Sprint Disses Palm By Selling New BlackBerry

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Research In Motion (RIMM) will let Sprint (S) start selling its impressive new BlackBerry Tour around the same time Verizon Wireless starts selling it later this summer.

That’s a big coup for Sprint: RIM often gives its best CDMA phones exclusively to Verizon, for a while, at least. So being on an equal level as Verizon (VZ) is good news for Sprint. But it’s hard not to see this as an insult to Palm, which just started selling its new ‘Hail Mary’ Pre smartphone at Sprint earlier this month.

While the Pre is a formidable iPhone rival, it’s also a strong BlackBerry competitor: Because it has a physical keyboard, people who are used to RIM’s QWERTY devices may be especially interested in buying the Pre. (Sprint even held an event in New York this month positioning the Pre as a business phone.) But it will be significantly harder to sell the Pre with the BlackBerry Tour in the same store.

The Tour doesn’t have a touchscreen, certainly doesn’t have iPhone-like multi-touch, which the Pre does, and probably doesn’t have as attractive or speedy software as Palm has crafted. Yes, some people will buy the Pre over the Tour because of its hardware and user interface superiority. But BlackBerry is a tried-and-true platform that millions of people are loyal to, and RIM has a more extensive app platform than Palm has so far.

Intentional snub? Probably not. But selling a powerful Pre rival next to the Pre is not going to win friends at Palm.

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