updated 01:50 pm EDT, Tue November 2, 2010
Windows Phone 7 Euro launch hit by supply
The early days of Windows Phone 7 have been marked by international shortages, info from carriers revealed this weekend. Orange UK, but also other carriers, were told to only expect small quantities even from different brands like the HTC Mozart and Samsung Omnia 7. Mobile heard that, despite being a preferred Microsoft partner for the launch, Orange had to prioritize stock for pre-orders and flagship stores at the expense of others.
The low quantity led to a last-minute 'raincheck' for customers who had to be turned away, which gave them a £20 ($32) HMV coupon as compensation while they waited.
Reasons for the shortage haven't been explained, but an internal Orange e-mail had managers believing it was the result of a "manufacturer issue on a world-wide scale" and not one specific to the UK or any one carrier. Orange didn't confirm shortages itself, but Microsoft's UK mobile leed Alex Reeve acknowledged that there were "challenges with retail stock" in the first days that should have been cleared.
The constraint isn't likely to have been triggered by sheer demand, which was significant but triggered small lineups at best. One report from Orange's main London store saw just two people queue up early to buy devices. There was more press on-hand than actual customers, Pocket-lint recounted. Apple by contrast had its largest lines ever for the iPhone 4 and to this day still faces regular early morning queues at its retail stores.
Microsoft had already set modest expectations for the debut after recognizing that WP7 was a reset of its platform, but it has also committed to $500 million in marketing and has been hoping to garner early momentum.