Palm Pre plays hard to get

Fri, 06/05/2009 - 9:15am
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

As anticipation mounts over what will transpire at Apple’s development conference on Monday, it looks like it won’t be a blockbuster weekend for the Palm Pre – because not enough units are in stock.

Employees at Sprint stores in San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago and New York would not comment on their available inventory, but all confirmed that they expect long lines of customers when the Pre goes on sale tomorrow. 

Palm PreAs for recently leaked Best Buy screenshots of alleged inventory, it appears they were the genuine thing – but not necessarily accurate. Bloggers posted what appeared to be screenshots from Best Buy terminals showing that the retail electronics chain will have an extremely limited number of units available, ranging anywhere from two to 16 units on order at many stores in California.

Scott Anderson, director of personal communication experience for Best Buy corporate offices, said that while those leaked screenshots were indeed from Best Buy terminals, he would not vouch for the accuracy of those numbers.

“That definitely was a Best Buy terminal, but we change allocation all the time, and we go in and adjust those numbers daily. I would not give any validity to the quantities in there,” Anderson said. 

But while the screenshots may not be exactly accurate, they may not be that far off. When asked for comment, an employee at a Best Buy store in the San Francisco area confirmed that they will have only 13 units available on Saturday.

Anderson also said Best Buy does expect people to line up outside stores before opening on Saturday. “Like any iconic major new release like this, we expect lines at our stores.”

Demand will definitely exceed available supply, and procedures are in place to inform customers when they’ve sold out of the devices, he said.

Anderson said that he’s pretty sure the Palm Pre will be hard to come by for some time. “We plan on getting more in stock on a regular basis. However, I expect the shortage to last for a number of weeks,” he said. 

A Sprint spokesman declined to comment on initial shipment numbers.

According to five analysts polled by Reuters, 623,000 Pres are expected to move in Palm's fiscal first quarter, which ends in August. Those estimates ranged from 500,000 to 865,000 phones. As comparisons between the hype surrounding the iPhone and Pre are seemingly endless, it’s worth noting that Apple shipped 1.12 million iPhones in its first quarter on the market.

Meanwhile, expectations are high that a new iPhone will be introduced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week.

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•  CenturyTel wraps Embarq purchase
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•  Report: Broadband an improving value
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•  Palm Pre plays hard to get
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•  Broadband Briefs for 06/05/09



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