iPhone 4 pre-orders bring down Apple store

Apple and AT&T kicked off pre-orders for the latest iPhone, coming June 24, but Apple's online store experienced problems around 6 a.m. ET

As promised, Apple early today began taking pre-orders for its new iPhone 4, although only the black model was immediately available. Around 6 a.m. ET, however, the iPhone 4 page on Apple's U.S. online store was returning an "Oops! An error occurred" message. Minutes later, the entire store went down.

The iPhone 4, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled earlier this month at his company's annual developers conference, first hit the online stores of Apple and U.S. carrier partner AT&T shortly after midnight ET.

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Only the black model can be pre-ordered from Apple or AT&T. According to Apple, the white iPhone 4 is "currently unavailable for pre-order or in-store pickup." Apple gave no reason for the delay or when customers could pre-order the white smartphone.

The 16GB iPhone 4 costs $199 with a two-year AT&T contract; the 32GB model runs $299.

Also early today, Apple and AT&T started taking pre-orders for the new $99 8GB iPhone 3GS.

Both the iPhone 4 and the 8GB iPhone 3GS will be available for pickup at Apple's retail stores on June 24, the day that pre-orders will also reach customers who asked for at-home delivery. AT&T has set June 25 as its in-store pick-up date.

On its Web site, AT&T said that orders would be processed on a "first-come, first-served basis," and that orders submitted by 2 p.m. ET June 22 would arrive two days later.

"The actual shipment date and receipt of your order is not guaranteed and may be subject to delays," AT&T cautioned as it ticked off several, including availability, credit issues and number porting.

iPhone customers new to AT&T must select one of two capped-data plans that the carrier debuted earlier this month as replacements for the previous unlimited plan. However, existing AT&T iPhone customers can keep the higher-priced unlimited data plan indefinitely, even if upgrading their phone.

The online stores for the other retailers selling the iPhone 4 -- Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Radio Shack -- did not list the new model as available for pre-order as of 6 a.m. ET. Both Best Buy and Radio Shack said Monday that they would take iPhone pre-orders today. Early today, Radio Shack announced via Twitter that it would take pre-orders starting at noon CT.

Apple's online store was down in France, Germany and the U.K. as of 6 a.m., effectively barring customers in those countries from ordering. Apple's Japanese online store was up and running, but the iPhone 4 was not yet available for pre-order.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

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This story, "iPhone 4 pre-orders bring down Apple store" was originally published by Computerworld.