European Palm Pre launch damned by faint praise

No queues formed when the Palm Pre went on sale in Europe, with retail staff being less than enthusiastic about the sales volumes, commenting that it had only sold ‘quite well'. Despite high-profile advertising by O2--the exclusive distributor of the new Palm Pre handset--sales have been reported as slow with complaints from retail outlets that potential buyers were unaware of the device and it certainly lacked the iPhone's popularity.

O2, which launched the device in Germany and the UK last week, maintains that the Pre is selling well. "We've sold more Palm Pre alone today (launch day) than we normally sell total devices on a Friday," said an O2 spokesman. "And one in two customers is buying a Touchstone charger, with the majority buying two."

However, O2 has declined to release any shipment numbers and there have been no reports of shortages--unlike with the launch of new iPhone models. One analyst claimed the iPhone 3GS would continue to outsell Pre in Europe by a ratio of over five-to-one.

Interestingly, O2 and Carphone Warehouse retail staff are not being offered any different rates of commission to sell the Pre over the iPhone or any other handset. Meanwhile, HTC's Hero handset continues to gain glowing reviews and upbeat consumer comment as the most likely contender to the iPhone.

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