Some of Europe's largest handset distributors are issuing warnings of 'extreme' stock shortages in the sales channel in the build up to Christmas. The firms are blaming these predicted shortfalls on the inability of manufacturers to source components for their devices.
The major issue is the limited supply of touchscreens and circuit boards for smartphones. The purchasing and marketing director of 20:20 Mobile (a large UK-based distributor), Andrew Peat, said: "The market is very short on stock. There appears to be a shortage of touchscreens in particular. Allocations for Christmas are very tight, and those who have waited later than September to place orders are suffering."
Operators are also said to be experiencing low stock levels, claiming demand is high and supply is short.
However, talk within the industry suggests that Apple has been given unofficial priority for device components. "Apple is getting first allocation of stock, which is creating some of the shortage," said one insider.
Earlier this year, Nokia and Sony Ericsson warned that component shortages were becoming a major problem for the industry, with Sony Ericsson CEO, Bert Nordberg, reinforcing concerns about the problem by suggesting last week sales may be affected during the Christmas quarter due to shortages of LCD screens and printed circuit boards.
While Nokia and Samsung have stated they are not experiencing stock problems, distributors claim that certain Nokia models are in short supply, with only limited access to 1800, 2700, 2730, C7 and N8 models. Availability of the HTC Desire and Wildfire is constrained, Sony Ericsson and Samsung stock is expected to be limited but Motorola and LG are thought to have good stock levels.
Distributors are requesting dealers to place their Christmas order now to stand a chance of supply. A leading distributor, Data Select, commented: "It's an industry-wide issue. Most manufacturers claim shortages every year but there never is. This year, we are already experiencing shortages."
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