Although the Sprint Samsung ATIV S Neo went officially on sale today, you won’t be able to run to your local store to pick one up. At least that’s what we’re hearing from colleagues and fellow readers like yourselves.

Evidently, customers who wander in to a Sprint store to pick up the latest and greatest Windows Phone 8 device will be told that it is “direct ship only” meaning no in store availability. This news was reportedly reiterated in the Sprint weekly newsletter sent out to customers today. In addition, Best Buy is now listing the phone for a $149 price tag too but it’s not available online (or in brick and mortar). We haven’t checked Microsoft Stores but so far, they only have the 8XT listed.

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That’s all bad news if people were expecting to grab the phone for the weekend as it means you’ll have to get it shipped and wait. We've also confirmed that at least two stores do not even have dummy units in place, which makes sense since in-store point-of-sales cannot occur.

Listed at Best Buy, but you can't have it yet

So why the limited availability? We can think of two scenarios:

  1. Sprint has ordered only a limited amount; has little faith in the device selling
  2. Samsung is having trouble getting early shipments to stores; larger rollout coming later

It’s too early to say which of those would be the correct theory, though we have heard in the past that Sprint would only put new Windows Phones on the shelves, but they won’t promote them (or give them a priority placement). In this case, even putting them on the shelves may be too much to ask. In addition, we haven’t seen any commercials or promotions for the 8XT (review) or the ATIV S Neo--granted, the latter phone just launched today so it is still very early in its release cycle.

On the other hand, Samsung has been known to be slow in the past with getting phones out the door. Case in point was the original ATIV S, which was announced last August but didn’t reach customers hands until mid-December. Both companies could be taking a "wait and see" approach.

We don’t want to rush to judgment too early, but so far the Sprint re-launch of Windows Phone has been less fanfare than hoped. Let’s see how things pan out in the coming weeks.

Anyone else want to share their experience in trying to pick up the ATIV S Neo? Sound off in comments. Thanks, Jacob F. and others, for the tips

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