10 Things Apple, Consumers Can Learn from iPhone Preorder Snafu

News Analysis: AT&T is under fire lately for its handling of iPhone 4 preorders. But rather than simply pinpoint AT&T's issues, perhaps it's time to determine what Apple and consumers can learn from the debacle to ensure that they don't run afoul of a similar problem in the future.

When Apple first introduced the iPhone 4 and said consumers could start preordering the device on June 15, there was a general belief that the process would be handled properly. After all, this is the fourth-generation iPhone.

It would seem that by now, Apple and AT&T would know what they needed to do in order to handle demand for the smartphone. But it seems that, once again, they failed miserably. After long delays, private information leaks and all kinds of bad stories coming out of preorder day, Apple and AT&T are left to pick up the pieces of their mistakes.

On the consumer side, there are some valuable lessons to be learned. Not only does it illustrate the downright ineptitude of companies, but it shows what consumers should and should not do when one of the biggest releases of the year is available for preorder. There are some lessons to be learned by every stakeholder that was affected by the iPhone preorder snafu.

Let's take a look at 10 things that Apple and consumers can learn from the iPhone preorder debacle.

1. Don't trust AT&T

AT&T might be a fine carrier for its customers, but Apple should know by now that when AT&T says it will do something the right way, it typically fails. Although Apple and AT&T offered to take preorders for the iPhone 4, a source later claimed that AT&T never tested the system that it used to accept those orders, according to tech blog Gizmodo. AT&T didn't know for sure if the system could handle the load that buyers put on it. As expected by those who knew how high the demand would be, the preordering system went into a full meltdown. That's unacceptable. In the future, AT&T should be held to a higher standard.

2. Demand is getting greater

It seemed that everyone but Apple and AT&T knew that demand for the iPhone 4 would be greater than for the iPhone 3GS. In a news release sent out by AT&T, it complained that traffic related to iPhone 4 upgrades was much higher than the traffic it experienced in 2009 when the iPhone 3GS was released. Why AT&T thought that was such a surprise is anyone's guess. Steve Jobs said himself that the iPhone 4 is one of the biggest upgrades the iPhone has ever had. The device has so many of the features that consumers have been waiting for. It only makes sense that demand is growing.

3. Waiting is not an option

In the future, consumers should know that waiting until their lunch breaks to try and preorder an iPhone just isn't the best idea. As soon as preorders are made available, Apple customers need to start hitting AT&T's servers. Not only does it cut down the chances of them being kept out of launch-day units, but it also helps guard against massive downtime that occurs later in the day. If nothing else, consumers learned this week that putting off preordering is never a good idea.

4. Going to stores isn't a bad idea

Some of the luckier iPhone customers decided to head to their local AT&T brick-and-mortar stores June 15 to place a preorder. Although folks were required to stand in long lines to order an iPhone 4, the majority of them were able to get their requests in. Those that tried to go to an AT&T store on June 16, though, were mostly turned away. For next year, consumers should keep that in mind. Maybe driving to a local AT&T store on preorder day is a better idea than trying to compete with millions across the United States on the Web.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...