Palm Investor Says Pre Versus Apple iPhone Is No Contest

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2009-03-06 Print this article Print

As the Palm Pre smartphone nears its much anticipated release date, major Palm investor Roger McNamee said in an interview with Bloomberg that, come June, Apple iPhone users will be switching to what he called the new "coolest product on the market." This bold statement comes as Palm looks to gain back much needed momentum from the RIM BlackBerry and the iPhone.

When the Apple iPhone hits its two-year anniversary in June, Palm plans to release its highly anticipated Pre smartphone, which a major Palm investor is insisting will turn the tide in the competitive handset market.

In a March 6 interview with Bloomberg, Palm investor Roger McNamee boldly declared: "Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later."

They're big words, but ones McNamee seems to take delight in defending.

"If you bought the first iPhone, you bought it because you wanted the coolest product on the market," McNamee added during the Bloomberg interview. "Your two-year contract has just expired. Look around. Tell me what they're going to buy."

The Palm Pre features an iPhone-like touch-screen that slides up to reveal a QWERTY keyboard. Its designer, who came from Apple, suggested the dual touch-screen/keyboard at Apple, but the idea was rejected.

Palm is banking on the success of the Pre to pull it from six consecutive quarters of losses, totaling more than $650 million.

McNamee is a co-founder of Elevation Partners, which paid $100 million in December to lift its stake in Palm from 25 percent to 39 percent. He says he believes Palm's newer operating system will give it an edge, saying that the technology behind the Research In Motion BlackBerry is 13 years old, and 9 years old for the Apple iPhone.

The economic slowdown, McNamee told Bloomberg, "is an enormous risk for everybody in this marketplace-but I don't care."

Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

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