Many people on all sides of this equation aren’t happy. HTC EVO 4G owners can’t get replacement phones if Sprint can’t keep them in stock. Would-be EVO owners remain on the sidelines waiting for supply to come to terms with demand. HTC’s missing out on shipping one of the hottest devices in America, and Sprint can’t move along with their 4G strategy if they don’t have phones to support it.
Dan Hesse – perhaps one of the most outspoken high-level executives of all the major US carriers – echoes the woes speaking to the Wall Street Journal: “We thought we would have more of a head start than we’ll end up having.” Their strategy of wanting to be named the “first” for having a standards-compliant 4G network came with the obvious pitfalls of not having enough devices to take advantage of the network as well as a very staggered, slow rollout overall.
The strategy doesn’t just help their bragging rights, either. Sprint hoped that the introduction of their first 4G devices would spur subscriber rates as they tacked on the controversial “$10 fee” to use these “data-hungry” phones. Whether or not that $10 charge is technically justified is an entirely different argument in and of itself, but the 300,000 or so customers that have supposedly scooped the EVO up don’t seem to mind it, and I’m sure Sprint wouldn’t mind it if they could truly meet demand and expand potential.
Shortages are said to come from Samsung being unable to produce enough screens at a faster rate. Previously, it was believed that the problem only plagued devices using AMOLED screens such as the HTC Droid Incredible. HTC’s lining up more partners with different technology (namely Sony with their Super TFT LCD display) to make sure this doesn’t happen with devices they’re planning to launch in the future. It’s unsure if their moves will help to eradicate the severe shortage issues they’re already facing with two of their biggest offerings in America.
As Verizon and AT&T prepare a strong push for LTE – as well as T-Mobile banking on HSPA+ to keep their network afloat until they’re ready to get in on the action – Sprint’s got a lot of work to do if they want to keep themselves in a position to take on their competition, network wise. It all starts with the phones, and – unfortunately for Sprint – they just can’t seem to get enough.