June 16, 2010 in Business

Apple, AT&T get record number of iPhone orders

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

June 15, 2010, was the first day Apple and AT&T started taking orders for the new Apple iPhone 4. A day later AT&T stopped taking orders to focus on fulfilling those already received.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK — Apple Inc. said Wednesday that it and its phone company partners took orders for more than 600,000 iPhone 4s in one day, the highest number it’s ever seen, despite widespread problems getting orders through overwhelmed computer systems.

The crush of orders sets the scene for long lines and potential chaos at stores when the phone is released on June 24.

Apple and its partners started taking orders for the iPhone 4 on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, AT&T Inc., the exclusive carrier in the U.S., had stopped taking orders, saying it had to focus on fulfilling orders already received.

At midday Wednesday, Apple was accepting orders only for black models, and would only guarantee shipment by July 2. The white model was unavailable for pre-order.

Dallas-based AT&T said it received ten times as many pre-launch orders on the first day for the new iPhone model as it did for the previous model last year.

AT&T also said it logged more than 13 million visits to a Web page where current customers can check if they’re eligible for a subsidized upgrade to the new phone. That number was three times higher than the previous record for upgrade checks.

The price of the phone starts at $199. Customers who aren’t eligible for upgrades will pay $200 more.

Last year, Apple sold more than a million units of the new model, the 3GS, in the first three days. It was the most successful debut for a smart phone yet, and Apple struggled to keep it in stock for months.

The iPhone 4 will feature a higher-resolution screen, longer battery life, dual cameras and a thinner design than last year’s model.

Tuesday’s pre-ordering was marred by two major problems: Buyers reported problems registering their orders and an apparent glitch in AT&T’s website was steering some customers into strangers’ accounts.

Customers who tried to buy an iPhone 4 on Tuesday said they were met with error messages on the company websites, and lines formed in stores as clerks tried to get orders into their systems.

“Many customers were turned away or abandoned the process in frustration. We apologize to everyone who encountered difficulties,” Apple said in a statement Wednesday.

On Gizmodo.com, a technology website, several readers posted stories of trying to log into their AT&T accounts to upgrade to the newest iPhone and being sent instead into strangers’ accounts. That could set the stage for identity theft scams such as ordering other products under that person’s name.

AT&T said it received reports of customers seeing the wrong account information but wasn’t able to replicate the problem and was investigating. But the company said the personal information users were seeing in one another’s accounts didn’t include Social Security numbers, credit card information or detailed call logs.

Just last week, AT&T plugged an embarrassing security hole on its website that exposed the e-mail addresses of people who had bought another new Apple product, the iPad.

Apple shares rose $6.24, or 2.4 percent, to $265.93 in midday trading. AT&T shares fell 4 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $25.50.

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