AT&T has temporarily suspended pre-orders of Apple's iPhone 4. The company had said late Tuesday that it was investigating software problems, but on Wednesday AT&T attributed the suspension to extremely high demand. It said pre-orders will resume when inventory becomes available.
More than 600,000 iPhone 4 pre-orders were recorded by AT&T and Apple as the process began Tuesday. Apple said demand was far higher than expected.
Apple is still taking pre-orders, but only for black models. It said new orders will be shipped by July 2 instead of the original date of June 24.
'Inadvertently Seeing Wrong Account'
Late Tuesday, AT&T said it was investigating reports that customers are "inadvertently seeing the wrong account information during the iPhone 4 purchasing process."
Some sources with knowledge of AT&T's inner activities say the pre-order system wasn't tested before launch. There have been reports that some users were able to log in to others' accounts by just logging into their own. AT&T told news media it hasn't been able to duplicate the bug, but any revealed information did not include Social Security numbers, credit-card information, or call-detail records.
In addition, there were reports that, in some cases, customer information was accepted but no pre-order was completed. One rumor contended that the problem was related to errors caused by a major update to prevent fraud.
The problem exacerbates AT&T's record for online security as it relates to Apple products. Recently, hacker site Goatse Security revealed a security vulnerability on AT&T's site that allowed the unauthorized acquisition of more than 100,000 iPad users' SIM card ID numbers and e-mail addresses.
The iPad Fuss
The list of e-mail addresses included many high-profile individuals, such as staff members in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and employees at the Justice Department, NASA, Department of Homeland Security, The New York Times, Dow Jones, Viacom, Time Warner, and News Corp. Some observers have said AT&T should not be storing confidential information on a publicly accessible web site.
In an e-mail sent Sunday, Dorothy Attwood, AT&T senior vice president and chief privacy officer, said Goatse's hack was "malicious" and the result of "great effort." She added that "unauthorized computer 'hackers' maliciously exploited a function designed to make your iPad log-in process faster." AT&T said it had turned off the feature on its web site that made the security breach possible.
In response to AT&T, Goatse wrote on its web site earlier this week that "all iPads are vulnerable" because of a weakness in Apple's Safari browser.
The temporary suspension of pre-order fulfillment at AT&T comes at time when the iPhone 4 is in tremendous demand. The newest model features higher screen resolution, longer battery life, a thinner profile, a three-axis gyro, a front-facing camera, and other improvements.
Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for consumer technology at the NPD Group, said the software problem "could be related to the volume of pre-orders AT&T is receiving," adding that the carrier clearly needs to quickly solve its security problems and reassure customers.
Mike Kent contributed to this story.
Posted: 2010-06-16 @ 11:19am PT
The shipping date is now July 14th.