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June 16, 2010

IPhone -Frenzied Customer Demand for iPhone Preorders Overwhelms AT&T's, Apple's Own Technology


Apple and AT&T (News - Alert) were so overwhelmed by a frenzy of preorders for the newest version of the iPhone that potential customers were unable to get through to busy call centers, computers timed out, and servers even melted down forcing orders to be written by hand with pen and paper, news services were reporting Tuesday.
Tuesday marked the first day that Apple (News - Alert) Inc. and AT&T Inc., began taking preorders for the fourth version of the iPhone, which is scheduled to go on sale on June 24.
Bloomberg (News - Alert) News reported that at Apple stores in San Francisco and New York the staff recommended to frustrated customers they try ordering the device from Apple’s website either later in the day on Tuesday or on Wednesday.
Bloomberg also reported that some calls to Apple’s customer-service line weren’t getting through because of the high volume.
"Thank you for calling Apple," a recorded voice told callers Tuesday morning, reported AppleInsider. "Due to extremely high call volumes, we are unable to answer your call at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please try your call again later. We appreciate your business and look forward to serving you in the future."
Problems also arose on Apple's website with an eligibility check for current AT&T customers, according to AppleInsider. Many consumers who tried to preorder the phone on Tuesday morning wound up with a screen that said, "Your request couldn't be processed. We're sorry, but there was an error processing your request. Please try again later," AppleInsider reported.
Server problems also led to crashes for the new Apple Store application for the iPhone (News - Alert), iPod touch and iPad, AppleInsider reported. The software was released on Tuesday, and was supposed to be an application that would allow users to preorder iPhone 4 from their current iPhone, AppleInsider reported.
The iPhone 4 is the thinnest smartphone ever with all-new design, FaceTime (News - Alert) video calling, Retina display, 5 megapixel camera and HD video recording. It will be available for a suggested retail price of $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for the 32GB model. AT&T is the device’s exclusive carrier in the United States.
AppleInsider reported that despite server meltdowns, AT&T managed to sell through its allotment of preorders by late afternoon on Tuesday.
"Because of the incredible interest in iPhone 4, today was the busiest online sales day in AT&T history," said a statement released by AT&T, according to AppleInsider. "As of Tuesday afternoon, customers who preorder iPhone 4 moving forward will receive their device on June 25 or later, depending on when the order is placed."
AT&T added that it will email customers once their order is placed, and again when it ships, according to AppleInsider. AT&T says it will have a limited number of devices available on a first-come, first-serve basis in its retail stores beginning on June 24, AppleInsider said.
In addition, as technology failed trying to meet customer demand Tuesday, some AT&T stores around the country switched to a pen-and-paper reservation method, according to Gizmodo. The tech news site reported that AT&T servers were so collapsed that computers at the retail stores were disabled. Stores were taking preorders by imprinting credit cards and recording names and phone numbers in the receipts, Gizmodo said.
Meanwhile, Best Buy was asked by Apple to stop all preorders for white models late on Tuesday afternoon, according to Gizmodo.
The iPhone has become Apple’s top-selling product, representing 40 percent of company revenue during the last quarter. Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays Capital in New York, expects Apple to sell 8.1 million iPhones during the second quarter, which ends June 26, Bloomberg reported.

Ed Silverstein is a contributing editor for TMCnet's InfoTech Spotlight. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
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