Sprint today said it plans to begin selling its much-hyped Palm Pre on June 6. Could the timing be risky?
That’s the theory of some industry analysts, who note that Apple may well announce its own new iPhone two days later — on June 8 — at its Worldwide Developer’s Conference. The near overlap in timing could take some of the momentum out of the Pre hype machine and get the blogosphere and the early adopters buzzing about Apple, not Palm.
If Apple does announce a new phone on June 8 (a matter of widespread speculation) then “Sprint at least will have center stage for a few days before they’re swamped,” said Charles Wolf, a telecommunications industry analyst with Needham & Company, referring to the attention Apple might receive.
To Mr. Wolf, the potential juxtaposition of the two phones symbolizes the great excitement the industry has generated this summer, though he does think it could come at the expense of Palm. On the other hand, he says that Sprint and Palm have little choice but to move quickly to introduce their phone given that both companies have struggled versus the competition (Sprint versus other carriers and Palm versus the iPhone and the BlackBerry from Research in Motion).
Kevin Packingham, senior vice president for product and technology development at Sprint, said that he expected whatever Apple does to be formidable but that Sprint can’t afford to predicate its decision on Apple’s timing — whatever it might be.
“In this industry, things are moving so quickly you have to march ahead as fast as we can,” Mr. Packingham said.
Sprint said the Pre will cost $199, including a $100 rebate and a two-year service contract.
“We wouldn’t underestimate their capabilities but we’re extremely confident in the Palm Pre,” he said. “We think it’s a device that will compete with anything.”