Demand outstrips supply on Nokia 3G phone

3GSM: The head of Carphone Warehouse says that sales of the Nokia 7600 have 'greatly exceeded expectations'

Nokia handsets for use on the first 3G networks in Europe provided by 3 are in very strong demand, according to comments from the boss of the continent's largest mobile retailer.

Charles Dunstone, Carphone Warehouse CEO, this morning said his company cannot satisfy demand for Nokia 7600 terminals on 3 networks in the UK and Sweden, which are units of Hutchison Whampoa.

Speaking at this week's 3GSM World Congress in Cannes, he said: "The barrier to 3G has been handsets [size and performance]. We had high hopes for sales but in reality sales [of the Nokia phones] have greatly exceeded our expectations."

He went on to say that as they are manufactured in the Far East, there must be "planes flying in to London and Stockholm to satisfy demand".

The 7600 is sold by Carphone Warehouse but not directly by 3, as it doesn't support all the operator's services, most notably video calling. However, there is clearly much greater demand than that for existing offerings from Motorola and NEC, which customers have complained are too big, have low battery life and generally are a step back from current GSM phones.

Dunstone was generally positive about progress in the mobile industry, singling out the success of the Blackberry email device from RIM and saying Apple's iPod may go down as a turning point. "It has begun the idea that you download content," he said, and predicted phones may end up doubling as iPod-like devices.

However, he criticised mobile content offerings, often in the form of services such as Active from O2, Live! From Vodafone, OrangeWorld and T-Mobile's T-Zones, saying content is often not exclusive or just too expensive.

Speaking about channels such as CNN trying to charge for their news, he said: "Everyone is too greedy. News is too freely available for people to think they can charge €5 per month [for it]."

He added ringtones and games shouldn't be priced above €0.99 and MMS photo messages not more than twice that of SMS.

"People don't understand the price elasticity," he said. "We're pretty unsophisticated. Pricing seems to be set by accounts people, not those in sales or marketing."