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6/8/2009
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Palm Sold About 50,000 Pre Smartphones

An RBC analyst estimates the Palm touch-screen device sold far fewer units than Apple's iPhone sold during its opening weekend.

Palm 'Pre' Smartphone
(click image for larger view)
Palm 'Pre' Smartphone

Palm's long-awaited Pre smartphone launched over the weekend, and Sprint and Palm sold about 50,000 units according to estimates from RBC analyst Mike Abramsky.

Palm and Sprint didn't release sales figures, but Abramsky derived his numbers from "channel checks" and said Palm sold between 45,000 and 55,000 over launch weekend with another 10,000 to 15,000 customers on waiting lists. By comparison, Apple sold about 270,000 iPhones during its first two days of sale, and the iPhone 3G sold 1 million units over its launch weekend.

The touch-screen Pre has been steadily generating buzz since it was first introduced at January's Consumer Electronics Show. The smartphone has an attractive design and user interface, and it packs all the features one expects from a high-end smartphone, including Wi-Fi, GPS, 3G, Bluetooth, and multimedia functions. One of the most appealing features is the WebOS operating system, which lets the user multitask easily and aggregates a user's contacts across various Web services.

Abramsky estimated that nearly 90% of Pre buyers were existing Sprint customers who were upgrading their devices, and nearly 60% previously had owned a Palm device. Sprint is making the Pre its flagship handset, and it's expected to go toe-to-toe with AT&T's iPhone, Verizon Wireless' BlackBerry Storm, and T-Mobile's G1. It's unclear how successful the Pre will be at poaching customers away from Sprint's rivals, particularly because Verizon has already said the Pre will be on its network in six months or so.

Even though the handset didn't have a launch weekend like the iPhone 3G, the Pre's debut can be considered a success for Palm. The handset has received generally positive reviews, with only a few complaints about battery life and lack of third-party applications. Additionally, Palm has said it doesn't need to be at the top of the market to be successful, as it's aiming for the "fat middle" of the smartphone segment, between the business-centric BlackBerry and the media-centric iPhone.


Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).

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