AT&T Sorta, Kinda Limiting iPhone Sales In New York City (But You Can Still Get Them)

from the like-that-will-help dept

A bunch of folks are sending in variations on this story saying that AT&T has stopped its online sales of iPhones to anyone in New York City. This is fueling all sorts of speculation, given that the NYC market was one where there were quite a lot of complaints about congestion problems for iPhone users. Add to that a random AT&T customer service person telling Consumerist "New York is not ready for the iPhone", and you've got quite a story. AT&T's initial response (at the first link above) is amazing for its lack of anything resembling an explanation:
"We periodically modify our promotions and distribution channels," said Fletcher Cook, an AT&T spokesman.
Further investigation by some turned up that you can get new iPhones in New York if you go into stores, or if you are an existing customer looking to upgrade. Plus, it looks like if you order directly from Apple itself, you can buy an iPhone in New York. So, on the whole this sounds like some sort of inventory management issue that will probably be worked out pretty quickly, rather than some attempt to limit usage of iPhones in New York.


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  •  
    identicon
    Does, Dec 28th, 2009 @ 3:41am

    Well, the Droid is easily available here in Gotham, the iphone sucks anyway and AT&T is almost as bad a phone company as sprint. Just forget about the iphone and get a real phone.

     

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      zellamayzao (profile), Dec 28th, 2009 @ 4:22am

      Re:

      Yes on the whole AT&T does seem to suck as a phone company. Not to say the iphone sucks as a phone though. Ive got an Eris from Verizon and I love my phone, wouldnt trade it for the world.

      My wife has an Ipod touch and its pretty freaking sweet with what it does. The one feature it is lacking.....making phone calls would make it that much more awesome....or it would make it an iphone. Plus my dad just got an iphone and for his age and the easy learning curve the iphone has...He loves it too. Plus how easy it syncs with his mac. Not an Iphone spokesman or a apple troll...phones just do different things for different people

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Dec 28th, 2009 @ 8:38am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, I have to agree. If you don't like the iPhone, then so be it, and I'm sure there are lots of reasons - but to say it sucks or is not a "real phone" is clearly overstating the matter.

        Your comment about the learning curve for older users is very true too. Having watched my grandfather squint and grumble and poke awkwardly at a dozen different devices over the past decade, eventually throwing them aside in frustration, I was amazed to see how quickly he understood exactly what the iPhone was and how it worked. In fact, the very things that most people find incredible about it - accelerometer and multi-touch - were not really surprising or impressive to him because they were so intuitive. His reaction was more one of "well why the hell haven't they always made them like this?"

         

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          Derek Kerton (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 5:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Not just older users. I just took a video of my 2 year old deftly managing the iPhone to find her games. Power on, passcode login, home button, swipe menu pages, choose app, launch, play, switch app, etc.

          I took the video because I want to make a point, not about my daughter, but about UI and UX. If you make an advanced device that can do enterprise email, and about 100,000 other things, and a 2-yr old can work it without getting stuck or needing help (with basically no instruction)...then I would call that genius.

           

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    identicon
    The Anti-Mike, Dec 28th, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Oversell just causes more issues

    Mike I don't get it.

    The build out time for networking is longer than most of us would like. AT&T and almost every company is facing issues of high demand, beyond anything they could have projected. It isn't as easy to add bandwidth to cellular networks, certainly not an overnight job.

    The bandwidth issue isn't pipe to the towers, but rather the limited radio bandwidth available. There is only so much that exists. After that point, the solutions are incredibly expensive. You want to double bandwidth? You have to add a whole new cell tower / site and divide the area in 2. That isn't a one hour job. That is a fairly major undertaking, from site curveys, to located space to install the equipment, developing the network split, etc. That assumes that you can even get the equipment (suppliers are stretched to the limit, it seems).

    Is AT&T bad at network administration? It appears so, yeah. But it isn't something that can ever be fixed in a minute.

    So what I don't understand is this: You get all upset when an ISP oversells bandwidth and gets congestion, and now you are seemingly not pleased that AT&T is gently attempting to keep demand down a bit while it works to improve it's service. Is there anything an ISP can do that would please you?

     

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      zellamayzao, Dec 28th, 2009 @ 7:55am

      Re: Oversell just causes more issues

      He also concludes the post with the statement that it appears as though its an inventory management issue that will most likely be resolved quickly. He doesn't say at all he wants them to pop cell towers up over night or mention doubling bandwidth at all in the post.

      AT&T doesnt help its own cause out much saying New York isnt ready for the Iphone. They should have realized that years ago when it was released. Its a little late now to tell the entire city of New York that they cant handle the demand, be it inventory demand or strain on the network. AT&T continuously shoots itself in the foot when it comes to explaining itself to its customers. They say the cant handle the demand on the network so it may or may not limit supplies to a certain area, then it says they change up their promotions to certain areas and distribution amounts which is why there was a shortage in a particular area. Well which is it?

       

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      tracker1 (profile), Dec 28th, 2009 @ 9:32am

      Re: Oversell just causes more issues

      In most ISP cases, the congestion isn't that they are oversold so much as they will artificially limit traffic based on usage numbers, not on current usage factored by overall use. If ISPs implemented a rule, that on congestion, it would QOS users by the inverse of they prior month's bandwidth that would probably be fine. Essentially, I would put things in this order...

      1: mail ports to ISP mail,
      2: mail ports to other mail, aside from SMTP,
      3: http requests for the first 20KB
      4: low bandwidth users
      5: mid bandwidth users
      6: high bandwidth users

      This would let mail, and general web use flow, and give a higher QOS for low bandwidth users, then mid, then high for requests not specifically in 1-3. That would be general enough for QOS to work, without artificially limiting the bandwidth of a given user at a given time.

       

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        identicon
        The Anti-Mike, Dec 28th, 2009 @ 10:17am

        Re: Re: Oversell just causes more issues

        QoS management isn't really going to help as much here, as it is a question only of the bandwidth between the towers and the phones themselves. In wireless operations, that is the significant limiting factor, to the point that you can have what amounts to a DDoS created accidentally by having too many phones on a single tower. The number of requests gets so high that they aren't able to answer any of them.

        It is a real issue. AT&T is already facing issues (the infamous map) that they do not have enough coverage. So they are facing the issue of building out to offer some service in more places, or sending that equipment into the NY and other densely populated areas just to try to keep up with demand.

        It's a tough situation.

        zellamayzao: AT&T doesnt help its own cause out much saying New York isnt ready for the Iphone. They should have realized that years ago when it was released.

        I don't think that anyone (including Apple) considered at what level people would use their Iphones as a network device. I don't think they considered how much data would be used, how many interactive apps would be used, and how many people would use their Iphones in bandwidth intensive manners. The usage of smart phones is pretty much blowing away everyone's expectations. You cannot fault them, none of us had any idea what would happen, not even Mike.

         

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          Derek Kerton (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 5:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: Oversell just causes more issues

          " I don't think they considered how much data would be used, how many interactive apps would be used, and how many people would use their Iphones in bandwidth intensive manners. The usage of smart phones is pretty much blowing away everyone's expectations."

          Correct. Remember, that for the first year, Apple was against an open app platform, there was no app store, no apps, and the Youtube they offered was a limited inventory. Now, they have 100k apps in the catalog. Originally, the phone's data consumption was just browser, email, and limited Youtube. The success of mobile data, and the demand, was a surprise to the industry.

          BTW, AT&T is not alone, O2 in the UK is now also having capacity issues because of the iPhone.

           

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      identicon
      everyonehatesthephonecompany, Dec 28th, 2009 @ 11:58am

      Re: Oversell just causes more issues

      Perhaps the anti mike would be happy if the techdirt mike were happy about the way at&t goes about its business.

       

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    Bryan (profile), Dec 28th, 2009 @ 11:18am

    Fraud

    There was at least one reported a response (via consumerist I think) that online iPhone sales were suspended in NY due to a high rate of fraud in online orders.
    That would make sense as to why online orders are blocked, but you can purchase in store or through apple.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2009 @ 1:37pm

    Really?

    So, on the whole this sounds like some sort of inventory management issue that will probably be worked out pretty quickly, rather than some attempt to limit usage of iPhones in New York.

    What part of "New York is not ready for the iPhone" doesn't sound like "some attempt to limit usage of iPhones in New York"?

     

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    identicon
    Cell phone Reviews, Dec 28th, 2009 @ 11:16pm

    this is all just a lot of speculation about a bug? Surely it is possible the database that drives offers by ZIP code got fat fingered.

     

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