Struggling to get your hands on the elusive Nexus 4 smart phone? LG says that's because it's so popular, citing "huge demand" when CNET UK asked about the phone's gloomy supply situation.
The LG-built Nexus 4 went on sale in mid-November, but sold out in half an hour. It was briefly back in stock on Tuesday, but by Wednesday morning the 8GB version was already out of stock again. I contacted LG with a few inventory-related questions.
When asked whether LG knows why Google is running out of Nexus 4 stock, Andy Coughlin, the head of mobile at LG UK, said the phone "had proven extremely popular, and as such retailers have been met with huge demand".
"We are working closely with Google to ensure that those who wish to purchase a handset are able to do so," Coughlin added.
'Demand via the Play Store has been very high'
Popularity is one thing, but selling out so quickly has left Android fans who wanted to buy the phone fuming. Perhaps Google didn't buy enough phones?
I asked whether LG has agreed with Google the level of Nexus 4 stock that will be sold through the Google Play store, and the amount to be sold through other channels.
"As with any sales process, LG supplies product quantities against partners'/customers' (ie retailers, operators etc) forecasts," Coughlin explained, going on to say, "demand via the Play Store has been very high in this instance."
To me that suggests Google may have aimed too low when it ordered its early batches of phones -- something LG confirmed happens directly through LG's headquarters in Seoul. Perhaps the Big G didn't expect its new phone to be quite so popular, and forecasted less demand than is actually out there.
There are worse problems than being too popular of course, but desperately low supplies have tainted the launch of the otherwise jaw-dropping Nexus 4. Google's £239 pricetag for its Galaxy S3-rivalling smart phone makes it one of the year's most exciting devices, but if people aren't even able to throw cash Google's way to get one, its success could prove limited.
'Good for Google'
You can still get the Nexus 4 from operators, though you'll end up paying more money than you would if you bought from Google. Three sells the Nexus 4 for £400 plus a top-up on pay as you go, for example. I asked LG why the phone cost more from non-Google retailers, and was told, "The retail price of LG products is decided by individual retailers."
Ian Fogg, mobile media senior principal analyst for IHS, said, "It's hard to say whether Google underestimated demand, or whether they chose simply to have a number of devices available," also commenting that regardless of stock shortages, "the fact that the Nexus 4 is high profile is good for Google".
"All of this raises the public profile of Android," Fogg said. "All of this helps Google's strategic objectives."
I asked Google about the Nexus 4 stock shortages and when we could expect new stock (a request sent prior to the restock earlier this week), but it didn't have an on-record statement to share.