updated 10:00 am EST, Fri March 6, 2009
Pre May Lure iPhone Users
Palm's upcoming Pre is likely to poach customers away from the iPhone, Elevation Partners founder Roger McNamee said in an interview late yesterday. The investor in Palm told Bloomberg he's confident that those who bought the iPhone on its 2007 launch are likely to switch to the Pre as they're both attracted to whichever is the "coolest" device on the market and will no longer be tied to an AT&T contract. This would let them jump to Sprint for the Palm phone, which he predicted will happen en masse.
"You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two-year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone," McNamee noted. "Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later."
While his particular reasoning isn't made clear, the Pre is the first phone to use the multi-touch capable webOS and has a number of software features that aren't currently available on an iPhone, including true multitasking and a unique calendar and contact system that merges information from multiple sources, such Facebook and Exchange. It also adds a hardware QWERTY keyboard and a higher-resolution camera.
Regardless of its potential advantages, the Pre will need a significant launch to revitalize Palm. The Sunnyvale, California company has warned it's running low on funds and is seeing declining sales as customers avoid buying Centros or Treos while they wait for the Pre's launch in the first half of this year.
The competing smartphone should also face pressure from a future iPhone revision as well as loyalty to the iPhone created by software purchases on the App Store, neither of which was mentioned by McNamee.