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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nokia\'s New Lumia: In High Demand, or Just Short on Supply?

Nokia's new Lumia smartphone is about as difficult to buy in the United States as Apple's iPhone 5. In many online and brick-and-mortar stores, the Lumia 920 is sold out. But does that mean it's popular?

On Amazon.com, the Lumia 920 is labeled “backordered” with a shipping time of one to two weeks. In Manhattan, the phone is not available for an in-store pickup at any Best Buy location. This month, Nokia representatives even said the company was struggling to get the phones out to technology journalists who were interested in reviewing the device because there weren't enough to go around.

Nokia's last flagship phone, the Lumia 900, didn't sell very well here. Zacks Equity Research says the sold-out Lumia 920 is an early sign that Nokia has a “fighting chance” against Apple and the army of Android phones on the market.

But it's difficult to believe that the Lumia 920, an exclusive to AT&T in the United States, is drawing such a crowd. Tero Kuitti nen, an independent mobile analyst, says he thinks Nokia limited the supply of the Lumia here because it was aiming its first wave at Europe, where its smartphones have sold better in the past.

He noted that on Amazon, for instance, the Lumia 920 sold out just three days after it went on sale on Nov. 7, and the “backordered” status has stuck ever since - a sign that Nokia may simply be lowballing supply because it doesn't expect to sell many phones here.

Doug Dawson, a Nokia spokesman, declined to comment on whether the difficulty of buying the phone was related to unusually low supply. He said Nokia didn't have numbers to share about early sales.

“You can be very sure that we are working hard to meet the demand,” Mr. Dawson said.