Optimism over the Pre’s chances of lifting Palm (PALM) out of its downward spiral may be a bit… overly optimistic. In better times, the device might have proven to be just the curative the handset maker’s ailing business needs, but with the economy mired in the worst recession we’ve seen in decades, it may be more difficult than imagined for the Pre to restore Palm to its former glory.
What the company desperately needs is for the Pre to have an iPhone-like debut. But with consumer demand down and the Palm (PALM) brand lacking the cachet and draw of Apple (APPL), analysts say that will be difficult to achieve. Apple sold 6.1 million iPhones in the first full year after the device’s 2007 launch. Analyst’s put Palm’s shipment of Pres in the first year at 2.6 million. “What the BlackBerry and iPhone did was to be game changers,” Interbrand’s Andy Bateman told Bloomberg. “As a brand, Palm is a little dusty. Coming from behind, it’s going to have to do an awful lot to make up the difference.”
And in more than just brand perception. With its typically south-of-$5 shares trading north of $8 on the promise of the Pre, Palm needs to sell eight million units (total handsets, including the Treo, etc.) simply to justify its current stock price, according to Morgan Keegan analyst Tavis McCourt. And that, says McCourt, will require “success beyond Sprint” (S). Yet, we’ve not heard about any further carrier deals. For Palm’s sake, lets hope we do soon. With the company’s sales down by about 70 percent in the last quarter, Apple ramping up to release iPhone OS 3.0 and consumers beaten into submission by the recession, this summer is not the best time to be debuting a device meant to take on the iPhone.
Palm, incidentally, is expected to make some sort of official announcement about something or other later today.