NEW YORK — Apple and AT&T were hit with two major problems when they started taking orders for the coming iPhone model yesterday: Buyers reported problems getting their orders registered and an apparent glitch in AT&T’s Web site was depositing AT&T customers into strangers’ accounts.
Troubles in meeting demand for the iPhone aren’t new.
The computer systems at Apple Inc., the maker of the phone, or AT&T Inc., its exclusive U.S. carrier, have had various problems every year since the first iPhone launched in 2007. Yesterday, shoppers said they were met with error messages on the company Web sites, and lines formed in stores as clerks tried to get orders into their systems.
Japanese phone company Softbank started taking orders earlier in the day, and was also flooded with requests. Softbank spokesman Furuya Katsuhide said that the better-than-expected demand had stressed the company’s systems, which slowed both its Web site and the reservation process at stores.
The apparent breach and other security foul-ups by Dallas-based AT&T could have serious consequences for its customers.
On Gizmodo.com, a technology website, several readers posted stories of trying to log into their AT&T accounts to upgrade to the newest iPhone and being sent instead into strangers’ accounts.
Once inside an account, an unauthorized user can get to the account owner’s personal information, so if customers are being misdirected that could set the stage for identity theft scams such as ordering other products under that person’s name.
AT&T said late yesterday that it had received reports of customers seeing the wrong account information but wasn’t able to replicate the problem and was investigating. But the company said the personal information users were seeing in one another’s accounts didn’t include Social Security numbers, credit card information and detailed call logs.
Just last week, AT&T plugged an embarrassing security hole on its website that exposed the e-mail addresses of people who had bought another new Apple product, the iPad 3G.
And in January, AT&T acknowledged to The Associated Press that a problem in its network was causing some wireless customers to land in strangers’ Facebook accounts when they tried to check their own accounts using their smart phones. AT&T said it was fixing that glitch.
It doesn’t happen often, but the Internet can forget who is who when multiple people log onto a site at the same time.
AT&T blamed a “misdirected cookie” for at least one of the problems in January. A cookie is a file websites place on users’ computers to identify them. If the Internet provider fumbles a cookie and sends it to the wrong computer, the person using that computer will see a Web page he or she wasn’t expecting.
Apple representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment late Tuesday.
The iPhone 4 goes on sale June 24 starting at $199. It will feature a higher-resolution screen, longer battery life and thinner design than last year’s model.
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