Worst handset shortage in 20 years, says distributor

A leading distributor of handsets claims that mobile phone stock shortages will become a global issue as the market moves into 2011. The lack of supply, the worst experienced in 20 years, is being caused by increasing demand for components common to a range of consumer electronics devices.

The chairman of Brightpoint, Robert Laikin, said that his distribution company was seeing strong consumer demand for smartphones around the globe that, combined with a lack of vital components, would lead to a distinct scarcity of handsets in the new year.

"Demand is so strong that we have seen, for the first time I can remember in 21 years in this industry, price increases from manufacturers," said Laikin.

"The increases have been small, but they are increases. And that gives you an idea of just how strong demand is right now. To be honest, we wish we had access to inventory, specifically on the smart side, because demand is so strong."

Laiken added that this shortage was not restricted to small pockets in Europe, Asia or the US, or with one particular operator or manufacturer. "It is right across the line. Demand for smartphones, with all the new launches recently, is unbelievably strong right now."

While not identifying specific items, the company said that component shortages were impacting smartphones, camera phones, low-end phones, tablets and other consumer electronics products.

However, Laikin admitted that the distribution industry could manage the demand through the Christmas quarter without huge issues. "We aren't [currently] seeing issues and we don't anticipate them until the first quarter of 2011, when demand will be unable to be fulfilled by supply."

For more:
- see this Mobile News article

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