iPhone 4 rollout a mess -- but will anyone care?

The release of Apple’s latest iPhone has been—to put it politely—a rather comical occurrence.

First there was the June 15 pre-order, which was marked by frustrating server problems and, not long into the day, a complete dearth of availability.

Oh, and the fact that the white iPhone 4 model was, inexplicably, not even offered for pre-ordering. At least until Apple explained it on Wednesday with a press release:

White models of Apple’s new iPhone 4 have proven more challenging to manufacture than expected, and as a result they will not be available until the second half of July. The availability of the more popular iPhone 4 black models is not affected.

Call me a cynic, but I’m guessing that Apple’s description of the black model as “more popular” has something to do with that fact that it’s actually available for people to purchase.

And that brings us to actually getting the iPhone 4. The lucky people who managed to snag a pre-order early on June 15 (at least through Apple) were promised either delivery or the ability to pick up the phone at a local Apple Store on June 24. On June 22, however, people began reporting early arrival of their shipped iPhones. And as of Wednesday, scores of people were unpacking their precious FedEx deliveries.

Yet those of us who managed to snag a pre-order for Apple Store pickup (like, say, most of us at Macworld) will need to wait until Thursday to stand in line to get the iPhones that many people already have. Why Apple decided to let FedEx deliver shipments prior to launch day is odd and, well, very un-Apple. But I guess when reviewers have already had a week and half to play with the iPhone 4 and posted their reviews online, there’s not much point in holding back the fleet of white trucks.

So yes, it’s been somewhat of a mess (and we’re not even at launch day yet). But the question here is, how much difference will it make? On June 15, Apple took in more than 600,000 pre-orders. That’s a lot. Once those people—and the many, many others who still want one—have the new iPhone in their hot little hands, how many of us are going to remember the hiccups, however chest-rattling? I suspect that most people will give Apple and AT&T a pass when they’re busy shooting 720p video or chatting with their family using FaceTime. At least until AT&T drops a phone call or two.

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