The latest smartphone OS from Microsoft has barely even reached a month of age, but both OEMs and carriers are already warning that there will be some serious shortage of handsets powered by the Windows Phone 7 OS. What could be going on over at the supply chain?
When was the last time Microsoft had a product that was guaranteed to be an instant sellout at the very moment it was launched? For some, the mere act of placing the words ‘sellout’ together with ‘Microsoft’ may analogous to mixing oil and water together, but the facts speak for themselves.
Apparently, handset OEMs and carriers are warning customers that they may not be able to ship sufficient quantities of Windows Phone 7-powered handsets to meet the current demand. Curiously, there has not been any official comment about what may be causing the supply shortage to happen, although it is worth pointing out that many of the components used in the assembly and manufacturing of such handsets are usually prone to sudden supply draughts. Of note of the recent AMOLED supply shortage, which was serious enough to halt sales of Motorola’s Droid in its tracks and force HTC into using TFT screens instead for its handsets.
However, it appears that Microsoft had already gotten wind about a potential supply shortage even before its smartphone OS was launched. According to SlashGear, the software giant had repeatedly reminded large carriers like Orangue UK that stocks for such handsets had to be meticulously prioritized. Only those who had pre-ordered the devices will get first dibs on the latest shipments, while the carriers themselves were ranked second on the priority list, with small-time retailers placing a distant third.
But even then, it seems that Microsoft’s steps to ensure that its handsets start rolling out to customers in the shortest time possible are not as effective as it may have hoped. SlashGear claims that the current shortage is not limited only to the US or European regions, but has spread to include carriers and manufacturers from all over the world. This has prompted a wave of conspiracy theories about Microsoft intentionally downplaying the popularity of its smartphone OS and deliberately encouraging OEMs to engineer such a shortage, ostensibly in order to gain some media limelight about the demand for its mobile OS.
Of course, it is highly unlikely that Microsoft will sink to such levels just to shore up support for its new OS. But then, there is nothing like a little conspiracy theory to keep things interesting for both Microsoft, OEMs and readers.