Palm may limit Pre supply to build buzz

Palm may limit its stockpile of Pre smartphones at launch to fewer than 400,000 units, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The goal? Generate more buzz after the handset quickly sells out. 

The analysts said they expect Palm to have a stockpile of around 375,000 units at the device's debut (the figure is the median number of units the six analysts surveyed predicted). The effort to limit the number of devices could be a calculated move to mimic the launch of the iPhone 3G last summer, which sold over 1 million units in three days amdist shortages at Apple stores.

Palm, and its exclusive U.S. carrier partner Sprint Nextel, are banking on the Pre to be a major success. Palm hopes to revive its relevance as a player in the smartphone segment and Sprint is looking for a hit device to stem the tide of departing subscribers. Analysts concluded that the Pre launch is a make or break moment for Palm, and that the device's sales needed to live up to the hype that has been building around it.

The smartphone maker declined to discuss specific rollout plans for the Pre. "We're working really closely with our carrier partner on distribution," said Leslie Letts, a Palm spokeswoman.

In other Pre-related news, market researcher iSuppli concluded in a preliminary analysis that the Pre will cost about $138 to build. The firm said Palm is likely to sell the gadgets to Sprint for $300 each, and the carrier will then retail the Pres at $200 after a $100 subsidy. Palm also declined to comment on iSuppli's analysis.

And finally, the biggest unknown about the Pre is when it will launch. Some have pegged the launch at May 17, taking their cue from purportedly leaked internal Sprint documents. However, there is growing speculation that Palm may wait until June 7 to launch the Pre, a day before a likely Apple keynote address at its WWDC conference, when Apple might unveil the latest iPhone incarnation.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg News article
- see this iSuppli breakdown article
- see this Pre launch speculation post

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