Windows Phone 7 may be Microsoft's last chance to catch up in the mobile market, and already here's a bad piece of news for launch: There's a good chance potential customers will face shortages and have to be turned away. It's not due to demand, but instead to component shortages.
Mobile Magazine reports that the shortages have already hit Europe, where Windows Phone 7 devices went on sale on October 21. Microsoft's primary partner in the UK, Orange, has been giving out £20 vouchers to customers who ordered the phone but could not get them because of shortages. An email went out to Orange stores about the shortage before launch. Mobile Magazine quotes an Orange store manager as saying:
"I was shocked when I heard the news. We are the lead partner for Windows Phone 7. But I believe this is a manufacturer issue on a world-wide scale."
Business Insider says that "The shortage is likely caused by scarce supplies of the components used in touch screens."
And Seattle pi has this to say about the cause of the shortages:
"It's difficult to sort of understand where exactly" the shortages are, IDC mobile analyst Will Stofega said. "But what we've heard is some problems around display -- especially touch screens -- and even the cameras."
Seattle pi also warns that shortages in Europe most likely mean shortages in the U.S. as well:
In today's global economy, however, localized shortages are rare. If there's a shortage of Windows Phone 7 devices in Europe, there likely will be a shortage in North America for the launch.
The launch is already potentially problematic because Windows Phone 7 won't be carried by Verizon and Sprint. Shortages could make things even worse.