This week, The Street published a rumor that Verizon Wireless was snubbing the Palm Pre smartphone because of the device's lackluster sales on Sprint.
With the cat out of the bag (and Palm's stock falling), analysts are now debating the validity of the claim.
Deutsche Bank's Jonathan Goldberg sorts it out:
"We believe the press reports late Thursday afternoon that Verizon would not launch the Palm Pre are incorrect," Goldberg wrote. "Our checks continue to point to healthy carrier demand for the Pre early in calendar 2010. We believe Palm has placed orders with the supply chain for another version of the Pre with features highly consistent with a Verizon launch."
Morgan Keegan & Co's Tavis McCourt agrees:
"Palm reiterated its FY2010 guidance, which we believe REQUIRES a launch at Verizon (you just can’t get there with just Sprint and AT&T)," he wrote. "Verizon has carried just about every Palm product in its history, and the Pre is clearly the best. We do not have insight as to the marketing support Palm will get from Verizon, but we see little risk in not getting a placement at this carrier. The timing of the rumor post-deal makes it equally as dubious as the timing of the 'Nokia will buy Palm' rumor during the roadshow."
And Palm itself has made clear that it will be working with other carriers in 2010.
So when's the Pre due on Verizon? Sometime around February 2010, McCourt estimates.
Which leaves just a few questions:
- Are there any Pre wannabe-adopters left who haven't already jumped at the chance?
- Just how many folks on Verizon will switch from RIM BlackBerry devices to the Pre?
- Does Verizon's base, three times as large as Sprint's, make up for sloppy seconds?