Can Palm Pre Steal iPhone, BlackBerry Thunder?
Latest ChangeWave Research Consumer Smartphone Survey Suggests Palm Pre Faces “Obstacles” But Also Great Opportunity
While Palm’s position at the top of the smartphone heap back in June 2006 (chart above) stands as a reminder of how good the company and its devices once were there is no doubt that its current 8% market share illustrates just how low it sunk over the past three years compared to competitors such as Apple and BlackBerry that have continuously released better devices and increased their own market shares of a constantly growing smartphone market.
However, a recent Consumer Smartphone Survey of 4,292 cell phone owners conducted by ChangeWave Research reveals that the Pre has generated significant new consumer interest in Palm devices with the number of future smartphone buyers selecting Palm increasing by 400% between Dec. ‘08 and Mar. ‘09 thanks to the Palm Pre announcement while interest in BlackBerry declined somewhat and Apple remained equal.
Having said this, the number of consumers who said they were Very or Somewhat Likely to purchase the Palm Pre (1% and 4% respectively) was considerably lower than similar responses for BlackBerry Bold (17%) and Original iPhone (16%) before their releases – perhaps an indication that the Sprint/Palm marketing machine has not yet properly started and that work remains to be done raising awareness of the Pre in the market.
ChangeWave research director Paul Carton however also points out that “while early interest for the Palm Pre is less impressive than the early interest for the Bold or the iPhone, considering the enormous struggles Palm has had in recent years, the Palm Pre appears likely to breathe life back into the company if the new model performs even close to expectations."
Clearly though Palm will need to overcome some serious obstacles including outperforming two very robust competitors (Apple & RIM) as well as overcoming widespread negative perceptions about the company’s most recent product portfolio and the exclusivity for the first 6 months with Sprint.
Currently, the iPhone tops the satisfaction league (chart above) with a staggering 79% rate while RIM is second with 50% and Palm a distant seventh with only 31%. Additionally, ChangeWave found that 21 percent of respondents are likely to buy an Apple iPhone 3G in the future.
Sprint’s Palm Pre exclusivity also appears not to be ideal. Leaving aside the fact that switching carriers just to have access to a particular smartphone always polls badly, the fact is that Sprint lags in carrier market share with just 10% of the US market compared to 31% for AT&T and 30% for Verizon so the immediate potential of the Pre will be more limited than those of other exclusive smarphones such as the iPhone (AT&T) and BlackBerry Storm (Verizon).
Overall though I think that it’s extremely difficult to predict the future performance of a “revolutionary” device such as the Palm Pre compared to just an “evolutionary” device. There’s no doubt that the Pre has some serious obstacles to overcome but there’s equally no doubt that the Pre will offer one of the most innovative smartphone solutions on the market when it is released in May/June so we could all be in for a very pleasant surprise...
For more information: ChangeWave Research
Preonauts are always revolutionaries…