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AT&T, Apple servers already buckling under iPhone 4 customer load? [updated x5]

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Tuesday, June 15, 2010
News Categories: iPhone

Less than half an hour after the start of iPhone 4 pre-orders, the processing system used by Apple and AT&T to sign up new customers for iPhone data plans appears to be experiencing order-stopping technical issues. Though existing line orders for the iPhone 4 appeared to be working, attempts to use Apple’s “buyiphone.apple.com” pages to sign up for new service are stalling, producing an endlessly spinning gear with the message, “Please wait while we process your request,” and/or “session expired” notices claiming a timeout on the user’s side due to inactivity.

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It remains to be seen whether these ordering problems are merely a brief early hiccup, or a repeat of past AT&T account issues that marred past iPhone launches with extended service activation delays.

Update: Problems continue an hour and fifteen minutes after the start of pre-ordering and appear not to be limited to new customers, or even just U.S. customers. Unusual Apple Store errors are appearing when attempting to pre-order iPhone hardware from the United Kingdom, and readers with existing AT&T accounts are also reporting timeouts when attempting to order the iPhone 4 from Apple’s web site.

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Update 2: Nearly two hours into pre-ordering, the Apple Store’s prior timeout and spinning gear errors have now been joined by a generic “oops” error that appears when attempting to place the iPhone 4 in a cart for online ordering and at-home delivery. Apple currently appears to be falling back to a semi-working system that offers reservations for in-store pickups as an alternative to the still-problematic online ordering system.

Update 3: Apple has taken the Store offline in an apparent attempt to resolve the ordering problems. AT&T’s web site was, as of several minutes ago, processing iPhone 4 orders properly for existing customers but not yet taking orders from new customers. Like Apple, AT&T was accepting orders only for black iPhone 4 models without an option for white ones. As of now, AT&T’s site is down with a “currently doing maintenance” message.

Update 4: Both Apple’s and AT&T’s pre-order sites have returned. Reports from readers indicate that some AT&T iPhone 4 orders were abruptly cancelled for reasons unknown; we’d advise checking your e-mail account for cancellation notices in the event that you ordered from AT&T earlier this morning.

Update 5: Five hours after pre-orders started, both Apple’s and AT&T’s web sites are continuing to experience major service interruptions and order processing failures. We’ll update this story again when the problems are resolved.

« iPhone 4 Bumpers, Dock, Dock Adapters ship June 24 to July 2

iPhone 4, 8GB iPhone 3GS pre-orders open, minus white [updated] »

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Comments

21

Sorry but FAIL for Apple. 4 hours and still can’t get it right.

Posted by mz on June 15, 2010 at 5:11 AM (PDT)

22

Apple, are you kidding me?  At least take your store off-line until you REALLY DO fix your problems and stop wasting your customers’ time.

Posted by dg on June 15, 2010 at 6:19 AM (PDT)

23

This is really not Apple’s fault - their site seems to be just fine.  But Apple has to interface with AT&T’s database for eligibility, phone plans, etc.  That is where the issue is.  AT&T’s servers seem to work about as well as their 3G network…

Posted by ed on June 15, 2010 at 6:30 AM (PDT)

24

The problem may or may not be Apple’s fault, but Apple’s site is not “just fine.”  The ordering process crashes or hangs or aborts before it even tries to access the AT&T accounts.  It is completely arrogant of Apple to continue to allow access to an ordering process that is clearly broken.  Can’t the “most valuable technology company in the world” even test properly?  Or do they just not care?

Posted by dg on June 15, 2010 at 6:41 AM (PDT)

25

I don’t think it’s just AT&T’s site, I got booted at just about every part of the process, not just checking eligibility.

Even though I did not want the white iPhone, I am a bit upset that it was not available. This has not happened before, I wonder what the issue is.

I finally was about to send Apple $300 after 4 hours of trying.

Posted by Nick on June 15, 2010 at 7:15 AM (PDT)

26

I get through the entire process, which takes like 20 minutes on ATT’s site (after 30 trying to get apples to work) up to the final submit, only to have it fail and lose ALL of the form info and have to start over.

Wtf?  Don’t these guys at ATT prepare anything right?

Once you are in it should work, period.  ATT get your act together and stop wasting our time! :D

Posted by SantiagoDraco on June 15, 2010 at 7:25 AM (PDT)

27

Your request couldn’t be processed.

We’re sorry, but there was an error processing your request. Please try again later.

What a total joke, almost 7 hours and this is all they can give me. Give me a break, Apple cares about as much as BP does.

Posted by "Oops...there was an error" on June 15, 2010 at 7:27 AM (PDT)

28

I haven’t had as many issues with the Apple site. It is much slower but it doesn’t really error out for me until It goes to verify my eligibility. I’m sure for that it has to contact AT&T. So I’m sure the majority of the problem is on the AT&T side. How surprising!

Posted by Johnny L on June 15, 2010 at 7:37 AM (PDT)

29

I wonder how much the introduction of the new Apple Store app for iPhone has effected the situation. Maybe it hasn’t increased the load significantly, but it seems that Apple would try to avoid something such as this given the iPhone 3G/MobileMe launch distaster of a couple of years ago.

Posted by Jord@n on June 15, 2010 at 7:45 AM (PDT)

30

I got to my local AT&T store at 8:55 this morning, there were two other people there, the doors opened, it turned out that one of the guys in line was actually there to get his phone fixed, I walked out with my preordered 32GB in under 10 minutes, car door to car door.  Piece of cake.

Posted by Josh on June 15, 2010 at 7:52 AM (PDT)

31

It is quite interesting to see the inability of both AT&T and Apple to scale their B2C ordering applications to accept a peak load.

Makes you wonder about the network infrastructure.

Posted by Charles Farley on June 15, 2010 at 8:30 AM (PDT)

32

Haha, AT&T is now claiming they “are currently upgrading our online account system and it is temporarily unavailable.”

Uh-huh. That’s believable.

Posted by Skwid on June 15, 2010 at 8:46 AM (PDT)

33

I’m trying to be reasonable about the issues many of use are having, but everytime I try to give Apple or At&t the benefit of the doubt I can’t help think that this is the iPhone 4- not 1. Hours and hours of delays are not acceptable for either party with the experience they have in regards to an iPhone launch.

Posted by Jord@n on June 15, 2010 at 8:50 AM (PDT)

34

Mark it down on your calendar, folks. It was on the 15th day of June, 2010, that Apple, working in concert with seasoned pooch-screwer AT&T, finally got gobbled up by the nasty corporate trainwreck virus.

This is a company that generally takes great pains to ensure product launches are executed with precision. But for iPhone 4, Jobs’ team has just made missteps at every turn, capped by this debacle today. Why did they not adopt the same, “doors open at 7:30 a.m.” strategy as they did with the iPad? All parties were clearly unprepared and it would seem to be a harbinger of bad things to come on June 24, 2010.

Posted by Flippy Hambone on June 15, 2010 at 8:51 AM (PDT)

35

A year ago, I thought the 3GS pre-order went quite smoothly.  What happened this year?  Is there that much more demand for iPhone 4?  (Admittedly it’s a much better upgrade than the 3GS was.)

Posted by Dyvim on June 15, 2010 at 9:30 AM (PDT)

36

The AT&T preorder website is not working well. The Apple preorder website just isn’t working.

Posted by jiji on June 15, 2010 at 9:41 AM (PDT)

37

Well i just used the Apple store app on my 3GS and voila, i was able to reserve on at my local store for pickup on the 24th!!!
Quick and painless, let’s just hope it works!!! LOL

Posted by Alexcue in LA on June 15, 2010 at 10:55 AM (PDT)

38

Just a quick follow up i got my confirmation email after about 10 minutes!!!

Posted by Alexcue in LA on June 15, 2010 at 10:56 AM (PDT)

39

I was able to preorder with in store pickup through the new apple store iphone app - very little delay there.  Just wish I had figured that out a couple of hours ago…

Posted by LL on June 15, 2010 at 11:08 AM (PDT)

40

I place the blame squarely on AT&T’s shoulders, using history as an indicator.  I mean, they had the same issue when the 3g was released, they were not prepared for MMS, and they were not prepared for tethering. so it should come as no surprise that AT&T has once again dropped the ball.

Posted by Miles PO on June 15, 2010 at 11:10 AM (PDT)

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