Area Best Buy Reports Overwhelming Demand for 4 Palm Pres
The Pre, Palm’s (PALM) new bet-the-company handset, had a successful debut this past weekend. It sold out in hours at most locations on strong early demand, though limited supplies virtually ensured that would be the case. Sprint’s (S) flagship Manhattan store had 200 units at launch. Its store in Boston’s Back Bay area had only 55. Another in San Francisco’s Mission district had 60. And some Best Buy locations reported having just 2 to 4 Pres on hand when their doors opened Saturday morning. So while there may have been “widespread stockouts on strong early demand,” they were relative to a very limited supply — severely limited, you might say. Which begs the question, are these shortages the result of capacity constraints in manufacturing or the limitations of Palm’s balance sheet? Or were they engineered to foster an image of overwhelming demand? Of course my local Best Buy sold out of the Pre in short order. It only had four phones. Easy to sell out in a few hours or moments when there are so few phones to be had.
So, are Palm and Sprint constraining supply here? “Absolutely not,” Palm spokesperson Lynn Fox told me, noting that supply is being spread out across a large base of 1,200 Sprint Stores and Best Buy and Radio Shack locations as well. “We’re actively producing product and getting it out there as fast as we can because demand is very, very high. Sprint tells us they have never seen higher demand for a smartphone.”
Palm shares are down more than 8 percent this morning at $11.93.