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.