AT&T Inc temporarily stopped selling the iPhone on its website to New York City residents over the weekend, raising fresh concerns about the wireless network's capacity in the Big Apple.
Consumers with Manhattan postal ZIP codes who attempted to purchase the Apple Inc phone through AT&T's website were told that the product was unavailable, according to a report on consumerist.com on Sunday.
Reuters received the same response when logging on with a New York ZIP code on Monday morning, though sales appear to have resumed in the afternoon.
A representative of AT&T would not say whether the company had resumed iPhone sales through the company website, declining to comment beyond a statement issued in an email earlier that said the company periodically modifies its promotions and distribution channels. The iPhone is available in our New York retail stores and those of our partners.
Sales representatives at Apple retail stores in Manhattan, reached by phone on Monday, said the iPhone was available, and an Apple corporate spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
IPhone owners, who have some of the biggest appetites for mobile Internet use, in particular have criticized AT&T's wireless network as being too slow.
Craig Mathias, a principal at wireless consulting firm Farpoint Group, said that all network carriers are struggling to cope with the rising popularity of wireless data services, which require more network capacity than standard voice calls.
When reports of the lack of iPhones emerged, he had speculated that AT&T may have been trying to ease congestion on its network in the wake of the holidays, when many consumers who received iPhones as gifts would start using the devices at the same time.
Apple's iPhone, a cell phone with computer-like capabilities such as Web browsing and video games, has become one of the most popular smartphones on the market.
We're expecting our handsets now to do everything we do while in the office or at home, said Mathias.
Mathias had said he expected that AT&T would resume selling iPhones to New Yorkers after the initial burst of post-holiday activity levels off.
If they're seriously out of gas and can't service any customers in that area, that is a major problem, he said.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Richard Chang)