Will HTC end up the biggest loser this summer?

June 18, 2010 - Written By Chris Yackulic

Android is hotter than ever. Google has made tremendous strides in the OS with the release of Android 2.1 and the forthcoming Android 2.2 Froyo release. There’s plenty of talk about how fragmentation is hurting Google, but a bigger issue that’s hurting adoption of the platform has been the inability of carriers to keep popular phones in stock. Both phones, the Droid Incredible and HTC EVO 4G, are both manufactured by HTC. With the Droid X coming, will HTC be the biggest loser in the Android wars this summer?

In April, Verizon released the Droid Incredible, manufactured by HTC. It launched with glowing reviews and was sold out relatively quickly. This situation hasn’t changed much since April. While we don’t have any concrete numbers on devices shipped to Verizon over the past few months, it hasn’t been enough to meet demand. The situation is only getting worse, with the wait now well over a month. If you order a Droid Incredible from Verizon Wireless, the device will ship by July 14th. That’s almost a cool month before you can get a Droid Incredible, a device that was released almost 2 months ago. The Droid was Verizon’s biggest seller, so why wouldn’t they anticipate big sales for the Droid Incredible? Perhaps they did, but HTC simply cannot meet demand. Either way, Verizon customers are left sitting on the sideline or jumping ship. With the Droid X rumored for a July 19th release, you might start to see customers waiting for the new Motorola phone.

This issue isn’t just Verizon’s problem. Sprint‘s EVO 4G, also manufactured by HTC, is the world’s first 4G phone. Again, great reviews and major buzz. If you want to buy the HTC EVO 4G from Sprint’s online site, you are out of luck. A message reads, “Sold out, check back later – more on the way“. As if to keep you waiting, and not shop elsewhere,  Sprint also includes this message confirming the hotness of the device.

Sorry, this device is so hot we can’t keep it on our virtual shelves.

Check back later – more are on their way!

It’s great that Sprint is having success with the HTC EVO 4G and that it “can’t keep it on their virtual shelves“. While Verizon doesn’t include this added marketing speak, their Droid Incredible is suffering from the same hotness. In the end, that doesn’t help get phones in peoples hands.

So we’ve got two hot Android devices, both out of stock during a timeframe that both Sprint and Verizon could be selling devices like hotcakes. That window of opportunity is closing and fast. Apple’s iPhone 4 will go on sale next week and that’s a juggernaut. It still remains to be seen if Apple will be able to keep the iPhone 4 in stock, considering they sold out of pre-orders on day one. The biggest loser here might just be HTC. They have two hot phones on two carriers, both desperate to get more phones on the shelf. Right now, they are competing with older phones, such as Verizon’s original Droid. That will likely keep folks waiting for stock of the Incredible. The EVO 4G is still the big fish in Sprint’s pond, so again limited choices for those who cannot procure an EVO. Being the only 4G phone will also help keep this as the “phone to get” on Sprint.  For those who don’t mind switching carriers, another big display Android device will stir things up.  Next Wednesday Verizon will introduce the Droid X. If Motorola is able to deliver this phone soon and in mass quantities, it could be the new Android flavor of the week. This industry moves fast. Having a popular phone doesn’t secure success. You need to get them on the shelves. There will be no shortage of hot phones this summer, but the real winner will be the phone that customers can actually buy.