John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Palm’s Worst Nightmare: New iPhones on AT&T and Verizon

The debut of a fourth-generation iPhone this summer and, later, a second version of the device designed for use on CDMA networks like those operated by Verizon, will be great news for Apple, AT&T and, potentially, Verizon. But it doesn’t bode well at all for Palm, which has already seen strong competition from the iPhone and new Android devices like the Droid undermine sales of its Pixi, Pre and their “Plus” successors.

Going head-to-head with the iPhone 3GS on AT&T will be difficult enough for Palm (PALM). Competing with the smartphone’s souped-up successor on AT&T (T) and perhaps Verizon (VZ) could be disastrous.

The Apple (AAPL) iPhone has been AT&T’s hero device since launch, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Said a company spokesman: “The iPhone will be an important device for us for quite sometime.”

The Pre Plus and Pixi Plus less so, I imagine. It’s a safe bet that the same will be true of Verizon if the carrier adds the iPhone to its lineup. Analysts mulling the consequences of such a deal say that pent-up demand for the iPhone on Verizon’s network could result in a massive burst of iPhone subscribers for the company.

One scenario put forth by Bernstein Research this morning suggests Verizon could stand to gain 6.4 million new iPhone subscribers in 2010 alone, many of them existing Verizon subscribers upgrading to the iPhone. Which would obviously leave fewer subscribers to upgrade to Palm’s devices.

That leaves Palm in a position that’s arguably worse than the one it found itself in when its devices debuted on Verizon, a position it blamed for its lousy third quarter. “If we could have launched at Verizon prior to the Droid, I think we would have gotten the attention the Droid got,” Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein said at the time.

But as I noted last week, Palm did not launch prior to the Droid. And now the company is launching on AT&T just as the carrier presumably prepares to introduce a new Apple iPhone (iPhone HD?).

Now it’s looking like all the hard work Palm did to evangelize its webOS phones at Verizon could be overwhelmed by the deluge of interest almost certain to accompany a Verizon iPhone.

Which leaves Palm in a vulnerable position, indeed. CEO Rubinstein claims Palm should have gotten the attention garnered by Droid. Will he make similar claims if Palm suffers further woes from a next-generation iPhone on AT&T–or a brand new one on Verizon?

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus