Palm Pre timeline

With the imminent launch of the Palm Pre, it's worth taking a look back over the past two years to see the rumors, announcements, speculation and hype that brought us to this point.


2008

Dec. 2 - Palm releases its revenue numbers ahead of its second fiscal quarter earnings announcement. The smartphone maker said "reduced demand for maturing smartphone and handheld products" was contributing to the drop in revenue, and that it expected between $190 million and $195 million in revenue, below Wall Street expectations. All eyes turn to Palm's "Nova" OS to revive its fortunes. Article

Dec. 15 - Word leaks that Palm will be debuting its Nova OS at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January. BusinesWeek notes that Palm in mid-1007 brought in Jon Rubenstein, formerly an Apple product development specialist who led work on the iMac and iPod, to help turn around the flagging firm, and Rubenstein was bullish on the new platform. Article

Dec. 19 - Palm's second fiscal quarter earnings come out, and they are even worse than anticipated. Palm reports a $506 million loss and posts revenues of $171 million, down 39 percent from the year-ago period, and below the lowered expectations from earlier in the month. Article

Dec. 22 - Elevation Partners throws Palm a lifeline with a $100 million equity investment. Article

Dec. 23 - As if to add insult to injury, ChangeWave Research issues a survey that finds Apple and Research In Motion growing their smartphone market share while Palm's remains at a standstill. Article

2009

Jan. 5 - The first screenshot of what is purported to be Palm's latest device leaks out, days ahead of CES, showing a smallish device with a Qwerty keyboard. The game is on. Article

Jan. 8 - The suspense is finally over. Palm announces its new platform, webOS, and its new device, the Pre, captivating the wireless world and taking over CES. Sprint Nextel announces it will launch the device in the United States, sometime in the first half of the year. The main draw of the touchscreen device with the slideout Qwerty keyboard is Synergy, which Palm said would simplify customers' mobile Web life by combining calendars, contact lists and messaging programs into single interfaces. Article

Jan. 14 - Citi analyst Jim Suva makes a bold prediction: Palm will sell 1.5 million Pre units in the first year of its U.S. launch. Pundits begin to clamor for pricing and strategy details. Article

Jan. 22 - Apple sells 4.4 million iPhones in its fiscal fourth quarter. The company also sends a shot across the bow, presumably to Palm: "I'm just making a general statement that we think competition is good; it makes us all better. And we're ready to suit up and go against anyone," Apple COO Tim Cook says in the company's earnings conference call. "However, we will not stand for having our [intellectual property] ripped off and we'll use whatever weapons we have at our disposal. I don't know that I can be more clear than that." Article

Jan. 26 - Just days later, Palm fires back at Apple, saying it would defend itself against any litigation that may arise over intellectual property rights. Article

Feb. 19 - According to a report on CNBC.com, which cited unnamed sources, Sprint Nextel is to have exclusive rights to the Pre until the end of 2009, which would give the carrier a window of perhaps six to seven months to capitalize on the deal. Separately, Palm demonstrates a UMTS version of the Pre at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Article

March 9 - Palm said it will remarket $49 million in shares that Elevation Partners had purchased, in a bid to increase its cash flow ahead of the launch of the Pre. Article

March 13 - Palm and Sprint offer up a few morsels of new information in a webinar meant to generate hype for the Pre. Neither Palm nor Sprint provides any details about pricing or a launch date, but they confirm an over-the-air application store for the phone. Article

March 20 - As was expected, Palm's revenue falls dramatically in advance of the Pre launch. The company said it lost $98 million in its fiscal third quarter, compared with a loss of $57 million a year earlier. Palm also said smartphone revenue fell 72 percent to $77.5 million, and that total revenue for the company was $90.6 million, compared with analysts' expectations of $105 million. Article

April 20 - Sprint begins promoting the Pre, buying a full-page color advertisement for the device in the Wall Street Journal at a cost of $246,000. The Pre also appears at the end of a Sprint TV commercial. Article

April 23 - A day after both AT&T Mobility and Apple tout the success of the iPhone 3G, an internal AT&T memo surfaces disparaging the Pre. The timing of the leak of the memo is notable in that Apple executives decline to discuss the device during a quarterly conference call. Article

April 23 - A report from Bloomberg News hints that Palm may limit its stockpile of Pre units at launch to fewer than 400,000, according to surveyed analysts. The goal? Generate more buzz after the handset quickly sells out. Although there is still no official launch date, speculation mounts that the Pre will land on store shelves at about the same time as Apple's WWDC event, where the company may unveil the latest iPhone. Article

May 6 - With no launch date set by Sprint yet, Bell Mobility jumps into the Pre fray and announces it will be the fist carrier to launch the device in Canada, sometime in the second half of the year. Given Sprint's reluctance to announce a launch date, the Bell announcement led the blog Engadget to quip that readers could "feel free to start the countdown until 11:59PM on December 31st, 2009." Article

May 19 - Sprint finally gives the wireless world what it has been waiting for: pricing and availability information for the Pre. The carrier announces the Pre will launch June 6 for $199.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate. Article

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