At one point on Tuesday, the number of people flooding Apple's 1-800 phone lines became so overwhelming that Apple left an automated message suggesting callers phone back later.
Problems in the authorization process, where Apple's web site hands off to AT&T, were apparently responsible for the intermittent outages. However, neither Apple nor AT&T had issued statements to clarify what was going on. The problems did not seem to be interfering with Best Buy or Radio Shack, whose stores are also taking pre-orders for the iPhone 4.
The device goes on sale June 24. Wall Street shrugged off the news, sending Apple shares up $5 and a half dollars.
In the meantime, Apple and AT&T were getting ripped on social networks as would-be shoppers poured their scorn on the poor preparation. "I wouldn't be surprised if AT&T announced their iPhone 4 pre-order servers are running off a single server," tweeted one commenter.
The only information they received was an automatic message informing online shoppers that requests couldn't be completed. "We're sorry, but there was an error processing your request," the message read. "Please try again later." Separately, Gizmodo reported security issues cropping up around AT&T's ordering system. That report could not be independently confirmed.
The black iPhone 4 is available to pre-order today with free shipping or in-store pickup on June 24. So far, however, the white iPhone 4, remains "currently unavailable" for pre-order or in-store pickup, according to Apple. When Apple announced last week that the iPhone 4 would be available in 16GB and 32GB versions, it also said the device would be available in two colors, black and white.
Offering its own tongue-in-cheek commentary on the day's festivities, the Christian Science Monitor ran with this headline: "Apple channels Henry Ford: Preorder any iPhone 4, as long as it's black."
Safe to say that one person not all amused would be one Steven P. Jobs.