European mobile phone operator Orange is facing shortages of Windows Phone 7 handsets, and is offering vouchers to disappointed customers. The shortages could bode problems for the phone’s U.S. launch later this month.According to a report in Mobile Today, Orange sent an e-mail to managers of its retail stores warning of shortages for both the HTC Mozart and Samsung Omnia, and is offering 20-pound vouchers for customers who can’t get a phone they preordered.
The shortage is most likely caused by scarce supplies of the components used in touch screens. Shortages of AMOLED screens affected both HTC and Samsung this summer, and were widely blamed for short supplies of HTC’s Droid Incredible and Nexus One. HTC responded by replacing AMOLED with Sony’s Super LCD technology, which it’s using in the Mozart handset. For its part, Samsung is building a new factory to crank out more AMOLED screens, but it won’t open until 2011.
Conspiracy-minded folks at Microsoft joke that perhaps Google cornered the market on touch screen components to try and stall Windows Phone 7’s launch. Google and Samsung were rumoured to be launching a successor to the Nexus on November 8–the same day as Windows Phone 7 devices debut in the U.S.–but Samsung has denied the rumour.
Whatever the reason, the shortages at least show there’s interest in the new phones. For Microsoft, that’s better than the alternative.