Palm Pre: $199 After a $100 Rebate We Hope You Lose
“[The Pre is ] extremely competitively priced.”
The great truism about rebates is that anything less than 100 percent redemption is free money for the companies offering them. That’s something Palm and Sprint are clearly counting on as they bring Palm’s new Pre handset to market with a $100 rebate.
The companies tout the Pre’s selling price as $199, but really that’s a bit disingenuous. If you intend to buy one, you still have to walk into the store with $299. Sure, you’ll be given that rebate, but Palm (PALM) and Sprint (S) are both hoping you won’t use it. And statistically speaking, you may not. Sahir Anand, Research Director at Aberdeen Group, says rebate redemption rates among the 175 organizations he recently surveyed were just 58 percent. Customers who failed to submit their rebates either found them too cumbersome or simply forgot about them. And that can end up being quite profitable for the companies that issue them. Consider this: In 2004, TiVo (TIVO) promised customers a $100 mail-in rebate within six to eight weeks of the purchase of a new DVR. About 50,000 of the 104,000 eligible for that offer failed to take advantage of it. That saved TiVo about $5 million.
How much might Palm and Sprint save on the Pre rebate program? It’s impossible to say with any degree of specificity, but certainly enough to raise the average selling price of the device above $199. Perhaps even well above it, if Aberdeen’s metrics are borne out.