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Technical problems at the Apple and AT&T websites prevented customers from placing pre-orders for the most recent version of iPhone set to hit the market later this month. AT&T customers reported seeing the private account information of other subscribers while trying to buy the iPhone 4.
An attempt by to pre-order the phone on AT&T's website generated the following error message: "There was a problem with your request. "We're sorry, but we are experiencing a system error that prevents us from completing your request."
Apple's website said the request could not be processed, and it suggested the customer try again later.
Apple did not respond to questions about the website issues that provoked complaints by customers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.
At a Los Angeles AT&T store, customer Bobby Hicks said he decided to try to order in person after failing online. The filmmaker said he had been waiting 35 minutes.
Customers waiting at AT&T stores in San Francisco and New York voiced similar complaints.
In San Francisco, about 20 people waited mid-morning outside an AT&T wireless store and a clerk said the systems had been overwhelmed and were running more slowly than usual.
Kevin Wong, a systems engineer waiting at the San Francisco store, said he had been in line for about 20 minutes after he was unable to buy the device online.
"It bothers me, but what can you do? You've got to wait in line. It's better than the DMV," he said referring to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, which is notorious for long wait times.
The new iPhone starts at $199 and is slimmer than the current handset. It boasts a higher quality screen and better battery life. It will allow video chat via Wi-Fi for the first time and has a gyroscope sensor for improved gaming.
Brian Marshall, an analyst for Gleacher & Co, formerly known as Broadpoint Amtech, said the online overload may be partly due to consumers becoming smarter about ordering online rather than camping out for hours or days at stores to buy iPhone.
"People are a little bit wiser about efficient use of time," he said.
Apple shares rose $5.41 at $259.69 on the Nasdaq. AT&T shares rose 37 cents at $25.54 on New York Stock Exchange. (Additional reporting by Caroline Madrid in Los Angeles and Paul Thomasch in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Leslie Gevirtz, Grant McCool and Balazs Koranyi)