I’ve just gotten home after a very long day.
Pre orders for the new Apple iPhone 4 started today across the globe and Japan was right at the head of the line with lines forming outside Softbank stores, Apple Retails stores, and electronics and cellphone shops across Japan.
Here’s a video I shot from outside of the Softbank iPhone Flagship store in Omotesando. (Sorry for the jerky footage).
At 5pm, pre-orders began in stores as well as online, but with just half an hour we began to get the feeling something was wrong. After the initial batch of customers were brought into the stores, a significant amount of time seemed to pass without any additional people being brought in to fill out the reservation forms.
Checking on twitter, the same complaints were being broadcast from seemingly everywhere. Even worse, complaints started to appear from people trying to register online. Everything seemed to stop.
While the iPhone Store in Omotesando continued to bring in people, the pace was notably slow. With Over thirty desks set up to handle the reservations, it seemed that each customer was taking nearly half an hour, just to fill in a few forms. At other stores, things just stopped completely.
Word then started to spread that the computers were down. It seems that the incredible load of orders from stores across Japan as well as a massive amount of people trying desperately to order online was locking the entire system up. Some stores stopped taking pre-orders altogether, while others issued tickets to those waiting in line so give them priority should they leave and try again tomorrow.
In the end I made it through the line. I figure about 400 or more made it all the way at the Omotesando store, less I am sure than they had been hoping for. But still, at least the valiant staff never gave up.
Just a short while ago, Masayoshi Son, the president of Softbank, tweeted out an apology. Along with a heartfelt apology, he explained that the problem was due to the servers being overwhelmed in the Kanto and Kyushu regions of Japan.
I’m not sure how many people were able to successfully pre-order today, but I am sure it’s less than had hoped to. One thing is for certain, the interest in Apple’s newest iteration to the iPhone line has surpassed even the carriers predictions, and we are still over a week away from launch.
Word from Softbank staff as they were closing up the store was that pre-orders will continue tomorrow, but in store and on-line, but no firm commitment that the servers would be immune from a repeat disappointment.