Can Palm Pre Answer the Company's Prayers?
Google put in a plug for the Pre, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse says he shouldn't say it, but Sprint's exclusivity with the Pre is longer than six months, and reviewers at the Times and the Journal both applauded Palm's efforts. There's lots of rooting for the Pre - but can it change the game for Palm?
In anticipation of the Pre's June 6 launch, Silicon Alley Insider
compiled a look at Palm's revenue from February 2004 through February
2009, and described the Pre as "Palm's Hail Mary" - its last chance to
win the game. Which at this point would amount to simply staying in it.
According to the chart, Palm's all-time high was in late 2005, when revenue reached approximately $440 million.
Shortly after that revenue began to decline a bit, and around June 2007, when the first iPhone launched, it had fallen to approximately $360 million. Revenue continued to drop, spiked briefly around the third quarter of 2008, with the launch of the Palm Treo 850, and then resumed its fall.
By February of this year, revenue dropped below $100 million.
Analyst Ezra Gottheil, with Technology Business Research, estimates Palm will need to sell about 3 million handsets a year to turn around its revenue slide.
"If they do that," Gottheil told eWEEK, "they'll attract more developers." Apple's original goal to sell 10 million iPhones its first year, he explains, was in part to attract developers.
Early reviews of the Palm Pre have been strong, and surely Palm executives are hoping this will bode well for sales.
Sprint has also been doing its part to help the Pre by boosting consumer confidence.
Addressing past criticisms of the network's poor quality and customer service, Reuters reports that Sprint CEO Dan Hesse told analysts, "We're a very different company than we were 12 months ago. The Pre is a coming out party for the new Sprint, to show off the new Sprint."
Should anyone consider holding off on a Pre purchase until it arrives on the Verizon or AT&T networks, Hesse additionally told CNET News that he can legally say that Sprint is now "the most dependable 3G network out there."
More coyly, Hesse added that Sprint's exclusivity contract with the Pre exceeds six months, so purchasers shouldn't expect to find it on the Verizon or AT&T networks by then.
The Google Mobile Blog also put in a plug for the Pre today, writing that "Palm Pre phone's webOS works great with Google Search, Google Maps and YouTube, which are built into the device. You can also easily sync your Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Contacts to Palm Pre."
Does Palm have a prayer's chance for a comeback with the Pre? The mobile world will have to wait and watch.