Sprint Nextel and Palm have made it official: The Pre is landing June 6.
The highly anticipated phone will be available in Sprint Stores, Best Buy, Radio Shack and a few Wal-Marts for $199.99 with a two year contract. That price includes a $100 rebate, according to a Sprint statement and Palm blog post.
In a research note, JP Morgan analyst Paul Coster said that Palm had to go with the $199 price for the Pre. He also expects a Pre launch that slowly builds because Palm's balance sheet doesn't support an aggressive launch. Coster wrote:
The $199 price point was absolutely necessary, in our view, to go head to head with RIM and Apple. We believe PALM will execute a "soft launch," meaning that it will ramp slowly. The balance sheet does not support a very aggressive ramp. We believe less than 500K units will ship in the first month, and there could be reports of stock outs (adding to the buzz).
Simply put, if you want the Pre you'll need to get one early.
To say there is a lot riding on the Pre launch would be an understatement. For Palm, the Pre represents the future of the company. Palm has been burning cash as it waits for the Pre to launch. Meanwhile, the Pre represents the platform for Palm's future. Pre's Web OS is software future Palm devices will be built on.
For Sprint, the carrier is hoping the Pre is its equivalent of the iPhone, an exclusive device that breeds loyal customers that stay with the carrier. Sprint has the second highest churn rate among major carriers, just behind T-Mobile.
For those who juggle life circa 2009 – bouncing from conference call to car pool schedule, from doctors’ numbers to doctoral thesis data, from social calendars to social networking – Pre marks a new wireless crossover standard.
The well-known Pre features being touted include:
Palm's activity cards approach to organizing tasks;
The ability to organize data and conversations;
And universal search.
It remains to be seen if Pre's crossover messaging proves to be a selling point in the future.