Well, that's one way to cut down on mobile data traffic in New York. The iPhone is no longer available for sale via the AT&T Web site for residents in the New York metro area, according to widespread reports online late Sunday and Monday.
People with ZIP codes in New York City, Westchester County and New Jersey suburbs who try to buy the Apple smartphone through the AT&T site receive a message that the device is "not available in your area."
Asked about iPhone sales being blocked on its site for New York residents, AT&T issued a statement, saying: "We periodically modify our promotions and distribution channels. The iPhone is available in our New York retail stores and those of our partners."
The Consumerist, the blog first reporting the halt to online sales, was initially told by an AT&T representative that the iPhone wasn't offered "because New York is not ready for the iPhone." The New York Times was subsequently told the iPhone wasn't available in certain ZIP codes "due to increased fraudulent activity," before being given the latest explanation about AT&T changing its promotions and distribution methods.
Whatever the reason, the incident won't do much to dispel the view that AT&T is having a hard time keeping up with demand from heavy data-consuming iPhone users, especially in major markets like New York and San Francisco. Earlier this month, Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of mobility and consumer markets at AT&T, promised to improve service soon in the two iPhone-centric cities through various network upgrades being undertaken into next year.
He also suggested AT&T might have to consider some type of usage-based pricing for smartphone users to help reduce the strain on its overtaxed network.
AT&T on Monday did not say whether, or when, the iPhone would be available again through its online store for New York area consumers.
Update: By Monday afternoon, New York area residents were again able to purchase iPhones through AT&T's site. The company had no further comment on iPhone sales being temporarily suspended on the site.