Why Sprint Needn't Worry About Revised EVO Sales Numbers

Sprint’s sales of the HTC EVO 4 smartphone have been good, but not as good as the carrier first said they were. On June 7, Sprint issued a release stating that sales of the EVO in its first three days of availability were greater than the Palm Pre and Samsung Instinct combined. Sprint is now backtracking on the three-day comparison, but still says the EVO 4G is the new first-day top seller.

From the newly updated release on sales figures, Sprint clarifies: “June 4, 2010 sales of HTC EVO 4G marked the largest quantity of a single phone sold in one day ever for Sprint – the record was previously held by both Samsung Instinct and Palm Pre. Launch day sales of HTC EVO 4G were six times greater than launch day sales of Samsung Instinct and nearly twice the launch day sales for Palm Pre. We continue to see sales of EVO 4G outpace sales of Samsung Instinct and Palm Pre.”

So does that mean the EVO isn’t as hot of a handset for the carrier as originally thought?

No, the likely reason that EVO sales figures aren’t higher is lack of supply — you can’t sell something you don’t have in the first place. BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk called more than 20 Sprint stores and verified reports that stock of EVO units is in short supply, and I’ve read various tweets confirming the same supply issue over the past several days. I imagine that Sprint is selling EVO handsets as fast as HTC can build them.

From the demand side, Sprint’s EVO offers several advantages over Sprint’s prior top-sellers. Indeed, James over at jkOnTheRun gave the EVO a glowingly positive review, even after learning the details of Apple’s upcoming iPhone 4, announced earlier this week. With the EVO, customers in a 4G coverage area immediately gain up to three times the data speeds of 3G phones and can also use data and voice calls at the same time.

Palm’s Pre offers a stellar user experience with webOS, but the EVO’s Android 2.1 UI is skinned with the pretty HTC Sense UI — a feature so good that I’ve hacked it onto my Nexus One. Samsung’s Instinct also offers a nice interface, but uses a proprietary platform and can’t take advantage of the more than 50,000 software applications available in the Google Android market.

With great hardware married to the Android platform and Sprint’s 4G network, the EVO is likely to be the carrier’s top-selling phone this year. I still wonder to what degree the EVO will help stem the loss of Sprint subscribers, however. My tweeting and other informal social research indicates that most EVO customers are current Sprint subscribers, not new to the network — and if that trend is true, it’s a far bigger concern for Sprint than backtracking on first-weekend EVO sales.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Marketing Handsets in the Superphone Era

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