iPhone pre-order problems point to possible delays for Australian release

US phone company AT&T has been hit by an avalanche of pre-orders for Apple’s new iPhone despite numerous technical difficulties and a security breach, with the high demand signalling a possible delay for the Australian launch of the device which had been expected in late July.

It wouldn’t be the first delay for a local Apple launch. This year the Australian release of the iPad was pushed back several weeks due to higher-than-expected popularity in the States. Last year, some users waited months for the iPhone 3GS.

Telco AT&T, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the United States, has confirmed that pre-orders for the iPhone 4 have sold out for the initial June 24 launch date.

“Because of the incredible interest in iPhone 4, today was the busiest online sales day in AT&T history. 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,” it said in a statement.

“We’ll email customers with confirmation once their order is placed, and again when it ships. In addition, we will have devices available on a first-come, first-serve basis in our stores beginning on June 24.”

However, many users experienced significant problems when trying to order their device and have missed out as a result. Tech blog Gizmodo reported users have repeatedly come up against “website error” messages when trying to log on to the AT&T site, and one user even reported accidentally logging in to another user’s account.

The telco said it was investigating the matter, saying “We have been unable to replicate the issue, but the information displayed did not include call-detail records, social security numbers, or credit card information”.

But that isn’t any consolation to some users, who have replied angrily on tech blogs across the internet.

Users have now resorted to lining up outside AT&T locations to set aside their credit card information and personal details in order to reserve a spot in the queue on the launch date, next Thursday.

But today’s iPhone-related security problems aren’t the only issues both Apple and AT&T need to be worried about.

Just last week Gawker Media reported that a security hacking group managed to exploit a vulnerability in AT&T networks to retrieve the information of over 100,000 early iPad buyers. The leak even prompted an FBI investigation.

Now, it seems, that leak is worse than first thought. TechCrunch has reported that details including the buyer’s location, associated phone number and even an address could have been included in the leak.

The post references a post by security expert Chris Paget, who explains that the information originally leaked contains sensitive ICC-ID data.

The FBI is currently investigating the leak. Several prominent government officials, including White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, along with celebrities, members of the press and tech industry executives were named in the leaked documents.

While these issues are restricted to the American release, Australian users have experienced similar problems before due to high levels of demand. Some users waited for weeks to get their hands on an iPhone 3GS after orders sold out with minutes last year.

The same situation is likely to occur again, as iPhone 3G users will just be coming off their 24-month contract plans with many expected to order upgrades.

Those delays could be exacerbated by the fact a successful US launch means fewer units will be available for the four Australian telcos which will offer the device.

Already, phone company Three is sending out emails to remind users the iPhone 4 will be available “next month”. If last year’s launch is anything to go buy, many users will miss out and will have to wait for several weeks to upgrade.

The problems have overshadowed Apple’s own announcement today – an Apple Store App will now be available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

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