Sprint CEO to Pre Buyers: Get Your Sleeping Bags Ready
One of the simplest ways to create a shortage, and the buying frenzy that typically accompanies it, is to announce that there will be one. And this is precisely what Sprint CEO Dan Hesse did for the Palm Pre Tuesday. Speaking at J.P. Morgan’s Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference shortly after Sprint announced the handset’s street date, Hesse said he anticipates that supplies will be limited, at least initially. “We don’t intend to advertise it heavily early on because we think we are going to have shortages for a while,” Hesse said. “We won’t be able to keep up with demand for the device in the early period of time.”
Interesting thing to say in advance of a product launch on which so much is riding, don’t you think? Unless you’re already trying to foster the perception of excess demand. As Gartner analyst Hugues De La Vergne noted last month, “It’s important to have a success like selling out. The Pre has to live up to the hype or else they’ll lose their momentum to rival products coming out soon after.” And clearly, that’s a very real danger here. Though, to be fair, there are other possible explanations. It could simply be responsible production scheduling. It might also be that Palm’s financial situation has forced the company to temper its launch run-rate in order to retain adequate capital for marketing and customer service. Or it could be that Pre really is the blockbuster device Palm (PALM) and Sprint (S) believe it to be and no amount of supply will be enough to meet the initial and overwhelming demand for it. It could be that the Pre is the next Apple (AAPL) iPhone.
“What the iPhone has shown is that if you really do have a compelling device that is revolutionary then customers will switch to your service,” said Hesse. “We think the Palm Pre stacks up very well against the iPhone.”
We’ll find out come June 6.