If Palm ever planned to sell millions of its Pre smartphones with Verizon Wireless, the no. 1 U.S. carrier, those hopes could be fading.
TheStreet.com’s Scott Moritz reports that Verizon has decided not to “support” the Pre, which could mean Verizon won’t stock the phone at all, or order “just a small amount of Pre phones with no intention of lending much marketing support,” he says.
Why? Moritz posits: Perhaps because its initial Palm Pre sales at Sprint are not particularly impressive; perhaps because Verizon is — foolishly, we’d add — trying to run only its own App Stores, and doesn’t want to support Palm’s; or perhaps because Verizon has enough on its plate with BlackBerry and a Google Android phone from Motorola.
If any or all of these are true, it could be bad news for Palm, which could use as many distribution partners it can get, as it goes up against phones from Apple, RIM, Google, etc.
A Palm rep declined to comment on the “rumour.” But the company pointed us to a press release from this afternoon, related to its recent stock offering, in which it “reaffirmed its fiscal year 2010 outlook and its planned product and carrier launches in the second half of Palm’s fiscal year ending in May 2010.”
What does this mean? All it means is that Palm doesn’t expect anything material to change from what it expected before. But because we don’t know what Palm was expecting from Verizon before, it doesn’t offer much clarity.
If Palm always thought Verizon would be a peripheral partner, and not a very supportive one, it seems the second possibility mentioned in TheStreet.com’s report — that Verizon would only order a few phones, and not aggressively market them — is likely accurate. The more we think about it, the more this makes sense, as the Pre will already be an old phone by then — not likely something Verizon would promote heavily anyway.
On the other hand, if Palm expected Verizon to be a lead seller, and now Verizon is backing out, that’s an entirely different story. Likewise, if Palm never considered Verizon a partner, and instead plans to launch with AT&T, that’s a different story. Palm, of course, declined to elaborate.
Here’s a few more ideas we had earlier, before Palm reached us:
- Perhaps Palm has instead signed a deal with AT&T to sell a 3G/GSM version of the Pre there first, and Verizon didn’t want to have sloppy thirds.
- Perhaps Apple signed a deal to sell the iPhone at Verizon next year, which includes a “no Palm” provision.
- Perhaps Palm will be selling several devices at Verizon Wireless, such as the newer Pixi, or a third, different device. (Given how old the Pre will be at this point, this makes sense.)
Either way, this sounds like a departure from earlier this year, when Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam gleefully announced that Verizon would be shipping the Pre “the next six months or so.”
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