Shortage: Palms are hard to come by

Summary:A shortage of display and memory components is frustrating buyers looking to purchase Palm devices.

Where have all the Palms gone?

Many consumers hoping to buy a new Palm PDA are finding retailer's shelves bare and online shopping carts empty.

The Palm shortage, the company says, results from a combination of high seasonal demand and a shortage of LCD panels and flash memory, two critical components used to construct the devices. (The same shortages, as reported by ZDNet, are also affecting cellular phone handset vendors.)

ZDNet News found that Palm's Palm III and Palm V line of organizers are on back order or out of stock at Palm Inc.'s (palm) own Web store as well as other online resellers, such as Egghead.com. Brick and mortar retailers face similar problems.

These backlogs are estimated at "several weeks per product line," said Palm spokeswoman Marlene Somsak.

Somsak called the shortage of devices a "pleasant problem," explaining the company prefers it to an overabundance of devices and no customers.

"Everybody's having component problems. It's 'Dads and Grads' season right now ... and the devices are in high demand," she said. "Production has not slowed at all. Demands is out of balance (with supply) right now."

The tightness of supply of components is expected to continue for a few months, with some relief from the shortages expected in the company's June quarter, Somsak said.

As a result of the parts shortages, Palm has begun buying certain components in bulk, qualifying additional component suppliers and has also purchased some flash memory on the spot market, she said.

Palm partner Handspring Inc., at least for now, seems to be unaffected. The company's Web store on Tuesday listed all of its models as being in stock and available to ship within three to seven days.

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Hardware, Web development

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