respond.”
  • alexlindsay: “Instead of crashing out, Apple’s new store app should just say-AT&Ts lame servers simply can’t handle demand for the new iphone!”
  • dmoren: “Look, everybody be fair. It’s not like AT&T’s ever dealt with an iPhone launch bef—whoops.”
  • CaliLewis: “This iPhone 4 pre order process failure feels awfully familiar. Good thing we’re not all stuck in the store this time, though.”

It really amazes me that AT&T — and even Apple, for that matter — is unable to handle the load of pre-orders. This is the fourth iPhone model in as many years that AT&T has offered the device and it’s the fourth year in a row that servers are buckling under the data load — something that is a core business for the carrier. In fairness, Apple’s store is also kicking back messages saying that orders can’t currently be processed.

Like I said, I’m not pre-ordering, but I’m sure many of you are. How is the experience going for you?

30 Responses to “Is the Web in the Way of Your iPhone 4 Pre-Order?”

  1. Here’s a thought…
    Wait a couple of months… walk into an apple store and buy one!
    I love my iPhone 3G and I will love my iPhone 4 when I get it (nice X-mas gift I think)… but most of you appear to be getting way too upset over nothing more than the fact that Apple and AT&T are getting in the way of your bragging rights.

  2. Fernando

    Well, since I want to white version, it appears I have to wait anyway. Apple did the same thing (allowed orders for the white ones only several weeks after launching) when they launched the 3GS. What’s up with that?

  3. i go to apple. type in my information. it goes through. i select my phone. select my data plan for the online usage whatever… it thinks for a while, and then simply states “your order could not be completed online, please visit an apple store to finish your order.” but gives me no information as to why this process is not going through. ANY INSIGHT?? i do not live near an apple store, and do not really understand the issue, since i am an att&t customer, eligible for an upgrade, and looking to buy my first iphone (of which we have two others (3G) on our phone account. i have tried numerous times and find this to be extremely strenuous and confusing.

  4. Apple Insider

    Yep demand was huge across the board (aka EVERYWHERE):
    AT&T Store – Busiest OnLine day in the history of ATT
    Best Buy – Sold Out
    Apple Store – Most Sold Out
    Radio Shack – Sold Out (only allocated 100,000)

    Looks like demand for the 4 is extremely high and another winner for Apple.

    If I was The Apple I would make 2 additional iPhones:

    1 – iPhone 4 Mini (smaller form factor and special apps and restrictions for KIDS)

    2 – iPhone XL (large 4.3″ form factor for those that just gotta have it and can’t stand the EVO or HD2)

    That would make 3 new models and of course they need to double-up or triple-up on the volume sent to resellers on day one and increase the network bandwidth and server farm.

    Word to STEVE: Quit making your loyal customers frustrated, we can only take so much of this unnecessary nonsense.

  5. JoeInsider

    Just pre-ordered on AT&T website–I’ve been trying on Apple and ATT since 1am PST and then started again at 7:30 PST. Finally got to order confirmation page at 11:30 PST. I just sold an old digital camera, an old iPod, my Flip HD video camera and traded in my old iPhone to pay for the 32G–and came out ahead. The 4 makes all of these extinct.

  6. I had similar issues as everyone else and ended up going to the Apple store (which didn’t help).

    The one recommendation that did work was to download the new Apple Store app on my iPhone. You can then go through the registration process through that application as it apparently is going through a different server. The App Store reservation went through right away and I got a follow up email as well. The only catch is you have to pick up the phone next Thursday in the store.

  7. I kind of want to kill myself right now. I seriously don’t understand how these two bozo companies can’t get their sh*t together on the 4th go around. Unbelievable. Oh and they don’t offer the white one during pre order?? What the? Not that I want a white one… it’s just that I don’t get it. It makes no sense.

  8. Over here in the UK, after a three successive store outages, my first attempt threw back the “order cannot be processed” message, but got through on my second try. No AT&T (or any network) involved, so that had to be a pure Apple issue.

  9. Absolute fail! Ive been trying to preorder for the last 3 1/2 hours. Each time I get some kind of failure notice.. Yep, same thing as before, come on Apple/ATT.. didn’t you expect this? I suppose Apple probably likes to boast.. “Our iPhone is so awesome that we crashed servers all day long trying to keep up.” The same way they like to boast they have 1/4 million apps. when about 60% of them are suck awesome things like a white screen to use as a flashlight and an all black screen to use as a “mirror”!

  10. Scotty

    Just playing “what if” with the pre-order process seems to put one in the middle of the melt down. All I’ve been doing is picking a phone and working my way through plans and seeing the servers crash repeatedly.

    Just like their overloaded network. Some folks say “what overloaded network?” and others say “they are spawn of satan and should be treated as such!”

    I’m so glad I got an EVO 4G, but I can still look right? ;-)

  11. Wang Hung Lo

    I suspect millions of people stayed up late last night to jam their pre-order thru the system. Looks like it all clogged up.
    This is actually a good sign off pent-up demand.


    Remember no EFT for all customers who expire anytime this year. The rush is on.

  12. Tried Apple and AT&T sites. Kept timing out when it checked my account for eligibility – so it almost has to be AT&T at this point. Shocker.

    However, when I scheduled it through the Apple Store app on my existing iPhone, it took all of ~4 min start to finish including time to download and install the app. So that’s nice.

  13. i have been tying to pre-order since 8 am this morning its 12:30 now im 10 minutes a way from giving out and going to pick up a verizon phone if this how u start i dont wont this kind of service shame shame for APPLE

    sucks !!!

  14. downdurnst

    The AT&T gods must be smiling on me today — woke up at 4AM PST (my usual time), got a cup of coffee, wandered over to the laptop, signed on to my AT&T account, and 5 minutes later had the pre-order done. Was the easiest experience possible.

    However, everyone here at work who’s trying to order have been continuously frustrated, with only one of the 5 or 6 people trying getting through.

    • lol I tried to do that, but it would mean getting up at 5:25am (5 minutes to get my heart beating) on the 2nd day of my summer vacation, just wasn’t gonna happen…

  15. NoNewPhoneYet

    So I have gotten to the authorization check multiple times, entered SS#, then it bombs. Is my credit getting hit each time because of their bad servers???

  16. NeoteriX

    The real question is, despite the obvious foreseeability, why AT&T, Sprint (or the New York Bar Examiner’s Office, I’m looking at you) would bother to spend the significant $$$ to drastically improve the capacity of their servers for a blip overload that happens, predictably, only once a year.

    …especially for a captive audience that despite their bellyaching, will not switch providers even with the bad service. (Let’s face it, if you’re a day1 pre-orderer you’ve already convinced yourself you’re going to get it).

  17. iphoneless

    yah its att not verifying eligibility, i want to order an in-store pickup which is why im ordering from apple. it doesnt go thru though. im taking a preorder break and getting food and a haircut then gonna try again. but this is beyond disappointing.

  18. Actually, have you tried logging into your AT&T account from the AT&T website? You can’t even get to the logon screen. Upon visiting their site, you receive a message that states: “Online access for Wireless and U-verse accounts is temporarily unavailable. We are currently upgrading our online account system and it is temporarily unavailable…..” So I believe it is more of an AT&T issue than it being Apples problem.

  19. I waited for 1hr 45min on the phone with apple store. Got thru, they couldn’t do anything for me. Went to Radio Shack. In 5 minutes, manager took my info. Said Radio Shack was not doing $50.00 pre-orders, but doing first come, first serve starting at 1:00pm est. You get a PIN number which relates to you not having to stand in line come Jan 24.

  20. There’s no indication that AT&T has the slightest involvement with the problems being seen here, it seems to be all Apple. The online store repeatedly shows an unspecified error at various points (early) in the process; the new “Apple Store” app simply crashes every time.

    • The Apple Store repeatedly fails for me when it says retrieving data from AT&T. One of the two times I made it to the next step, it said the zip didn’t match the AT&T account. So I’d definitely pin a portion of this on AT&T.