Walmart Rolls Pre Back To $80

Rollback that Palm Pre.In one of the quickest price reductions I’ve ever seen on a flagship device, the Palm pre has been cut once again to just $80. You can get that deal at Walmart, which beats the previous best from Amazon at $99.

I have to wonder just how low retailers can drive the price of a Pre to offer it for just $80 less than four months after launch. Sprint must be dying to sell these things if it’s willing to cut the price by so much. We went from $299 with a $100 rebate at launch to a flat $199 to a $150 deal in some places to the scattered $99 deals and now this. I’m going to guess there will be at least one thoroughly angry customer who purchased back in June and thinks a lawsuit is in order.

Palm Pre Is At The Front Of Our Minds

Palm Pre and the iPhone.A research firm called Interpret recently did a study concerning smartphone purchase habits among consumers and found that getting phones into people’s heads makes a big difference. It’s not easy, though. In fact, Palm’s Pre and the iPhone 3GS are the only smartphones to have struck the balance between smart features, the cool factor, and increased productivity in a way that got people talking. Blackberry just didn’t make the cut.

The study is a mildly interesting read. It’s no surprise that getting people thinking about a phone is key to sales, but it’s strange that so few phones get it right. I was also really surprised to see that the Pre had done so well. It’s second only to the iPhone in terms of mindshare, though we know the sales aren’t even close. Looks like Sprint really scares people off or the Pre is just an afterthought in iPhone googoo-gahgah-land.

Palm Isn’t Ready To Admit Pre Sales

Palm logo.Earlier this week Palm held its Q1 earnings conference call for the 2010 fiscal year. Most everyone in the industry was looking forward to the call because it meant we might get some hard numbers around the Palm Pre sales speculation. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and from the sound of things the Pre may not be doing the bang-up job some people thought.

You may recall this quote from Roger McNamee, one of Palm’s most prominent investors.

You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two- year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone. Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later.

Well, according to Palm, the company shipped 823,000 units this quarter, and its carrier partners “sold through” 810,000, of which the “vast majority” were the Palm Pre. Now vast could mean anything, but for argument’s sake let’s put Pre sales at 500,000. That’s really not bad, and better than some analysts expectations, but Palm and its investors obviously overstated the success of this phone from the beginning, and that can’t make the company happy.

Palm goes on to say that success isn’t tied to a single device and that the WebOS platform will be the golden boy of the smartphone industry. Blah blah blah. Unless Palm can woo some talented developers and stop squelching the ones it has, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the company change hands in the next few years (see, I’m getting good at this research thing).

Palm’s Pre Can’t Plug Sprint’s Leak

Sprint's having a rainy...year.Sprint’s just posted their second quarter numbers and it doesn’t look great. The company may be doing better than a year ago today, but they’re still losing customers at what plenty would could a steady flow. Some might venture to say heavy, but I’d spend so little time around that type of individual I’d hopefully miss it.

How bout some numbers then? Dan Heese and company lost $384 million along with 257,000 subscribers. Those are some big numbers to be throwing around, especially since next month won’t likely get much better. That’s when we’ll see the full impact of the Virgin Mobile acquisition and the loss of Pre exclusivity, which may well be the only thing presently keeping Sprint afloat.

If you’re one of those “half-full” types, you’ll no doubt remember that just six months ago, Sprint lost a cool $1 billion along with a million customers. I’d be interested to hear you have to say next month. “At least they’re not Vonage?”

Palm Hopes to Win Customers With More Apps

Palm Pre App Catalog.It’s no secret that much of the iPhone’s success comes from its development community. There are other great touchscreen smartphones out there, but none with application support behind the iPhone.

That’s no secret to Palm, either, and they’re hoping to offer similar support (albeit on a much smaller scale) to win some customers to the Pre. At launch the Pre sold some 50,000 phones and saw 150,000+ apps downloaded in that first weekend. That’s a solid start, but it won’t be long before Pre owners will want more.

Developers released some new Pre apps yesterday, in the midst of the Apple mayhem. The new titles included LikeMe, a restaurant/entertainment recommendation and rating service, and a sports news app for baseball fans. The Pre catalog is still smaller than tiny (like fewer than 50), but the catalog is still in beta, and only a few developers have the kit. As soon as it goes public, I’m sure you’ll see a more rapid influx of applications. Palm should make that happen soon – there’s sure to be a big rush of developers hoping to lure iPhone 3GS customers in the coming weeks.

It’s Palm Pre Launch Day!

Palm Pre Exploded.Happy Palm Pre launch day – no seriously, I know I’ve been a little bit harsh on the phone, and critical of Palm’s strategy going forward here, but everyone should be happy when they get a sweet new gadget. And early impressions do suggest the phone is sweet.

So for you early adopters, palm enthusiasts, technoporn addicts, what have you, Rapid Repair’s got the first look inside your new Pre. From the looks of things, taking apart the Pre is not for the faint of heart, so I hope you have steady hands. With a little persistence, though, you can get down to the pretty internals.

According to the guys at RR, the Pre’s components come in just over $170 – pretty shocking when you consider the out-of-contract prices we’ve seen. Could this mean early price cuts when Verizon and AT&T pick up the phone early next year? Component costs can only go down, right?

For now, a contracted $200 seems much more in line, since you are paying to be on the cutting edge, and those designers and former Apple engineers deserve a decent meal from time to time.

Sprint’s Too Good For Long Lines

Sprint Store.According to Mark Elliot, a spokesperson for Sprint, the company doesn’t want long lines come launch day for the Palm Pre this Saturday. “We’re actually trying to manage the exact opposite,” Mr. Elliott said.

It’s just like any company to spin the low hype generated by what must be terrible exclusivity negotiations into a boon for customer service. Part of Sprint’s new plan for the Pre rollout includes in-store tutorials for every Pre customer. “What we’re trying to do is not have people backed up waiting so customers feel rushed,” Mr. Elliott said. “We want each customer to get the experience.”

I don’t know about you, but I have plenty of fond memories of waiting in long lines to get the newest gadget, game, what have you. The air reeks with anticipation, everyone’s excited to be there knowing they’ll walk out with a new toy in hand. Well, early Pre adopters, you’ll get none of that.

Source: NY Times

The Pre is a Great Phone but the Wrong Phone

the wrong customersThe recently leaked Pre launch guide has set Palm fans atwitter, ready to get their paws on one the minute the phone launches. That is, if Sprint will let them.

In what I find to be the most interesting page (11 if you’re keeping track) of the launch missive, Sprint lays down a heavy warning: “We can’t afford to sell the Pre to the wrong customers.” My knee jerk reaction sounds a lot like “no shit,” especially considering the rumors of a tiny launch stock. But Palm means more than senior citizens and paraplegics. So who is the wrong customer, and why don’t they deserve a Pre?

According to Palm, the wrong customers are the IT business users. The folks who need to run applications. The people with strict mobile device security protocols. A lot of the same people who really want the device. But when those people set foot in a Sprint Store on June 6th, Sprint reps are advised to try to sell them the Treo Pro. This makes sense. Salespeople are there to identify your needs, and then sell you a product to meet or exceed those needs (preferably at atmospheric price points). So why sell you the Pre when it falls short? You should get the phone you need, right?

Right. The Pre isn’t the phone you need. It’s right there in company literature, just mangled and twisted to make it sound like the customer’s wrong, instead of the phone. Make no mistake, though, it’s the phone, and the Pre is going to miss the mark on launch day and probably fade out of existence before long. I’m not talking to you, the individual user who might love Palm’s new features and developer-friendly OS. I’m talking about market share, which is what Palm needs to stay solvent. The Pre was the device to release before Apple sold 20 million iPhones. Before the app store sold a billion apps. Then the Pre could have been Palm’s savior, instead its dying breath.

It’s not that the Pre isn’t a great device. From the hardware to the software, the smooth OS to an overall excellent user experience the Pre is a great device, it’s just the wrong device, and it could be Palm’s last. If the Pre fails to gain significant ground and fast, there’s little hope for a financially stable Palm in the near future.

Palm Pre Gets a Date!

The Palm Pre.Sprint and Palm have officially announced the release of the Palm Pre for June 6, starting at $200 after contract and the included $100 rebate. If you’re worried you won’t be able to get Palm’s new beauty in your area, fret no more. The phone is being sold nationwide starting on the 6th and will be sold in Sprint stores, Best Buy, Radio Shack, and even some Wal-Marts.

So what do you think of the date? It’s a Saturday for starters, which could mean both the manufacturer and the service provider are hoping for big weekend sales. It’s also two days before Apple’s Keynote Presentation at WWDC where it’s no secret people will be waiting for a very special iPhone announcement. I suppose if you have some sort of buying disorder you might not want to want two days.

To me it seems like Palm must be a little uneasy about the iPhone refresh. It would be so easy to wait a few days, or even a week, and then pitch the Pre against the iPhone’s shortcomings, like running background apps. They may be planning to do that anyway, but then why have an understated launch 2 days before a potential boon for Apple sales.

Truth is, I think we all know the iPhone isn’t going anywhere, and pitching the Pre as an “iPhone-killer” would likely turn Palm’s blade against themselves. I’d say the best they can hope for is a load of sales because their device is something different. If we’re lucky, the competition, meager as it may be, will push Apple to improve the product the world loves.