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First Windows Phone 7 handsets sell out

Orange offering £20 for customer patience

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The first Windows 7 handsets are flying out of shops faster than they can be supplied.

Orange has started pre-booking for handsets, and is offering customers £20 HMV vouchers to help them cope with the wait while new stocks come in. Meanwhile, HTC and Samsung handsets are selling out as they fast as they can be shipped to the stores.

Quite where the problem lies isn't clear: a shortage of the AMOLED screens so beloved by Samsung has been fingered as causing problems with the Omnia 7, while HTC seems to be having some software problems with its pair of Windows Phone 7 handsets. But what is clear is that this isn't an artificial shortage created to give the impression of popularity, attractive as that explanation might be.

Operators are frustrated by the delays, knowing that consumers eager to get their hands on a new toy can be easily distracted by equally shiny competitors, though much of the press seems surprisingly unaware of Microsoft's new consumer focus.

Typical of this is News Factor, which quotes an analyst at Pund-IT explaining: "For business-centric devices like Phone 7 phones, a delay of a week or three seems a minor blip... it's unlikely that many executives go weeping to bed if they don't get their new smartphones in a timely manner."

Unfortunately Windows Phone 7 isn't aimed at executives, but at those who might otherwise pick up an iPhone. One might imagine that network operators wouldn't care either way, but competing platforms is always to their advantage, and Microsoft has promised that operator billing for applications is a possibility - more than Apple has ever offered.

It does appear that Windows Phone 7 is more popular than retailers or the networks anticipated, which will be welcome news in Redmond even if the manufacturers are struggling to meet that demand. ®

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