HTC Evo 4G LTE Smartphone Delayed in Customs, Sprint Apologizes

The ongoing legal wars between Apple and HTC has the phonemaker's new Evo 4G LTE smartphone, which was headed for Sprint, stuck in customs. Not great news for HTC or Sprint.

Neither HTC nor Sprint can afford to turn away paying customers, but that€™s just the boat each has found itself in. For the time being, HTC Evo 4G LTE handsets are bobbing somewhere offshore while U.S. customs officials await word that the HTC smartphones don€™t infringe on Apple patents and are free to ship inside the United States.

People who preordered the Evo 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) phone from Best Buy have received emails saying that the phones now won€™t ship on May 23, as Best Buy promised May 17, according to several reports.

On May 16, Sprint Tweeted: €œThe HTC Evo 4G LTE is delayed due to a U.S. customs review. We appreciate your patience as HTC resolves the issue.€

HTC said in an official statement, posted to a Sprint blog May 16:

"The U.S. availability of HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE has been delayed due to a standard U.S. Customs review of shipments that is required after an ITC exclusion order. We believe we are in compliance with the ruling and HTC is working closely with Customs to secure approval. HTC One X and HTC EVO 4G LTE have both received enthusiastic support, and we appreciate customers€™ patience as we work to get these products into their hands as soon as possible."

AT&T began selling the HTC One X May 6, but the carrier€™s Website now says it's €œtemporarily out of stock.€ No details are offered about when it will be back€”though it is a good guess that it will reappear about the same time the Evo 4G LTE shows up.

€œHTC Evo 4G LTE is a great device worth waiting for, and we hope that our customers who preordered are able to be patient,€ a Sprint blogger, JGatSprint, posted May 16. €œWe understand, however, that some who preordered HTC Evo 4G LTE may wish to cancel their order due to availability delays.€

Those wishing to cancel, he added, can €œcall 866-789-8292, refuse delivery or request a return authorization kit once your device arrives. For a return kit, please call us at 866-789-8292.€

Since the success of its first Evo 4G smartphone, HTC€™s market share has shrunk as Samsung€™s has exploded. Gartner reported May 16 that Samsung is now not only the world€™s top vendor of mobile phones and also smartphones, but its market share had climbed to nearly 21 percent from 16 percent a year ago.

HTC made it onto the list in the No. 10 slot, shipping 7.7 million units for a 1.8 percent market share, down from last year€™s 9.3 million units and 2.2 percent share, ahead of Sony Mobile Communications, Huawei and Motorola.

While Android-running smartphones€”81.1 million units€”accounted for a 56.1 percent share of smartphone sales during the quarter, Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta wrote that phone makers, and particularly manufacturers of Android devices, are finding it a challenge to differentiate.

On the high end, applications coupled with hardware features are getting the job done, but in the mid- to low-end, €œprice is increasingly becoming the sole differentiator.€