Sizzling Summer Smartphones Suffer Supply Shortages


The Apple iPhone 4. The Sprint HTC EVO 4G. The HTC Droid Incredible.

What do these three smartphones have in common, other than being the hottest smartphones of the year so far? They're all becoming increasingly more difficult, and in some cases downright impossible, to find.

Typically, device makers prep their latest and greatest smartphone weapons looking forward to a summer smartphone showdown. This summer, however, is shaping up to be more the summer of smartphone scarcity.

The Apple iPhone 4 started the downward tumble into device deficiency when it's pre-order went live June 15. Apple and carrier AT&T quickly blew through supply. The pre-sale was so swift that AT&T ceased accepting pre-orders altogether and Apple, which originally guaranteed pre-ordered iPhone 4s would be in users' hands by June 24 had to continually push the delivery date; first to July 2, then to July 12. As of today, Apple's Web site said the Apple iPhone 4 will ship in three weeks. That comes after Apple sold a whopping 1.7 million iPhone 4s in its first three days.

Then there's the iPhone 4's chief rival, the Sprint HTC EVO 4G, the first smartphone to leverage the high-speed 4G network. Many industry watchers predicted the Apple iPhone 4 and HTC EVO 4G would duke it out in the battle of the touch-screen titans this summer, but that's only possible if the devices are actually on store shelves (or available online). The HTC EVO 4G marked the fastest selling smartphone in Sprint history. According to Sprint's Web site, the HTC EVO 4G is currently sold out and has been for weeks. Users looking to scoop up the device on Sprint's Web site are met with the bad news: "Sorry, this device is so hot we can't keep it on our virtual shelves. Check back later – more are on the way!"

Lastly there's the Verizon HTC Droid Incredible, the latest Google Android smartphone that has been on sale since April, but is currently backordered. Verizon's Web store indicates: "Due to high demand, this device will ship by 8/10."

The carriers and device makers are pointing the finger of smartphone underage to stronger than anticipated demand. It is also notable that each smartphone suffering the shortfall runs roughly $200 and requires a two-year carrier contract, a pretty penny that is bucking the trend in a downed economy.

And while the big three are facing supply deficiency hurdles, more smartphone scorchers are on the way as the gadget-hungry masses prepare for the Samsung Galaxy S series, which will hit all U.S. carriers later this summer, and the Google Android Motorola Droid X on Verizon, which is set to be released this week.