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Trade warns of Xmas handset shortage

Michael Garwood
October 25, 2010

Distributors warn of ‘extreme’ stock shortages in the channel ahead of Christmas

Handset distributors 20:20 Mobile and Data Select have warned of extreme stock shortages in the channel ahead of the Christmas sales rush.

Both Data Select and 20:20 Mobile claim also UK operator orders from manufacturers are unlikely to be met, and that they have been engaged to provide for a shortfall of handsets on the high street. They both say demand of them is high and supply is short.

Stock shortages have been blamed on the inability of manufacturers to source components for their devices. Limited supply of touchscreens and circuit boards for smartphones have been cited as key issues.

Data Select chief executive officer George McPherson said: “We cannot get everything we want. We already know that certain products lines are restricted. We can’t do anything about it. We are doing everything we can to be in a position of strength.”

20:20 Mobile purchasing and marketing director 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. Those who have waited longer than September to place orders are suffering.”

It was suggested by certain manufacturer sources last week 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 manufacturer source.

Shortages of lower-tier devices are claimed, also, however. Nokia warned its channels in July that component shortages were a major problem for the industry. Sony Ericsson chief executive Bert Nordberg suggested last week sales may be affected during the Christmas quarter due to shortages of LCD screens and printed circuit boards.

Distributors claim shortages of Nokia devices in particular, with limited supply of 1800, 2700, 2730, C7 and N8 Availability of the HTC Desire and Wildfire are constrained in the channel also. Sony Ericsson and Samsung stock is expected to be limited as well. There were no claims of shortages of Motorola or LG devices.

Nokia and Samsung claimed no shortages.

But both Data Select and 20:20 Mobile have requested dealer partners to get stock orders for Christmas in as soon as possible to stand a chance of supply. McPherson said:  “You have to forecast and plan now, because there is no point waking up on December 1 and having nothing to sell. It’s more important to plan this year than ever before.”

Data Select chief commercial officer Roy Taylor said: “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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