Preorder problems trip up iPhone 4S sales in U.S.

History repeated itself this morning, with the iPhone 4S preordering process getting off to what can only be described as a bumpy start in the U.S.

Despite the promise of a 12:01 a.m. PT starting time for preorder sales from Apple and its carrier partners, Apple’s store experienced intermittent errors shortly after that deadline. Its online doors opened about 45 minutes after that to let people order the company’s new top-end smartphone.

AT&T took even longer to begin offering preorders, and some would-be Sprint customers reported delays of two hours trying to place their preorders. Separately, both Apple and AT&T’s sites showed error messages for customers who wanted to upgrade their device. Apple later switched from its preorder mechanism to a reservation system to let buyers reserve a device and fill out eligibility and billing information at a later date. With the reservations system, Apple still promised to deliver the iPhone by the company’s original ship date.

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