Orange hit by Windows Phone 7 handset shortages

Orange, the lead operator behind the launch of Windows Phone 7 (WP7), has been hit by significant handset stock shortages, threatening to damage Microsoft's attempt to regain market share after several years of decline.

While other operators are also thought to be experiencing the same problem, Orange has faced up to the problem and is offering customers that have pre-ordered a WP7 phone a €25 goodwill voucher.

This distribution 'hiccup' will be particularly embarrassing for Orange given the high-profile advertising campaign it has been conducting promoting WP7-based handsets. Its larger city-centre retail stores had been given priority for handsets, together with other major outlets with high numbers of WP7 pre-orders.

One Orange retail manager commented: "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 worldwide scale."

An internal email admitted that Orange would be launching WP7 with limited amounts of the HTC 7 Mozart and the Samsung Omnia 7 phones.

Microsoft said that it had started selling the first WP7 phones in Europe and Asia-Pacific on 21st October, but has admitted that the company had experienced "some challenges with retail stock in the first few days, but it is now flowing much more freely."

Meanwhile, Microsoft exec Guy Gilbert has revealed that every Microsoft employee is getting a WP7 handset. While he didn't say which devices were being distributed, the exec said all 89,000 core workers would have a phone.

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