CTIA: Palm Pre Anticipation, Frustration Grow

Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on April 2, 2009

Not since the gap between the announcement of the original Apple iPhone and its release has the waiting been as hard as for the Palm Pre. At the CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas this week, Palm let launch partner Sprint demo the phone to media and analysts, but it was strictly look-but-don’t touch.

The Pre looks extremely promising, and if it is as good as it looks, it could be the first product to challenge the iPhone on its own ground. But those of us who have been around the business for a while have developed a deep distrust of demos, where it’s easy to make the best features look good while glossing over those that are half-baked. So no matter how good it looks, I’m reserving judgment until I can get my hands on one for a test of reasonable length.

Meanwhile, however, Palm is making the right moves. The company announced that a software emulator would be available to run the thousands of applications written for the original Palm operating system. As analyst Michael Gartenberg points out, this move is of mostly symbolic importance. How many people really want to run clunky apps written for a 160x160 display on a shiny new Pre? But the plan keeps the faith with the legions of Palm fans and establishes continuity between the old Palm and the new. Since there's really no downside to it, it's a good move all around.

But on the disappointing side, Palm shed no new light on the availability or pricing of the Pre. I'm betting on a ship date in June and a price, with two-year Sprint contract, competitive with the iPhone.

Reader Comments

charles

April 2, 2009 10:46 AM

I completely agree on that, but despite all the great features that the Palm pre has, the price can not exceed what the 8gb. iphone cost. In my opinion, if the Palm pre is sold for more than the 8gb. iphone cost, their chances of making a killing on the palm pre is very low.

palm fan

April 2, 2009 11:05 AM

160x160?? Clunky apps?

Get a clue. Palm apps are 320x320. Ever had a centro? Far from clunky.

Michael S.

April 2, 2009 11:51 AM

Isn't Verizon the largest wireless carrier? I wonder why they chose Sprint as their launch partner?

Marvelouss

April 2, 2009 12:47 PM

Michael S. Largest carrier (Verizon) does not make it the best. Plus, Sprint gave Palm the platform to sell it's Treo line. That is why Sprint gets the early limited exclusive.

Starling S

April 2, 2009 12:50 PM

B/c Sprint doesnt have the iPhone and Verizon does. You don't want a partner who is going to only convert business. You need to grow it. Sprint Customers are hungry for a sexier phone.

Eric

April 2, 2009 2:26 PM

@Starling....AT&T has the iPhone, not Verizon. Verizon has the Blackberry Storm, which I don't think is doing too well. Verizon also has a great marketing team that has built an impression of having the best network in the US.

Steve Wildstrom

April 2, 2009 2:36 PM

@Palm Fan--The last couple of generations of Palm OS phones were 320x320 but in the heyday of Palm apps, the displays were 160x160.

Steve Wildstrom

April 2, 2009 2:39 PM

Why Sprint? One of the few things left from the old Palm is a long and deep relationship with Sprint. Palm needs a strongly committed partner. Sprint needs a cool phone.

haXor

April 2, 2009 3:30 PM

@Starling S.

Before you state your lame facts, get yours straight.

There is NO CDMA version of the iPhone and Verizon doesn't carry it. Only AT&T in the USA and they are a GSM carrier.

http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/store/controller?item=phoneFirst&action=viewPhoneOverviewByDevice&deviceType=Phones&sortOption=priceSort

DigDug

April 2, 2009 3:36 PM

What Palm/Sprint *should* do is offer Pre at the $200 price point with an additional $50 off if you port over from a BB or iPhone plan of VZW, TMO, or ATT.

Scott

April 2, 2009 3:52 PM

I am looking forward to getting the pre someday on ATT. Until then, I'll stick with my Centro, which I love.

John

April 2, 2009 10:14 PM

Anyone hear rumors that Palm take be a takeover target???

Someone mentioned it on Fast money, and I heard someone else as well.

Usually when there's smoke there's just smoke.
Any ideas on who might be on the shopping list???

Craig

April 3, 2009 2:40 AM

Steve,
There are LOADS of Palm OS apps that actually run natively at 320x480, since that is the res on the Palm T|X, the Tapwave Zodiac, and some other devices. And many of them still work great. Do we all hope that developers will flock to webOS and give us good replacements for these legacy apps? Sure we do. But until then, we now have the satisfaction of knowing that our existing way of getting things done doesn't have to disappear the minute we switch to a Pre.

Bobby

April 3, 2009 7:34 AM

@ DigDug -- Palm/Sprint should not offer an additional rebate for people with other carriers to switch over. No one forced you with another carrier. If you paid $200 for an Iphone or a BB then you can pay $200 for a Pre. However they should provide LOYAL current customers with an additional discount to upgrade.

Quinn

April 3, 2009 11:50 AM

@Bobby- I agree with you 100% about a discount for loyal Sprint customers. My contract ran out with them in February and I'm still with them waiting on the Pre. Palm needs to ride the buzz and get the Pre out soon before we, the consumers, get tired of waiting.

@Steve- Please make sure to get your carriers in order before you post your comments. It just makes you sound silly.

Michael S

April 3, 2009 1:27 PM

When is this F-ing thing coming out. I have been waiting for months. I am using this POS phone I have now because I have been awaiting the arrival of the Pre. First they say February then March now I hear June. I am about ready to go buy an Iphone to just get this over with. QUIT HYPING THE RELEASE DATE!!

GG

April 3, 2009 2:59 PM

If they adhere to their own timetable Palm will taken a half a year from product announcement to actual product for sale. If you can't run with the big dogs stay on the porch. Apparently that is exactlt what Palm is doing. Sign me up AT&T for an IPhone

Toby

April 3, 2009 3:26 PM

@Michael S -- Ummm... who is "HYPING THE RELEASE DATE?" You're paying waaaay too much attention to the rumor mill. Palm has said from the very beginning (CES) that the Pre would be out during the first half of the year. This is industry standard jargon for a June release - although I think Palm would like to have it out ASAP so it COULD hit the streets as early as May.

So, to answer your question: the F-ing thing will be out within the next 88 days. Can you wait that long? I'm a very patient person so I have no problem waiting. In fact, I've been waiting for this device since it SHOULD have been announced - May 30th 2007.

Instead we got the Foleo. :|

Patrick

April 3, 2009 3:56 PM

Nobody every said the Pre was coming out in February or March.
Don't know who has been hyping the release date but it certainly has not been Palm or Sprint.
Maybe some reading comprehension issues over the last couple of months?
Palm has never ever wavered from "first half of this year" mantra and to most intelligent people they know that means May or June.

GG: how long between the announcement of the iPhone and the first product shipment? How quickly you forget (or choose to ignore).

Michael S

April 3, 2009 4:33 PM

@Toby: Wow I can't believe somebody responded to my comments.. I am just saying I have read multiple articles about the Pre being released on such and such date and it has yet to happen. I don't know who wrote them but there are so many people out there these days with certain knowledge and insights that we might not have and thus the reason they predicted an earlier release date. I just get bothered when I hear they gave some Pre’s out for gifts at certain award shows and how a guest on the Jimmy Fallon show had one and was showing the phone off and how his was working just like any other phone. I want to know why do they have them and no one else? I can wait but not much longer. I am a very impatient person so that is why I am me and you are you.. So I hope they get their head out of their ass get this show in the road. That is industry jargon for hey get that phone out ASAP before you are no longer around.

gerrrg

April 3, 2009 5:03 PM

The Pre? Fail.

It'll be popular, but it'll fail Palm.

1. People aren't going to switch en masse to Sprint just to get this phone. Sprint has to be price-competitive with this phone and their data and phone plans in this current economic climate.
2. Technology moves faster than you can hear a pin drop. Competition is so fierce, by the time this phone actually comes out, both iPhone 3.0, Android Cupcake will be out, co-opting any perceived advantage the Pre may have had.
3. And then there's Windows Mobile 6.5.

If investors think that Pre will save Palm, I'm sure they're the same people who think that Volt will save GM.

CYRUS

April 4, 2009 11:57 AM

First, the Pre will stop the en masse churn from Sprint to ATT or VZ.
Second, with re to the "tech moves faster than you can hear a pin drop," true and the answer to that is the WebOS.
Third, anything with a Windows Mobile tagged to it will be a failure. I will never buy another Windows Mobile device. They are just inferior, regardless of how good the hardware may be. If I were MSFT, I would buy the WebOS from Palm and sell the Hardware to Dell or HWP. This would be the best move MSFT ever made in the mobile sector. It would cost MSFT peanuts relative to what's in their war chest.

Cyrus

April 4, 2009 12:07 PM

We all know that the Pre will be launched before the end of Q2 to have maximum effect on Palm and Sprint's Q3 results. I suspect they would have to launch the Pre at least two weeks ahead of the third quarter for this to manifest itself, however we all know plans don't always materialize as we hope, so to make sure the launch is smooth and without any flaws it would be wiser to introduce it a month before the Q3, this way they will guarantee themselves a phenomenal Q3 earnings. Owing to this I suspect a launch around April 30th, which is within the next month. This also fits in very well with the chatter emanating from the bigwigs at Sprint. If I was to make a wager I would bet a launch very close to April 30th, 2009.

Cyrus

April 4, 2009 12:10 PM

Correction! I meant May 30 in lieu of April 30th. This also gives Dan Hesse some latitude in his Q2 earnings release.

Sprint Employee

April 5, 2009 9:26 PM

I work for Sprint, and I can positively tell you that the Palm Pre WILL NOT be out by April 30th, and May 30th is a stretch. I can tell you this based on Sprint's device release process. When a new phone is released that is of great interest, a representative in each retail store location is chosen as an "Advocate" for the phone. This Advocate is responsbile to complete multiple trainings and receives a device about a month or so less before the actual launch. This program allows the representative to learn and use the phone in real time in order to provide training to all retail employees and be each locations "Device Expert". I have personally been chosen to be one of the first Sprint employees to receive this phone. Each retail manager had to chose their stores advocate by April 3rd. So... no trainings have even been introduced as of yet. The training process takes a few weeks to a month... THEN the Advocate receives the phone. After a few weeks to a month of "Playing" with the phone, the Advocate gets to keep the phone for themselves, and then, the device is usually lanched at about that same time. So, with this said, May 30th is a stretch... So I recommend that you plan on a June release and you won't be disappointed.

Big Dog

April 6, 2009 9:47 AM

@gerrrg. Sprint is very competitive in price. I have the BB and the "Everything, Unlimited" for $99 per mo. The wife has the IPhone and the same plan cost $160. If the Pre is anything close to the IPhone, I will have the Pre.

AJ

April 7, 2009 12:46 AM

I don't think IPhone 3.0 is going to be a threat to Pre in any way. The way the consumer works, they like 'new'. The Iphone came out 2 years ago, and 3.0 is going to look and feel the same. There is no major revisions with 3.0.

Pre is slick, its new, its loaded with features. Its going to be the new 'got to have it' smartphone.

PALM is run by ex-apple execs. They know how to get people excited about a new product.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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