According to multiple sources, the Palm Pre is set to launch on June 6th, which happens to be the 65th anniversary of D-Day invasion. I guess we can call this the Pre-Day invasion. Instead of storming the beaches of Normandy to take on Nazi Germany, Palm will be taking on the mighty, mighty Apple Corp., and its Juggernaut iPhone. At $200 (after $100 rebate with two year agreement), it has a similar price tag to the current 8GB iPhone. But can it really take on the iPhone or even compete with the BlackBerry, which itself has been giving Apple a run for its money?
Is The Cell Phone Market Changing?
Every few months a new phone comes along and we are left wondering if it will be "The One" to take on the iPhone. Interestingly enough, earlier this month, new sales figures from the NPD Group indicated that the BlackBerry Curve outsold the iPhone in the US for the first quarter this year. BlackBerry has long been a business favorite and brought out several new phones recently include the Curve and the Storm.
In fact, BlackBerry occupied three of the top four spots for sales in the list. But the BlackBerry had several things in its favor including being business friendly along with a loyal and large installed base. But Palm can at least take heart that it's possible to get people interested in a phone besides the iPhone.
Can Palm Make a Dent?
At $200, the Pre is priced just about where you would expect a smart phone with these specs to be priced. It has the advantage at least out of the gate of being something new and the cell phone market always likes a new toy. While I don't understand why cell phone manufacturers give any carrier exclusive rights, Palm chose Sprint to be its dance partner in the US and it remains to be seen whether this will affect them positively or negatively.
Whither iPhone 3.0?
Palm of course shouldn't care when Apple plans to release its next generation iPhone, but there are persistent rumors of announcements at the WWDC in June with a summer release expected. It's unknown whether Apple will break its exclusivity agreement with AT&T and take on other vendors (as I think it should), but a new iPhone means more hype and the longer the gap between Palm's release and Apple's, the better off Palm will be.
It's hard to say how this plays out because most people are locked into their providers. Will the Pre (as the iPhone has done for AT&T) encourage defections to Sprint? Will it meet high expectations (I think so)? Even if Pre takes the market by storm it's hard to say it will be enough, but the cell phone market is certainly heating up and it could be an interesting summer.