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Why did you rush to pre-order an iPhone 4?

In what must be this week's least surprising technology news, Apple and AT&T's online stores had trouble handling a flood of pre-orders for Apple's upcoming iPhone 4 on Wednesday--so much so that AT&T's site now turns away would-be iPhone 4 shoppers with a "Pre-orders for iPhone temporarily suspended" message.

(In their overloaded state, AT&T's systems may also have compromised the personal information of some customers.)

att_iphone_preorder.JPG

On Wednesday, Apple released a statement noting its overall success--more than 600,000 iPhone 4 pre-orders--but apologizing for the problems: "It was the largest number of pre-orders Apple has ever taken in a single day and was far higher than we anticipated, resulting in many order and approval system malfunctions."

But while the numbers might be unprecedented, the phenomenon isn't. Shoppers faced unmanageable crowds and waits for AT&T to activate their new iPhones at the launch of the first model in 2007, the debut of the iPhone 3G in 2008 and the arrival of the iPhone 3GS last year. AT&T even had problems coping last summer when owners of existing iPhones installed Apple's iPhone OS 3.0 upgrade, which required reactivating their devices on its network.

This has become as predictable as Apple's occasional excesses of App Store control-freakery and subsequent reversals.

So why do people put themselves through the cybernetic equivalent of driving to Tysons Corner Center at 5 p.m. on a Friday in mid-December? A new iPhone--or any other device--isn't like a ticket to Stephen Strasburg's pitching debut; your opportunity to buy it does not expire within hours. Nor will they stop making the thing after meeting an initial quota. What's the point of joining yet another "OMG must buy now!!" shopping stampede?

I'm genuinely puzzled here. Please, explain this one to me.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 16, 2010; 4:48 PM ET
Categories:  Digital culture , Gadgets , Mobile  
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Comments

My brother's birthday was on May 23rd and I gave him an IOU for the $200 iPhone as his present. Given that he'll have had to wait a month at minimum (if I ordered on launch day) I figured it was the least I could do.

Posted by: chrisFnicholson | June 16, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Because Apple's marketing team does an amazing job?

It's also the illusion of scarcity - "We sold 600K and now we're not taking more preorders" makes folks believe they'll need to wait until fall to get their hands on one.

Perhaps even more baffling - it seems a number of the newest perks (multitasking, multiple exchange accounts, etc.) will be available to 3Gs (and maybe 3G) users with just the OS update and yet I wouldn't be surprised if they're among the most rabid to get their hands on the new device.

Posted by: PRCog | June 16, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I have the original iPhone, which I purchased on its first day in 2007 by walking into an Apple store about about 9 pm with no line. I remember activating it with no problem in about 20 minutes, and that involved transferring my number from my old phone. I've never had any problems with the software updates (though I have usually waited a few days after the release). I preordered the new one yesterday morning because I've been waiting for the last few months to upgrade, knowing the new phone was coming out, and I'm leaving for vacation next Friday and wanted to have it in time to take with me. It only took me 2 tries and about 10 minutes total. I know a friend who had trouble getting his hands on a 3G a few weeks after launch, and I wanted to make sure I got a new one before my old one dies (it's started freezing almost daily in the last few weeks.) I certainly wouldn't have tried all day or stood in line to preorder, though.

Posted by: amy130 | June 16, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

My guess: A lot of people were anticipating this release and either have expired contracts or AT&T-provided incentives to upgrade their phone. With the once-a-year update schedule Apple seems stuck to, your phone's "obsolescence clock" officially starts ticking when the product is released to the public. Thus people have been waiting for months (particularly with the product leaks), are ready to buy, and want to get in front of the clock (futile, but true). All that, plus marketing, equals big pre-sales.

Posted by: Section315 | June 16, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I tried to pre-order without too much luck yesterday. I certainly didn't waste my whole day doing it and more or less gave up after trying a few times; although it did become a bit of a game and I would try periodically throughout the day just to see if I could get through. I certainly don't need the iPhone 4 on launch day, but it is easy to get caught up in the excitement and it would have been fun to have the shiny new gadget on it's first day.

Posted by: ShawnDC | June 16, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Why did I rush? I wanted this one as soon as I could get because I have been using an iphone with a smashed screen since March so I have been waiting for this. I usually don't rush out and did not get my original iPhone until the second generation. I had to wait about an hour in the store yesterday after the computers just about stopped but they were able to get my order in. I just hope I get it next week.

Posted by: jtsw | June 16, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Well apparently you've never owned one. If you would you'd realize that the sooner you get it, the sooner you can customize it, jailbreak it (if that's what you're into- which I don't understand why everyone doesn't but who cares) and b/c I'm so curious to see how Apple can keep dominating the mobile phone/smart phone/ MP3 player market time and time again.
I guess to summarize- I'm an American and I want it now- just like everyone else!

Posted by: clay106686 | June 16, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

PRCog is correct that almost all of the software-based enhancements of the new iPhone will be coming to 3G and 3GS owners on the 24th with iOS 4. IIRC, the only thing 3G owners will not get that 3GS owners do is the enhanced multitasking. Users of the original EDGE iPhone will not be able to update, but I would expect a number of those users upgraded to one of the 3G models in the last two years.

I'm willing to wait a couple of weeks to replace my 3G, to see what issues early-adopters come across, and I'll still get most of the software benefits. (And to let the lines thin out a little.)

Posted by: kennedye | June 16, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Speaking only for myself, I can confidently assert that the reason I spent nearly an hour trying to pre-order an iPhone is that I'm an idiot. True story.

Posted by: jcydc | June 16, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

It seems really silly for people who bombarded the site to get their hands on a cell phone. I mean the second batch will be available in a few days (on Apple.com). So what's the hurry right?!! Well I am proud to say, I was one of those people who got up at 5:00am on the 15th, waiting for 6:00am to come around to get online to pre-order the iPhone 4.

This is my theory and I may be wrong. I believe that the first batch of any product is better than the second batch especially when the first batch is such a big hit and people are willing to be on the waiting list for the second. It's all about quality control for me. In order to fulfill the demand in the market the organization have to rush through the production, so the quality can highly be overlooked. I hate recalls. It makes you lose confidence of the brand.

For example, the Toyota Prius. They were huge last Summer due to the gas price and people are on waiting list for up to 8 months just to own one. And guess what, they have quality control issues.
That is just my opinion =)

Posted by: DeeH2 | June 16, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't get it either. My understanding is that the new Iphone now won't be released until July 14th (at least according to Apple's web site). So, as for those commenters above hoping for one next week, well perhaps there is existing stock available but it doesn't look like it.

Posted by: cgindc | June 16, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

It's called supply and demand. There are a limited supply of iphones and a limited amount of people who don't know which is the best phone on the market. Just wait until all networks can have iphones and not just at&t and t-mobile, thats when we will be camping out at the factory. I guess if you really want to know why you would have to give your blackberry away and buy an iphone. Then you would be wondering how you ever smiled without one. Or maybe you can explain the all work and no play thing to me.

Posted by: tifiticus | June 16, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

I wanted to order the new Iphone early not only because of the new features, but also because my current 3g is almost two years old and in any event I'm due for an upgrade. Part of me also thought (perhaps naively) that by being one of the first to order, I might get it delivered before the 24th. Anyways, I woke up @ 3:45 am EST because I'd heard that the pre-order page was going live at 4AM. I encountered many of the same problems that others did when the page did go live, mostly apple's site not being able to access my att account. Took me about an hour, but eventually got a 16gb ordered and received a confirm email a few minutes later.

Posted by: equeen1 | June 16, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Two words: instant gratification.
Even if you have to wait nine days for delivery, you still, technically, own the new iPhone. (In your face, losers! Just kidding.)
PLUS
Apple products are genius and, frankly, unparalleled (everyone else keeps trying and keeps coming up short).
Apple's marketing is amazing. (Even non-geeks are captivated by Steve Jobs enthusiasm.)

Posted by: awee | June 16, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE the anticipation of new gadgets/toys/games/etc. I actually like the anticipation more than actually having the product I'm anticipating.

So believe it or not, I enjoy the process. Even when it's painful like it was yesterday. It's just my way of getting myself psyched for the product.

Some people enjoy things that I, myself, cannot see the appeal. It's the same thing here. Everyone has different hobbies.

Posted by: isuryan83 | June 16, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

There's a unique market-scarcity that has been created with the iphone that can probably explain a certain percentage of those sales. I sold my 3GS for $10 more than I paid for it recently the night before it was announced, and I am now back to using my old Sony phone. I preordered a new one online because I simply need an iphone again, asap. What people don't realize is that there is a big demand for the iphone without an AT&T contract -- so big that I can sell mine for more than I paid for it when it came out. I've done this with each successive iphone generation. I didn't exactly want or need the new one, but I knew that if I got with it and sold my GS that I could upgrade for basically nothing.

Posted by: solihull73 | June 16, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Setting aside marketing for a moment, it still takes something more than that when it comes to the iphone phenomenon. I recall the hugeness that was Windows 3 (too many of you too young to remember) and it was about form over function. There's a strong visual appeal to the iphone. It's design and accessiblity as a user achieves perfection. For the iphone 4, it's about the screen, how visually stunning the images will be. If there was a poll about which feature of the iphone 4 people are looking forward to, I'd bet it's the new retina display.

Posted by: peter216 | June 16, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, Rob, your indoctrination into the Cult of Mac has been lacking in some respect. Perhaps an appointment for re-education at the Bethesda Apple store is in order?

Posted by: irasciblecurmudgeon | June 16, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Well for me it's the screaming urge to run, not walk, away from Verizon at the first possible chance.

Posted by: pilgrim1629 | June 16, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I made my first attempt at 330 PDT with my first cup of coffee, and kept trying of and on until I succeeded at 1530. I am now a heavy user of certain business apps that don't really perform fast enough for me on my 3G, and I expect that the new processor will make my life easier. I enjoy the iPhone, and it really wasn't a problem to try the purchase process a few times during the day.

Posted by: AlyoshaK | June 16, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Well I am on 24 hour call here at my office and I had no calls on the 15th, so I sat and tried and tried and finally put an order through for the iPhone 4! I guess I was lucky, we will see. If my phone arrives on the 24th as the email mentioned I will be very pleased. I waited in line for the first three and got one every time. I love Apple products(They DO JUST WORK). So I figured I needed something to Get Crazy For! I wouldn't stand line for nothing else I believe that is just nonsense. Good luck to everyone else and I hope everyone receives their phones on time!!

Posted by: sleon50 | June 16, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I got it because I wanted it. Plus my contract was up for renewal so instead of paying 699 or whatever it is I got the 299 deal! 2 year contract is nothing, need a phone and have never had luck with CDMA, so GSM all the way, plus hate Verizon commercials and still not impressed with Sprint. Been with AT&T since 1977 even though it's gone through several incarnations! Still a good company and I don't have any problems with them. They have always corrected whatever problem I've had, which are few and far between. Worst was with my Blackberry but none of my 3 iPhones had problems. As long as you keep up with the technology, you will be fine! Just my input! I'll let you know how I like it when I get it on the 24th.

Posted by: rcossebo | June 16, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Apple gets it right with their products. People who use Apple's products know this, so if they release a new or revised edition of the iphone. It's a must have. Period. No argument or discussion needed.
plus they put something in their stuff that makes people crave it, like a fat kid likes McDonald's :o)

In addition, they are using the Coleco marketing technique of creating a demand because other people want something and their isn't enough to go around as in the Cabbage Patch Kid Dolls of the 1980's.

Posted by: direct2 | June 16, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

It appears that most of these comments justify their wanting an iPhone 4 (no argument with the marketplace here), but they ignore Rob's central question of why they want one RIGHT NOW. Why not wait for the crowds to thin out a bit?

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | June 16, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I purchased an iPhone 3GS on May 12 and found out I am eligible to return it and upgrade (at no additional cost) to the iPhone 4. The return/exchange has to be completed between June 24 and 26. My office is located a few blocks from an Apple store. I walked over during lunch yesterday to place my pre-order so that I'm sure to have a phone reserved and be able to take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade during that short window of time.

I was initially very disappointed when I heard the 4 was coming out and thought I'd be stuck with the 'old' version for a while - and really, really happy to find out I can upgrade my new toy for the even newer, better one. I won't be camping out in the wee hours of June 24, but I do have to pick up my phone sometime that day, so I'm prepared to spend some time in line to do that.

Posted by: leocook | June 16, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse


I think it's precisely the same urge that led one to line up outside the store the day, say, the Beatles' "White Album" first went on sale.

You know the world is going to change in the blink of an eye, and you want to be there for it. Hey - count me in.

Posted by: randyman1 | June 16, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

It's a chick magnet.

Posted by: ecor | June 16, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Steve Jobs is a genius and many consider him as a modern day Edison. Therefore, you are in great company when you buy an Iphone. Think about it. Can anyone tell us the name of the person who created the Android or better yet, can you put a face with the Blackberry? When Steve Jobs speaks everyone (who likes the latest and the greatest) listens. He is like a superstar.

Furthermore, there used to be a time when the coolest phones were only used by entertainers or the rich in movies. I remember when the flip phone was so prestigious. Now, everyone from Puff Daddy to the average Joe can have a phone that is remarkable. So, although this phone has not changed the world, it has been a wonderful and innovative addition to the lives of many. It just keeps getting better.

Posted by: romeo2 | June 16, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Because it offers enough compelling new features to make upgrading desirable (from my 3GS and son's 3G). I pre-ordered through AT&T's website last night. My first seven or eight attempts led to an error message telling me the site wasn't working, but on my last try I decided to click on the arrow button next to the "continue" phrase instead of the phrase itself, and lo and behold, I had two phone upgrade pre-orders complete within five minutes. I received an immediately email confirm saying my phones would be delivered between June 24th and July 5th.

Posted by: stratman1 | June 16, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

It took all of ten minutes to fill out the online pre-order. In a month it will still take all of ten minutes to fill out the online order. I know I want one, and I know the price is not going to come down any time soon. So I have to ask, what's the point of waiting?

Posted by: markb3 | June 17, 2010 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Why day 1? Why not. For me these devices have a lifespan of the moment I purchase it to the moment the next one comes out, about 365 days. So wait a couple of weeks longer? That means I don't use it as much.

I should also note that you are forgetting about the resell market for iPhones. Every iPhone I have ever owned (v. 1, 2, and 3) I've resold on Ebay for what I paid for it or more (the hardware). Selling a phone that can be jailbroken and used on another carrier is an attractive proposition on ebay, and the sooner I sell it the 'less' the cost of the new hardware.

Finally, all the chaos doesn't apply if you are first in line. I got my iPad 5 minutes after the store open and smiled at the folks in the other line waiting 5 hours (who didn't preorder).

Posted by: idiparker | June 17, 2010 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Well Rob it is not hard to explain why I pre ordered my new iPhone 4 at 5:00 AM PST on the first day that pre-orders were being taken.

1. I, like most people, will assume that there is a finite number of iPhone 4s to be sold in the pre-sale stage. After they sell out no more will be sold for some time because raw materials will need to be collected, the parts will need to be manufactured, final assembly will manufacture the iPhones, the will need to be shipped to the retail outlets, & then finally they will need to be stocked on shelves so shoppers will have access. I would prefer to not have to wait a weeks and or months to obtain a new iPhone. For this reasoning pre-ordering was a good choice.

2. My contract with AT&T is up for renewal. With this renewal I am eligible for a phone up grade. I have been waiting on the 2010 release of the iPhone so I could get the latest version when I upgrade.

3. The new iPhones have been released annually in the month of July in the past and I assume will continue to be released there in the future. This means that in the year 2012 in the month of July I will be eligible for an upgrade at the release of that iPhone as soon as it comes out.

If you need more convincing I am sure that there are countless books on the basics of supply, demand, and economics in general that you can consult for more answers. Until this time please feel free to write something for the Times that actually deserve to get paid for. If I was your editor I would have set this story on fire and handed it back to you. I am sure that stories like this are the reason for your shrinking readership.

Posted by: DWJNewman | June 17, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Sheeple

Posted by: eebel491 | June 17, 2010 2:04 AM | Report abuse

I see the people admitting they've ordered one of these things ain't prepared to admit the usual reason, which is that first orderers basically want something to show off with. Impress their families, neighbors, business contacts.

Nothing new about this. I recall the first arrival of stainless steel razor blades in America. Since they were made by a British firm that made garden tools, they were released initially through garden supply stores.

I recall seeing from my office window in the 1960s three-block lines of folks eager to show off to their neighbors a tiny pack of five Wilkinson Sword blades -- simply because they were new. This on mid-Manhattan, which at that time had virtually no gardeners at all.

Posted by: kunino | June 17, 2010 3:18 AM | Report abuse

Why? Because I can't afford a nice home on the beach in California. Plus, life is short.

Posted by: Retired62 | June 17, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

The new phone has a great camera with a built-in flash. It means you can get rid of your bulky traditional camera you never have with you when you need it. Thus the improvements are worth the extra cost. If my contract was not up for 1 year (and only six months), I would have been one of those trying to get the new iPhone. By the way, Kodak's pic fic app, as of last night, disappeared from the app store. Why? I love that app.

Posted by: funfun881 | June 17, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Do you really wonder why consumers stampede to obtain various Apple products, products which, I might point out, offer no actual advantage over competitors' offerings? It's obvious.

Apple has the most sophisticated and effective marketing strategies ever employed by any private company. Sure, their ads are clever and all, but that's only the tip of a very large iceberg.

For one thing, they have taken a page from the Republican Party playbook and cultivated a population of fools who accept anything on faith alone that Apple might try to sell them. These Apple sheep will rush to buy anything Apple throws at them because otherwise they risk loosing their status in that community, by which they define themselves.

Secondly, Apple epitomizes the exclusive focus on the shallow that our society increasingly exhibits, offering style with just enough substance to get by, to let the stylishness fool them into thinking the way children think when they see ads for the cool Christmas Toy Of The Year. They think they will just DIE without it.

And last, they keep 'em hooked with their lock-step proprietariness, keeping control of everything that their flock can see and use on their devices.

I wouldn't buy any Apple product if they sold them for a tenth of the prices they charge. I try not to deal with Nazis.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | June 17, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Have you seen the IPhone 4 directly? Let me tell you this, it's the most beautiful smartphone on the planet. These Droid, HTC EVO folks don't get it. Perhaps those phones have some little feature the IPhone doesn't have. But, do you want to carry an ugly brick in your pocket? Jobs gets it right again. At Starbucks, at the Club, iPhone is cool. HTC EVO, that's the "company phone," you have there. Gee, aren't you off work now? Old people, young people, they all buy iPhone. Chicks like it and guys know it's a chick magnet. Guys with Droids go home by themselves. End of story.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | June 17, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Because the legions of Appletards will buy anything Apple throws at them, pricetag be damned. Steve Jobs could take a dump in a box, and people would line up around the block to buy the newest iPoo at $600, especially if packaging was nice.

Posted by: futbolclif | June 17, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Frankly, who cares why? It is what it is. We should just all be grateful that there is an *American* company that is capable of designing and selling products that - for whatever reason - gets the buying public excited enough to open their wallets.

All the Apple hate-mongers - what's your point? That you can't understand why people get excited about these new devices? OK - we get it - you're clueless - go home and play with your Android phone and feel smug about it; no one else cares.

Posted by: jlm656 | June 17, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Finally someone like magnifco1000 gets it! Sex, it's all about sex...

Posted by: ozpunk | June 17, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Can someone please tell me why I can't just transfer my current sim card into the new iphone? All I would need to do is purchase the phone in Europe without a contract.

Posted by: Henry_of_BrowardCounty | June 17, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

@magnifco1000

You're funny. I've seen lots if "corporate use" iPhones, and I can't recall ever seeing an Android phone being used as one. The EVO is just as sleek as the iPhone. The Droid has a bit of a grittier, industrial look but that's how they wanted to market it (they trashed the fashionista-ness of the iPhone in their ad campaign). But there are plenty of good looking Android phones out there. The last time the "walled garden" setup like Apple goes by was this popular, it was with AOL dial-up. How cool was being on AOL in retrospect?

Posted by: thornharvestar | June 17, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Think hula-hoops and cabbage patch dolls.

Posted by: CalD | June 17, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I preordered mine because I'm weary of cutting my fingers on the broken glass of my iPhone 3g. I need the new one so i can hurry up and drop it a few times. I also provide IT services to a great many Exchange orgs, so it's a sales tool of sorts for me.

My contract is expiring at just the right time, considered making the switch to the Sprint 4g device but AT&T service has been slowly improving so I'll give them two more years to get their act together.

Come 2012, if AT&T is still not selling a 4g-equivalent device then I'll abandon ship.

Posted by: pressevent | June 17, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Simply put, the phone looks amazing! Most iPhone users are absolutely in love with their current handset, so the better question might be why wouldn't they be excited about getting one asap!?! It's akin to the John Madden Football series, sure it'll be available in stores weeks following it's initial release, but what long-time enthusiast wouldn't want to be the 1st kid on the block with the hottest toy???

Non-iPhone users always seem to overlook the fact that iPhone owners have grown to become a world-wide community and the excitement of waiting in line with 'your people' now amounts to a truly fulfilling experience & not just the mundane chore you're making it out to be in the conclusion on your article. My advice to you (& the other naysayers in this thread who felt obligated to comment on an experience they've obviously never had): Put ur crappy brick of a Blackberry down, cop an iPhone & let the rest of the cool kids have our fun! Lol...

Posted by: Ghostwriter28 | June 17, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

-current iphone has lost volume and silent buttons
-want to try to sell current iphone on ebay asap before market floods
-want to be first among friends
-it's cool

Posted by: jb37101 | June 17, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure it has something to do with the limbic system, Rob -- man's primordial, autonomous need to dominate others, like the caveman who would club his neighbor to get the most beautiful cavewoman. We can't explain it; we just want the BEST.

As for me, I bought the 3G the day it came out. I upgraded to the 3GS and a few weeks later got pick-pocketed in Brazil. Having had a taste of the far-superior characteristics of the 3GS, I have waited like a kid on Christmas Eve for the 4.

As for the guy who slandered half of all American voters and managed to Godwin himself in the same comment: nuts to you.

Posted by: mattr1970 | June 17, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I was able to order the 32gb 4G via the apple website yesterday with no problems. Apple estimates the delivery to be July 3, although the receipts says that it will ship by July 14 for a delivery between July 15-19. I am a current ATT customer with an iPhone 3G, and was eligible for upgrade pricing.

Posted by: maus92 | June 17, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

1. my iPhone 3G has terrible reception in many places and i'm leaving for a series of trips so i wanted the 4G before i left.

(I used to think it was an issue general to the 3G but after talking with other 3G owners I wonder if maybe my device just happens to be half broken.)

2. it wasn't that hard. all i had to do was go online and pre-order. i did have to reload the page a bunch of times.

3. it's fun to show it off, even if the buzz only lasts for a few days.

4. i would think Jobs would have his act together by now and anticipate these crowds. i think he must like it for all the PR it generates.

Posted by: dekey | June 17, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

@dekey:

The iPhone 4 isn't 4G, just FYI.

Posted by: thornharvestar | June 17, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

They're rushing to buy iPhones because they're afraid Apple will run out! Oh noes!

If Apple runs out, then you won't be able to pay AT&T $110/month for limited data!

If that happens, then people would have to ummm not spend so much time staring at their iPhone. Or worse, use the 3G iPhone. Then people won't be impressed with them.

Posted by: Skeptic1 | June 17, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Why do you even considering this rushing?? Rushing is driving over the speed limit to get somewhere or eating your food too fast. This is simply ordering an item online. Would you expect someone to sit at their computer and think "well, I could order this today, or wait 2 days"?? Why? Wait for what?? A huge advantage of online shopping is convenience, and with almost anything else you buy there are typically no issues placing our order. In this case, the product is in high demand and that effected the ordering process ... who was to know??. However, once confronted with this ordering obstacle, most tech savvy individuals take it as a challenge and have no option other to try and 'beat it' ;)

Posted by: upland_bill | June 17, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying that the iPhone isn't the best device on the market; but I do think that the #1 reason people flock to pre-order is the feeling of superiority they get to feel for a while that they alone have best device out there. Everyone that I know that pre-ordered one or even tried to of course had to shout it loudly on Facebook & Twitter so that everyone would know just how awesome they are. Apple has done an amazing job of cultivating this feeling that people get and making them hungry for more of it. Unless this trend changes, Apple is going to continue to be very successful even if they didn't create the best devices (which they probably still do).

Posted by: johnhodson | June 17, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Experience. This is my first iPhone purchase and I actually thought it would be fun to stand in line with the masses for the experience. But after reading up about how most of those people typically end up with rainchecks, I decided to pre-order. I will be in the SF area for part of the week after the release date and it would be interesting to test all those things I've read about AT&T's network there assuming, of course, that my order arrives on time.

That said, assuming I like this phone, would I do it for the next one I get? Probably not without a very good reason. For example, I've gone to the 4th of July fireworks on the Mall a couple times, and that is certainly a mass of people to deal with. But I don't go back every year. I don't see the need without good reason... like if I had guests in town or something.

Posted by: prokaryote | June 17, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Why did I rush to pre-order an iPhone 4? Because I am a dbag.

Posted by: 123face | June 17, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for your replies--I had forgotten about issues like cracked screens on older iPhones. To answer some specific queries:

@PRCog, @kennedye: Good point about the iOS 4 update and older iPhones. But if it proceeds like the iPhone OS 3 update, you might want to wait a day to ensure that AT&T's servers don't melt down from everybody trying to reactivate newly-upgraded phones.

@irasciblecurmudgeon: Nah, the Bethesda store is a little too far from home or work. But I am planning on trying to stop by the new Georgetown store when it opens Friday evening...

@rcossebo: The theoretical variables in coverage and performance between CDMA and GSM are far outweighed by differences in carrier coverage.

@tifiticus: What BlackBerry? I've never owned one, nor has the Post given me one. (They offered it; I declined the offer. My own phone works fine for checking my e-mail from outside of the office.)

@randyman1: If the arrival of a new iPhone model means "the world is going to change in the blink of an eye" every year, aren't we kind of defining down the whole world-changing concept?

@DWJNewman: I don't buy the upgrade-discount-timing argument; with each of the last two iPhone upgrades, AT&T has given owners of older iPhones the new-customer discount 18 months into their contracts. Also, I write for the Post, not the Times, as this page's domain name and its large "Washington Post" logo might suggest.

@mattr1970: Thank you for noting yet another real-world confirmation of Godwin's Law.

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | June 17, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

cause we are excited and want to get our hands on it ASAP

Posted by: jsingh21 | June 17, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I pre-ordered for my wife. She bought her iPhone 3G when it first came out and now it barely holds a charge longer than 5 or 7 minutes. Plus, it always freezes. I personally enjoy my nexus one, but had to pay for the AT&T unlocked version :(

Posted by: DarkDragon | June 17, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

It took all of ten minutes to fill out the online pre-order. In a month it will still take all of ten minutes to fill out the online order. I know I want one, and I know the price is not going to come down any time soon. So I have to ask, what's the point of waiting?

Posted by: markb3 | June 17, 2010 12:08 AM |

Why day 1? Why not. For me these devices have a lifespan of the moment I purchase it to the moment the next one comes out, about 365 days. So wait a couple of weeks longer? That means I don't use it as much.

Posted by: idiparker | June 17, 2010 12:13 AM |

____________________________________________

Best answers I've seen. As for the naysayers who think it's about status, I have to laugh: you probably wondered why two tin cans connected by a wire weren't sufficient.

Posted by: stratman1 | June 17, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

All any reasonably intelligent person has to do in order to formulate an answer to your question is to read these responses. The answer: Because they're twits.

Posted by: ancientdude | June 17, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Simple reason, the battery life for my 3G is horrible. After 40 minutes of listening to music & reading news via the Philly.com & WP apps I'm under 20% battery life and my phone starts to crash. I feel fortunate that I was eligible for the early upgrade and that ordering it was the first thing I did in the morning.

Posted by: cvogt1 | June 17, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

iPhones are made in China, and the qua;lity issues are null and void. marketing is the reason. Amerian's geting up early to buy cheap Chinese junk. If you think I a wrong turn your iPhone over and loom at the made in China stamp on the back. The chyinese already have the new iPhone, American's are just sheep led to slaughter for hopw mkuch per year $1000/annually for service and no unlimited service either. Perhaps an iPad to go with that iPhone is whjat is needed, more imported junk, to set our economy back another year. Buying Apple produstc effects China's bottom liner and not America's. Do your homnewqork and go buy and American product if you can find one. LOL. I still use my razor and my computer to acess FB. What idiots!

Posted by: patmatthews | June 17, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Who needs an iPhone. Bunch of geeks are the only people that would rush out and get one. Nothing wrong with the good old flip phone. These people that have to have this phone now need to get a life.

Posted by: Classic60 | June 17, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I am a tech junkie with OCD who likes to get ALL THINGS done immediately

I woke up early and ordered it before the rush thank god

Posted by: Bious | June 17, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

i"d like to have an I-Phone, but there's no way in hell I would ever enter into any type of two year contract. When they offer a deal where I can pay for what I use and only for what I use, I'll buy one, but not until.

The current ATT deals are nothing more than a rip-ff for suckers.

Posted by: John991 | June 17, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I pre-ordered a iPhone late last night on the Apple UK site. It took just a few minutes to do so. Apple states it will ship on the 3rd. While I have to wait to see how well Apple will meet that estimate, I can mull over if I need it so quickly.

While I am having absolutely no problems with my original 8gb iPhone's operation the available memory is almost totally consumed, so I could easily use one with more of that. I can then once again put film and video on it. With the release of this phone, my current OS is no longer capable of being upgraded. That makes it much harder to use any of the newer apps. Three years seems like a short amount of time for a phone that has preformed quite well for me.
Considering that Apple sells unlocked phones readily enough in other countries, the new phone goes a long way to solving the ongoing problem of needing to unlock it for every new OS release that I currently face in the US just so I can ditch AT&T.

I just guess it's time for a new one. But you won't find me waking up early or standing in any line on the first day to get it.

Posted by: rhenley2 | June 17, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

There I was, oh dark thirty on the 15th.... Hadn't had my rush of Starbucks and it was too dark to jump in my Prius to get to one. What could I mainline to get my DINK-greenie-Obama-godless-commie-pinko fix? Punk-ass right, what could I score? IPhone 4, that would straighten any nasty-a weave.

Posted by: peter_nd | June 17, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm excited about some of the new features - many of which won't work on my 3G iPhone - and the additional memory. It is all kind of fun being among the first, too.

But I really did not want to wait weeks for one. I knew the demand would be high - probably greater than the scarce 3G iPad - and I knew how frustrating it was to have to wait and search for a device I want from when I got a Wii a couple of years ago. Getting in on day 1 helped ensure I would not be waiting a long time for one. I understand the next day people were being told mid-July for the iPhone4 shipping already!

Posted by: iMikeDC | June 17, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

And to all of the losers who keep posting how people who like Apple products are suckers, you obviously have never used an Apple product. I was in the PC world for years, and once I got on my MacBook wished I had made the change sooner. The software is elegant (not just looks - how it functions - much like iTunes) and it works without crashing! Imagine that! Microsoft can't...

And yes, a flip phone gets the job of phone calls done. A 19-inch tube television also lets you watch shows in color. Is everyone who upgrades to a larger, prettier digital flat panel television with more functions a fool, too?

I don't feel a need to insult you if you want to stay with older technology. Be civil and don't stack insults on others you know nothing about based on items you have not tried or just cannot afford. I cannot easily afford a Mercedes and my Honda gets the job done. I don't trash people who buy expensive cars either, though. It is time you recognize that it is your jealousy talking and it is just plain rude to be insulting just because you can do so in the anonymity of the internet!

Posted by: iMikeDC | June 17, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Steve Jobs' marketing genius has created an entire sector of well-trained poodles who become sexually aroused by overpriced electronics and feel smug about it, to boot. They also seem to enjoy being told what they can and cannot do, and what other products they must buy, and how and where they are allowed to use them.

In short, the apocalypse is nigh.

Posted by: hayesap8 | June 18, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

I use my iPhone every single day and it's my lifeline when I travel, so anything that can improve that experience is a huge win for me.

Otherwise, as much as I love my iPhone 3GS it has some limitations, and knowing that Apple upgrades the phone every June means that I've been anticipating a new phone since the beginning of the year. It also looks like anyone who waits in ordering will get delayed as shipping dates have already slipped by three weeks for new orders, and by pre-ordering I don't have to stand in line.

The big gaps the new phone addresses: greatly improved camera plus LED flash (the 3GS camera is lousy) and enhanced battery life. Also cool are the HD video, front-facing camera, high-res screen, and (I'm hoping) improved speed.

Everything else is a bonus. Finally, I only splurge on three things, music, photography, and computers, so getting the iPhone is just fun.

Posted by: Ches2 | June 18, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse

@FergusonFoont: Let me fix this for you: "For one thing, they have taken a page from the Democratic Party playbook and cultivated a population of fools who accept anything on faith alone that Apple might try to sell them."

If the Monty Python crew were to re-write their "Twit Olympics" skit, it would surely include standing in line for the latest iPhone/Xbox/Wii device.

Posted by: dougb95 | June 18, 2010 1:48 AM | Report abuse

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