In a way, you can understand why AT&T did it. The big phone company with exclusive carrier rights for the iPhone has reportedly stopped selling the popular smartphone on its own website in the New York metropolitan area. Several websites have tried to get a straight answer out of the company and have received different reasons – from credit-card fraud to capacity problems. (You can still apparently buy the iPhone from an Apple or AT&T store). For the CNET story, click here. AT&T has acknowledged that heavy iPhone usage on its network has slowed down performance. It may also have led to an increase in dropped calls. So, the thinking may very well be: don’t make existing customers suffer more than they have already.
The bigger issue is how to fix the problem. And that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. AT&T reportedly has this exclusive carrier deal with Apple until sometime in 2010. The folks at Verizon are chomping at the bit to get a piece of the iPhone action. During a visit to a Verizon Wireless store recently, one sales associate told me Verizon employees expect to be selling the iPhone by next summer. If the exclusive arrangement goes away, there is little incentive for AT&T to spend money upgrading the network to handle more iPhones.