Updated from 9:04 a.m. EDTHow do you guarantee record-fast sellouts for your huge smartphone debut? Keep a short supply. Consumer demand for Sprint's ( S - Get Report) Palm ( PALM) Pre would seem insatiable given the number of would-be buyers who came away empty-handed this weekend. RBC analyst Mike Abramsky reports "widespread stockouts on strong early demand" in a research note Monday. Abramsky says the average number of Pre phones per store was about 35 and he estimates that about 50,000 were sold on the first weekend, with as many as 15,000 people signed on to waiting lists for the phone. If true, behind those quickly emptied shelves lie even more empty shelves. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse warned that there would be "shortages for awhile". And presumably leaked inventory reports showed Best Buy ( BBY) stores with supplies in the single digits going into the debut weekend. Was it a marketing ploy or a production glitch, one might wonder. Analysts have speculated that component supplies are running low. That would certainly stand to reason given that smartphone makers like Apple ( AAPL - Get Report), Research In Motion ( RIMM) and Nokia ( NOK - Get Report) have been ramping up production of new phones ahead of the holiday season. History has shown, that Sprint is somewhat prone to missteps. And with Verizon ( VZ - Get Report) ready to start selling the Palm Pre in six months, Sprint has limited time to cash in on its Palm Pre exclusive. Sprint says customers who come to the stores that have sold out of the Pre can get on a waiting list. "If you are on the list -- and you meet the credit requirements, etc. -- you'll get a phone when they are available," says a Sprint representative. But if the shortages continue or if Sprint botches its fulfillment promises, you can bet there will be another waiting list -- only this one will start forming at Verizon. Palm shares were recently down 6.6% to $12.14, and Sprint shares were down 3.5% to $4.93.
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