Retailers across the country report up to two months backorder on Palm units, due to a shortage in certain parts for the Palm.
Amazon.com, J&R MusicWorld and several regional retailers who did not wish to be named said Palms were "unobtanium" in the words of one buyer. Although Palm products are still advertised at some national chains, a survey of five Circuit City stores found that all were out of the Palm V and most stores only had one Palm IIIc and/or Palm VII in stock, if any.
A recent news report said the shortages were due to low supplies on flash memory and LCDs, which are also used in cellphones.
Retailers said the shortage of Palm handhelds is particularly troublesome, because Palm buyers are reluctant to switch to another handheld brand.
"I'm backordered by about 1,500 or 1,800 -- a couple of months' worth. You just can't get them. They are not available," said one regional buyer, explaining, "It's very difficult to switch a customer into the Handspring or something else when he's already comfortable with the Palm or his friends at the office have one and they want to exchange downloads. It doesn't matter if you're $100 less than the Palm."
The buyer added, "I was in Best Buy Sunday, they don't have them, Circuit doesn't have them, they are advertising them and then they say 'we'll take your name and number.' But the ads are six to eight weeks out."
Some retailers said they were beginning to get some quantities of the Palm IIIc (a color version of the device) but noted that the Palm V is the high-demand model.
R.C. Willey, which just picked up the Palm line again after backing out of the category last fall, said, "We are getting a small trickle of the IIIc and that's all we can get, part of it is its so new for us we're not back in the cue entirely. I have the 5x on order and haven't been able to get that," said computer buyer Tim Hess.
Palm said it did not wish to comment on the status of supplies.