So who else ordered an iPhone 6 in the middle of the night?

Pre-orders for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus officially kicked off at midnight this morning. That’s Pacific Time, given Apple’s home base in California. So where I live on the East Coast, it was 3 AM. And since my son’s birthday was yesterday, I offered to contribute part of the costs toward a new iPhone 6 Plus for him; he has an iPhone 5 now. Of course, that also meant I was the one to set an alarm for 2:45 AM.

Apple's newest phones: iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 6. Photo by Tom Krazit/Gigaom

Apple’s newest phones: iPhone 6 Plus and the iPhone 6. Photo by Tom Krazit/Gigaom

Based on my Twitter stream, I wasn’t the only one hitting the [company]Apple[/company] Store early. Surprise! OK, maybe not.

The real surprise was the challenge to actually place a pre-order: I was online from 2:50 to 4:05 in the morning and the [company]Apple[/company] Store website never loaded past the “We’ll be back” message when the store is down.

Others saw much the same according to their tweets, although people were reporting success with the carrier websites.

In the end — thanks to a suggest from my Twitter-mates — I was able to get a pre-order in for a 16 GB Gold iPhone 6 Plus on [company]AT&T[/company], but not from my computer. It turns out the Apple Store app for iOS was generally working fine for people who couldn’t sleep and my iPad was within an arm’s reach as I, like so many others, was furiously hitting the refresh button on a computer. The phone is due to arrive next Friday.

That order went through around 4 AM and for AT&T customers, that was actually the only Plus configuration available at the time, direct from Apple. I didn’t check other carriers, but I suspect the hints, leaks and rumors of supply constraints for the larger iPhone model may be true.

iphone 6 plus inventory

As I wrote this post, I checked the Apple Store site — sure, now it’s up and running! — and no matter what option I choose, the iPhone 6 Plus availability is 3-4 weeks out. Again, it’s possible that carriers still have remaining stock. A quick check of the smaller iPhone 6 for various carriers and configurations shows plenty of availability; you can still order one today and have it in hand next Friday.

This isn’t the first time I woke early to pre-order a new iPhone, but for some reason, it was the most frustrating. Yes, there’s high demand to be among the first to have the latest Apple handset; that’s to be expected. I really didn’t expect the Apple Store to basically be down for as long as it was. I have no idea when it finally returned since I got my order in and went back to bed just after 4 AM. And the website wasn’t an issue just for me or localized to the East Coast; based on Twitter, people in every U.S. time zone saw the same.

Apple prides itself on the customer experience, so hearing that carrier websites were fulfilling orders while many saw “We’ll be back” in their browser was new to me. I’ll be curious to see if Apple offers any explanation other the expected “unprecedented demand” status.