The iPhone 4 was finally released today, capping off one of the strangest launches in Apple’s history. First, Gizmodo got a nearly-complete prototype and paraded it before the world. That site’s editor had his house raided by police, and the poor Apple employee who lost the prototype in the first place was the butt of jokes on The Late Show and offered a free trip to Germany.
Days later, more prototypes showed up in Vietnam. Eventually Steve Jobs demonstrated the thing at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference, where a network glitch forced him to skip a large part of his demo.
On June 15th, Apple and AT&T processed 600,000 pre-orders, despite widespread network issues that left many would-be customers frustrated. Sales were so high 1 that shipping dates had to be adjusted and AT&T suspended pre-orders entirely.
Today, outlets like Best Buy and Radio Shack had significantly fewer iPhones than they expected (several had less than 5) and turned customers away. AT&T stores had no stock for walk-in customers at all. At Apple Stores, sales were brisk while lines were tremendously long.
An odd reception issue that seems to be unique to left-handed customers marred the experience for some while others noticed a yellow splotch on their displays. It turns out that the reception issue can be fixed with a case 2 while the smudge can be “repaired” with patience.
Finally, Apple announced that it can’t make any white iPhones for a month.
At the end of the day, people are enjoying their new iPhones, making FaceTime calls and trying out iOS 4-optimized apps. Soon we’ll forget how strange this whole ordeal was. But for now … what an odd launch.