The Palm Pre is shaping up to be a hot property when it’s released next month. The Pre features Palm's new webOS and will become only the second smart phone on the market to use multi-touch (the iPhone being the first). The phone hits the market on June 6.
Brick and mortar retailer Best Buy, eager to cash in on the demand for the phone, has announced that it will be selling it at its 1,067 Best Buy Mobile locations. The company is offering a unique promotion -- it will be selling the phone for $199.99 cash with a contract. Even Sprint itself can't exactly match this offer -- while it will also be offering it at a final price of $199.99, it's via a $100 mail in rebate.
Best Buy hopes the special offer will save customers the hassle of a rebate. It also is giving its employees special training so that they can properly demonstrate and describe the Pre's features.
Best Buy's Scott Anderson states, "We believe the ability to keep multiple applications open at the same time will be a very popular feature of the Palm Pre. It promises to be one of the best-selling smartphones of the year."
He continues, "(Best Buy employees have) extensive training on the Palm Pre. We offer a program called Walk Out Working -- free in-store smartphone setup by a Best Buy Mobile expert who will sync e-mail accounts, set up Bluetooth peripherals, transfer contacts, and activate other services to allow the customer to leave the store with a fully functional new smartphone."
This experience will likely be put to the test as the Pre's promising features are likely to make it a strong seller. Beside multi-touch, the Pre features a slide-out keyboard -- a long pleaded for feature by iPhone and Blackberry Storm users. It also features multiple simultaneous apps -- something Apple's iPhone can only halfway do.
The phone represents a do-or-die moment for Palm, which invested a great deal in its development. Palm owned 40 percent of the smart phone market in 2006, but has since sunk to 10 percent. States Nielsen analyst Roger Entner, "This is an opportunity for Palm to invigorate itself and become a serious contender, (otherwise it) could mean the end of the road for Palm."
Best Buy also carries the Pre's top competitor, the iPhone 3G.