For those who don't have a Sprint store nearby or are too busy cooking up your latest webOS app, your purchasing power has increased as of late. Previously only available in retail outlets, you can now recline with the speakerphone or make productive your mouse-clicking finger, as Palm's new smartphone is now available via Sprint TeleSales and online. An excerpt from an internal Sprint memo is below:
Summary: Big news! Sprint has decided to open up the selling of the exciting new Palm (NSDQ: PALM) Pre device to Telesales starting 07/20/09 and Sprint.com and Wireless Manager on 7/22/09. Specialists: All
Customers: All, except employee accounts (EWD and SWAC)
Effective Date: 7/20/09
You can also purchase it online at Sprint.com with free shipping and free activation, but note that you will still have to wait for a $100 MIR with either method. An upgrade option is also available for those already with Sprint. This is a good indication that supply shortages have finally eased up, and everyone can now get in on some webOS action. As for Palm's next proving ground, Bell Canada is expected to be the next carrier to get the device.
Mobile enthusiasts and webOS developers from Canada have something to look forward to in the near future, as recent rumors point to a Palm Pre launch in late July / early August on Bell Mobility. The rumors began with a leaked document that showed the Canadian CDMA provider starting employee training for the Pre and webOS via a 'What is Pre' course. Bell is ramping up the training in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, although exact locations are unknown.
Rumored dates for the launch have a narrow range, between July 29 and August 1. The previous date was rumored to be in early September, speculated from an upcoming contest where you can win a Pre on Bell. This will make Bell the first carrier to carry the Pre outside of the US. O2 in the UK will be following suit, and the second international carrier to get Palm's new handset.
Over the past week, numerous carriers worldwide have moved forward, or are rumored to be getting Palm's new webOS device. This is good news for international participants in PreDevCamp next month who have yet to get their hands on a device to work with. Below is a summary of the latest, from both domestic and abroad:
Verizon users can now get on the Palm Pre train, although in a pinch. An astute programmer on the Precentral forums going by Cleanser has hacked the device to get voice and texting working on the big V, although data is still not in the cards (no pun intended).
“Only problem is that I can’t get data to work. Apparently WebOS is checking to see if the device is provisioned or not before allowing a data session to take place. So my next step would be to somehow bypass this provisioning check.”
The tricky part is apparently getting Verizon to take the MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier), despite Verizon’s claim of being an Open Network. So if you're a Verizon user on a voice-only plan and are willing to find and root a Pre, this could be for you. Although if you're patient, Verizon and AT&T are expected to get the Pre after Sprint anyway.
Bell Canada was one of the first carriers after Sprint to confirm they will carry the Pre. A recent contest led to speculation as to when Bell will get the handset, as well as hinting at a MSRP of $650 CAD (~$580 USD). The drawing dates for the Pre phones are August 31 and Sept. 7th, so we could see the handset North of the Border by summer's end.
O2 and Movistar are confirmed to be getting the Pre exclusively in the UK, as well as Spain, Ireland, and Germany in time for Christmas. With any luck, this could also line up with a launch of the Palm Eos on AT&T in the US. Matthew Key, CEO of Telefonica Europe, states:
“With the addition of the hotly anticipated Palm Pre to our already extensive portfolio, our customers will be the first outside of North America to experience one of the most successful mobile devices of the year.”
Hi, a Dutch carrier in the Netherlands, were also rumored to be getting the Pre. Although the rumor has since been dispelled, the company is "very interested in the Pre". And since they have strong connections with Telefonica, keep an eye on them in the future. The rumor began when the Pre was spotted on a support site for the carrier. If it comes to pass, a September launch is possible.
For over a month since the Pre was released, users have been enjoying syncing with iTunes "just as it would an iPod or iPhone", with few exceptions. The subsequent iTunes 8.2 remained Pre-compatible, however with the latest 8.2.1 update, it seems Apple has wised up to the Pre's webOS infiltration of iTunes posing as one of their iPod devices. In cryptic style, they stated that the update "provides a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices". Palm confirmed the news late yesterday, after their support forums got word of the broken syncing.
However, Pre users are a hardy bunch, and a number of solutions are already on the table. Palm spokesperson Lynn Fox stated eariler that users can transfer the music via USB, stick with a previous version of iTunes that remains compatible, or consider other third-party applications. Users have also suggested using doubleTwist or The Missing Sync software as alternatives. Have you been using iTunes with your Pre, and if so are you doing anything to keep the functionality intact?
Palm and Sprint are continuing their ad campaign for the Palm Pre, most recently with a new TV commercial, the second spot featuring the "Flow" theme. While the new one is more low-key than the first commercial (which featured a sea of martial arts performers similar to the Beijing Olympics), it gives a short look at the webOS cards interface, while in a serene setting. While she is browsing the cards, she says "Bing, bing, bing", which (coincidentally?) is promoting Microsoft's new search engine, Bing. What do you think of the new TV spot?
As for Sprint's recent efforts, they were recently recognized for their Now Network Campaign, notes Precentral. Sprint took home the Golden Lion award, one of the world's top advertising prizes, at the 56th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. In total, there were 208 finalists (from 2,205 entries) in the Cyber category. They also took home four Silver Lions and a Bronze Lion on the Digital Category, and were the only brand to take home multiple awards within a category. Sprint's advertising agency, Silverstein & Partners, was chosen as Interactive Agency of the Year. Watch the latest Now Network ad with the Palm Pre after the break.
If you've never played Bejeweled or Zuma before, then you might still be stuck playing Snake on your old Nokia. Garth Chouteau, a senior director of Popular mobile software company PopCap Games discussed their future in an interview yesterday, confirming their plans to bring their line of addictive games to webOS and the Palm Pre. Here's what he had to say:
"We have plans to support the Pre, as well as Android. There are games in the works for those devices. But it is certainly a kind of splintering of the market in some ways. I guess what I would say is, we think about platforms or prospective platforms in a couple of ways. One is: is this device right for one or more of our games? Is this the right kind of device for our games? Will it be a fun experience, and frankly as fun as it is on other platforms? And also, what is the audience for this particular device? And then certainly, but certainly not insignificantly, what is the install base?"
This is good news for mobile gamers everywhere, and should give a boost to gaming interest on the Pre, which is already growing. Flash support is also expected to augment the webOS game selection when it comes to Pre later this year, while emulators in development such as for Playstation and MAME could potentially provide hours of fun on the go.
Fans of listening to internet radio on their Palm Pre will have reason to breath easy today. Pandora (one of the Pre launch partners) whose webOS internet radio app is top-rated on the App Catalog, has been under pressure by SoundExchange to hike their streaming fees to exuberant levels, essentialy forcing Pandora to start charging for their services or close down. They have been looking for a solution for some time now, but to no avail.
However, a deal was reached, in which SoundExchange reduced their per-song-per-listener fee by 40-50%, or collects 25% of total US revenue generated by Pandora; whichever is higher. To compensate, Pandora will now be putting a 40-hour / month listening cap on streaming music, or a $0.99 fee for unlimited listening for the month. So if you're a heavy listener, you may now have to dole out a buck.
Sounds like a good compromise, considering a month's worth of internet radio costs the same as a single song over iTunes. If you're a Pandora user, would you be willing to pay more for internet radio, should they ever hike their fees?
Last week, sales estimates of the Palm Pre totaled about 150,000 units. However, an updated report via Wireless and Mobile pegs the latest number at closer to 370,000 units sold, including 300k units in June and 70k units sold in May. This, in conjuction with many Sprint and Best Buy locations selling out of the initial 120k units, means that the demand is still high for Palm's newest smartphone.
In addition, at the current rate of about 15k devices a day, sales could best one million Pre smartphones in the first quarter, easily making it the most successful mobile launch in Sprint's history. To cope with demand, StreetInsider reports that Palm has doubled its order of the Pre to Taiwan handset supplier Foxconn, from 650k units to 1.2M units.
According to a report yesterday by the Guardian, Telefonica-owned O2 has won the exclusive UK distribution rights for the webOS Palm Pre. Palm is expected to confirm the exclusivity by next week. This backs up previous rumors that O2 had bested competitors Vodafone and Orange, and brings the Pre that much closer to Spain and Latin America via Telefonica, and O2 in Ireland.
However, Palm continues to stay tight-lipped about their plans for a GSM version of the Pre, despite a Vodafone SIM being spotted in a Pre at Barcelona in February and other carriers Bell Mobility (Canada) and Teltra (Australia) moving forward on their plans to carry the webOS handset. A couple new sightings of the GSM version have since been reported, this time in Vietnam and London. So at least we know it's out there.