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In a potentially strong blow to Palm's comeback plans, Verizon Wireless has ditched its plans to offer the Palm Pre early next year, according to published reports.
The nation's largest wireless operator was widely expected to offer the Pre smartphone in early 2010, although Palm and Verizon have never officially announced this would happen. The reports cite unnamed sources close to Verizon who said the carrier has not been impressed with Pre sales so far, and Verizon may want to focus its marketing efforts on upcoming BlackBerry devices as well as Android phones.
Neither company responded to media inquires as of press time, but the move would put a damper on Palm's plans to get back to the top of the smartphone market. The company has not released Pre sales figures, but sales have not exceeded 823,000, which is the total number of smartphones Palm sold last quarter.
While this indicates solid Pre sales, rival Apple sold more than one million units of its iPhone 3GS during its launch weekend. Palm likely needs to offer its devices on top-tier carriers like AT&T and Verizon in order to have blockbuster sales figures for its webOS devices.
Some analysts have already dismissed reports Of Verizon taking a pass on the Pre. Deutsche Bank's Jonathan Goldberg called the notion "off base."
"We believe the press reports late Thursday afternoon that Verizon would not launch the Palm Pre are incorrect," Goldberg wrote in a research note. "Our checks continue to point to healthy carrier demand for the Pre early in calendar 2010."
Earlier this year, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said the carrier would offer "devices like the Pre," which indicates the wireless operator may get another webOS smartphone. Palm has already introduced its second webOS smartphone, but the Pixi is slated to launch exclusively on Sprint later this year.
Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).