Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 hits supply snags in U.S.
© Samsung

© Samsung

Supply issues have snarled the U.S. rollout of Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s latest flagship smartphone, , the wireless service providers said on Wednesday.

Samsung Electronics Co has confirmed it is having difficulty meeting higher-than-expected demand for its latest flagship smartphone, the new Galaxy S4, days ahead of its hotly anticipated global launch.

In a statement, Samsung said the Galaxy S4 will go on sale at carriers Sprint and T-Mobile later than expected and attributed the disruption to unexpectedly strong demand for the Galaxy S4, the South Korean company’s direct challenge to Apple Inc’s iPhone.

“Demand is far stronger than we had expected and as a result we are having difficulties in fully meeting initial supply requests,” Lee Don-joo, head of sales and marketing at Samsung’s mobile business, told reporters in Seoul.

He said the global launch would go ahead as planned on Saturday with carriers which had agreed to receive the initial supply. The phones would be shipped to other operators once network tests had been completed.

Mr Lee’s comments came a day after top US carriers said they would start selling the new handset online a few days later than originally planned.

T-Mobile will take online orders from Saturday, instead of Wednesday as initially planned, because of “an unexpected delay with inventory deliveries”. Sprint will take online orders from Saturday as planned, but the phone will hit the shelves at retail outlets only as it becomes available.  At T-Mobile, online orders will now begin April 29 instead of Wednesday as initially planned because of “an unexpected delay with inventory deliveries.” Sprint will take online orders starting Saturday as planned, but the phone will be sold at retail outlets only as it becomes available. AT&T, on the other hand, said everything was on track and the S4 would go on sale this Saturday as planned.

Samsung unveiled the upgraded Galaxy S4 in New York last month to much fanfare. The new phone, which is slimmer than its predecessor with a 5-inch touch screen and a larger capacity battery, has received mixed reviews so far but analysts predict it could sell 10m units in its first month as it goes on sale across more than 150 countries. Its predecessor, rolled out in May last year, has sold more than 50m units globally through mid-March.

Industry watchers have said the success of the S4 could hinge on a supply back-up plan aimed at preventing a repeat of costly problems encountered in the launch of its premium smartphone last year.

Some analysts predict the new Galaxy could top 10 million unit sales in the first month after its launch, so any hiccups in the smooth delivery of core components could be disastrous.

The risks are high. A simple manufacturing error involving unsatisfactory design of handset cases cost Samsung 2 million units of lost sales in just a month after it launched the S III in May last year.

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