HTC Evo shortages may hinder Sprint's 4G lead

Shortages of the HTC Evo 4G phone are wreaking havoc on Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) plans to jump past its competitors with a 4G handset. Sprint had hoped the HTC Evo would help it snatch customers away from rivals such as AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), which won't have LTE networks up and running until late 2010 (Verizon) or 2011 (AT&T).

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse admitted the company had hoped to have more of a headstart in attracting consumers to its 4G service than it will probably end up having. So far, Sprint has sold 300,000 Evo 4G phones, according to the Macquarie Group. Even though demand for the device has been strong, manufacturer HTC has not been able to keep up. The Evo is currently delayed without a ship date on Sprint's website.

Hesse and other Sprint executives have incentive to make the company's 4G network strategy a success: Sprint recently decided to tie executive compensation more closely to the company's 4G success, and now 20 percent of executive bonuses are tied to 4G subscriptions.

Sprint isn't the only carrier suffering gadget shortages. Last week Verizon Wireless had to once again push back its ship date for customers ordering the HTC Droid Incredible, due to intense demand for the high-end smartphone. The carrier said orders now will begin shipping Aug. 3. In late May, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam blamed the situation on component shortages, specifically the phone's AMOLED screen made by Samsung.   

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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