The acclaimed Palm Pre product will be launched this week by Telefonica in the UK, Ireland and Spain under the O2 and Movistar brands. Distribution of the handset, which will ship next month, was won by Telefonica over FT Orange which had also competed to distribute the iPhone in the UK, and lost.
How Telefonica positions the Pre will be interesting to watch given that it has less features than the iPhone and yet is expected to be priced similar to the Apple handset. Palm could have negotiated a weighty marketing budget from O2 to ensure the launch attracts new users, although the operator is reported to be struggling under the high subsidies and ongoing marketing of the iPhone.
Analysts have estimated that O2 UK will ship around 65,000 Pres in the first month during its exclusivity period, with around 300,000 being shipped from its launch date.
While not commented upon officially, the Palm Pre looks set to launch shortly in the Netherlands with the KPN mobile operator Hi. KPN and Telefonica have a close relationship, with the Spanish firm being frequently mentioned as looking to invest in KPN.
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