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Summary:

Palm officially announced European availability of the Pre handset today, with a delivery time frame of “by the holidays.” As expected, O2 will carry the device exclusively in the UK, Ireland and Germany. Spain will see the Pre on Movistar’s network. Looking through the official specifications, […]

palm-prePalm officially announced European availability of the Pre handset today, with a delivery time frame of “by the holidays.” As expected, O2 will carry the device exclusively in the UK, Ireland and Germany. Spain will see the Pre on Movistar’s network. Looking through the official specifications, I don’t see any major changes. That’s to be expected, although there are some regional differences. The slide-out keyboard on the German edition will be a QWERTZ layout, not a QWERTY like we have in the U.S. The handset won’t use CDMA technology, either. Instead, the radios will support HSDPA/UMTS with EDGE/GSM. Palm hasn’t stated what the 3G throughput will be for the EU model, but I know the networks in Europe currently can be much faster than what we have here.

Interested customers can hit up their regional Palm web site and sign up for notification on the new device. My question now is: Have we Americans scared off European purchasers or are folks across the pond still excited by the prospect of the Pre?

Another musing: How will the introduction of a new handset and platform shake up the European market share numbers? Specifically, will Nokia’s tumbling share continue at a faster pace? Others might suffer as well, but Nokia has a large handset presence in the EU area. The year end market share numbers for the past two years shows an alarming trend for the Finnish device maker. At the end of 2007, Nokia held 50.9 percent of the worldwide smartphone market. That same number a year later for Nokia? It was 40.8 percent, as Research in Motion and Apple roughly doubled their market share while Samsung gobbled up even more of the market.

4q08-smartphone-market-share

You never want to fight a war on multiple fronts, but Nokia simply has no choice. Newcomers like Apple and Google Android are making it difficult, while RIM has successfully transitioned from the enterprise market to the consumer space. Does Nokia have what it takes to fight the Palm Pre army that’s marching towards the holiday time while facing the other combatants? Or will Palm not even make a dent in Nokia’s armor? I’d love to hear from our readers in Europe on this one.

  1. Price determines alot. When you could get the N97 for free on a £45 pcm contract over 12 months people will buy.

    Or do you buy the Iphone 3GS 32gb for £274.23 over an 18 month contract at £34.26pcm?

    The salient facts are that Apple sells 60% of their Iphones in the US.

    Nokia sells I would expect less than 1% of their smartphones in the US.

    Here is something simple. Can Androis phones sync with Outlook and Exchange out of the box? No

    Can Apple Iphone sync with Exchange and Outlook out of the box – no. (it can do one but not both)

    Whether you like it or not Nokia have good PIM functionality and Winmo devices are the easiest to sync with PC.

    With expensive data rates in the UK – people have gone for smartphones with more phone features and text messaging features than pure browsing features.

    The Pre and Iphone are made for an all you can eat data plan. The Nokia and Blackberry are happy to live off the 500mb monthly allowance that many operators sell in the UK as unlimited (yes it’s true). We just don’t use that much data.

    This is from a guy who has had Nokia, WinMo phones and an Iphone.

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  2. I think that the Palm Pre hasn’t generated as must buzz here in the UK, mainly because Apple’s advertising keeps the focus on the iPhone.

    We have plenty of reviews and usage reports coming from the US to help people decide. Poor battery life, questionable build quality and the size of the app store are things potential customers will nodoubt consider.

    Apple’s simultaneous release of the iPhone 3G S into the biggest markets means that people make the purchase before the reviews emerge.

    All things considered, however, the price is the ultimate consideration when considering any phone. The monopoly that O2 has on the iPhone has meant the entry price of obtaining one is just too high for the majority of people and, coupled with relatively high tariffs, has made people look elsewhere.

    O2 has won the monopoly on the Palm Pre so we can expect to see similar high tariffs and initial costs, which won’t help the Palm Pre fly out the door….

    I own an iPhone 3G S. I made the purchase back in June and to be honest, it was because there was just no information, rumour or otherwise, on when the Palm Pre could be expected in Europe. If I had heard anything, I would have waited.

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  3. I very much doubt Nokia is worried about the Palm Pre in particular. They’re certainly worried about Blackberries, the iPhone and a bit about Android, but I’d imagine very little about the Pre.

    Here’s why:
    - Palm is a pretty much a no-name in Europe. Treo’s never had any significant market share (it’s always been fairly hard to actually get one subsidized by a carrier in fact), and their PDAs disappeared too long ago for average people to even connect them to the Palm brand I’d say.
    - Both O2 and Movistar also carry the iPhone and other so-called “hero” phones in most of the mentioned countries, so the Pre won’t get all that much needed advertising attention for itself. The situation differs a lot from the US, where the Pre stands pretty much alone in Sprint’s lineup and advertisement focus.
    - The hardware is simply lackluster, especially for a November 2009 release. Dire memory limitations, a mediocre camera, questionable build quality, small keyboard, bad battery life…I don’t think it will manage to stand out well even just against the competition in the O2/Movistar portfolio.

    Overall, I’m at best expecting a mild success of the Pre in Europe, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being a Treo-like also-ran here.

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    1. L, I agree with your list of why I don’t think Nokia has anything to worry about with the Pre. There may eventually be a WebOS device that can compete with the solid Eseries or powerful Nseries, but the Pre is not the device to do it. Palm has never been known for high quality products (I have owned most of them) and it is going to take something more than the Pre to impact Nokia’s worldwide market share. I owned the Pre for a couple of weeks and while it was a pleasant UI, the hardware needs work and they need apps.

      I think Android may eventually impact Nokia sales, but I think the downward trend we are seeing is more of an adjustment to account for new players and the success of the iPhone. I think the trend will halt soon and then Nokia has the opportunity to really take off with Symbian Foundation open source products in 2010.

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  4. InTheBushes Tuesday, July 7, 2009

    L, its a good thing the mainstream doesnt listen to the same FUD that you do.

    its always amazing to me how the geek world thinks the rest of the world feels the same way they do. geeks really have no clue how clueless the mainstream is. in some cases its a good thing though, the mainstream doesnt have to experience the Apple zealots “plot” of going around to various Palm sites creating fake threads (already exposed by some archived IRC conversations). how come no HIGH profile folks with reputations to lose are significantly bashing the Pre?

    the whole situation is rather pathetic & why i tend to avoid certain sites now. look at the GRAND scale of the situation not just the selective info that soothes your discontent.

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  5. InTheBushes, obviously you do a terrific job of refuting my assessment point for point – thanks for your insight.

    Hint: random insults have never worked for anybody, all they do is make you look like a fool. But I love how you called me an “Apple Zealot” – you could not possible be more wrong :D

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  6. Well, L., at least when it comes Germany (quite a big market), your assessment is just plain wrong : o2 doesn’t currently sell “high visibility” hero phones, certainly not the iphone, it’s rapidly expanding its market share, has a decent enough coverage, new & affordable flat rates, and will certainly give the Pre all the attention it deserves.
    Cheers

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    1. As I said – “Both O2 and Movistar also carry the iPhone and other so-called “hero” phones in MOST of the mentioned countries”, Germany is the only exception. In both Ireland & UK, O2 carries the iPhone 3GS, and Movistar ES also carries the HTC Dream (and thus likely other Android devices by November), so the Pre won’t get the sole spotlight in pre-Christmas advertising.

      O2 Germany will offer both the Samsung i7500 and the Toshiba TG01 exclusively as well, so the Pre certainly won’t be alone in the carriers advertisement attention, no iPhone or not.

      And much of O2 Germany’s growth actually comes from no-frills customers (under the Tchibo, Fonic & Alice Mobile subbrands) and data-only customers – neither exactly the target market for an expensive smartphone like the Pre…

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  7. Shows how good the Pre is as a 1.0 product that it generates this level of FUD from Apple fanboys. Mostly what I hear is praise.

    Don’t know about Europe, but in the UK…

    6 months ? Forget it. Who cares what happens in 6 months. Plus the press release talks about “The Holidays”. “The Holidays” means summer holidays. Nobody, outside of an American Airbase thinks that “The Holidays” is “here in time for Christmas”. Luckily we have people to translate. But essentially it shows the lack of care that Palm have of marketing outside of the US.

    Flipside is that the product will be more mature.

    I do think the “Palm Pilot” still has a lot of goodwill. Treo less so.

    Unlike L, I think O2 stores being the “smartphone store” … in fact THE “smartphone store is a positive rather than a negative. All the best phones under one roof. Well trained staff (OK, I can dream) can walk you through the available phones, and you buy.

    However, outside of major geekdom, there is little or no buzz. Very few people are aware of the Pre.

    I think it may do well, particularly against the growing iPhone ennui. Yes, it is the best consumer smartphone, but they are everywhere, and they all look the same.

    Against Nokia ? Different market segment. But I think they should be worried, the N97 is so dated in many ways. People stick with Nokia though, so it may be hard to shift them.

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  8. LOL @NigelG – when I first read the advert I thought it was going to be out this month.

    Then I realised when the Yankees have holidays.

    The iPhone has a cool cachet – a phone to “be seen” with. I don’t think the Pre has that (just like blackberries and the like).

    At Christmas time the majority of sales in Ireland seem to be at low-to-mid-level pricing as present for the teenage kids, the missus etc – I doubt that the Pre (or any non-cool smartphone) will fill that gap.

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