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Apple: Early orders of iPhone 4 break records

Apple Inc. said Wednesday that it logged more than 600,000 early orders for the iPhone 4, a record, imposing a strain on computer systems and prompting carrier AT&T Inc. to suspend sales of the device before its June 24 debut.

The number of preorders was the largest Apple has taken in a single day, exceeding its expectations. AT&T and Apple started accepting orders for the phone Tuesday, with AT&T selling out all the devices it had allocated for early ordering.

AT&T, the exclusive U.S. carrier, also said it logged more than 13 million visits to a Web page where current customers can check if they're eligible for a subsidized upgrade. That number was three times higher than the previous record.

The iPhone 4 starts at $199. Customers who aren't eligible for upgrades will pay $200 more.

"Many customers were turned away or abandoned the process in frustration. We apologize to everyone who encountered difficulties," Apple said in a statement Wednesday.

The crush of orders sets the scene for long lines and potential chaos at stores when the next version of the iPhone is released. Judging by previous years, shortages could last through the summer.

By Wednesday morning, AT&T had stopped taking orders, saying it had to focus on fulfilling orders already received. Apple was accepting orders only for black models and would only guarantee shipment by July 2.

The surge in demand signals Apple chief executive Steve Jobs added enough features, such as video calling and a sharper screen, to make the new iPhone alluring even as rival phones using Google's Android software gain ground.

iPhone data

Facts and figures on the iPhone 4 onslaught

13 million - Visits to AT&T's Web page to check on subsidized upgrade to iPhone 4

2 - Available colors (black and white). Apple is now taking preorders only on the black models

June 24 - Date iPhone goes on sale

July 2 - Apple's guaranteed shipment date for preorders

$267.25 and $25.52 - Apple and AT&T share prices, respectively, as of Wednesday

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