iPhone Nano Spoiling Pre’s Party?

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Despite what seems like hundreds of case manufacturers jumping the gun and offering iPhone Nano cases for pre-order, the Macworld keynote last week came and went, and there was no Nano to be seen.

The cellphone world did get a shakeup, but not from Apple. Instead, news arrived from the unlikely source of Palm that a brand new, touch capable smartphone with an equally brand new operating system would be coming soon to a provider near you. I’m talking about the Pre, in case you missed it.

The Pre, whose niche is not yet exactly clear (it isn’t a dedicated multimedia phone, nor is it really a powerful business machine, according to AllThingsD), will be available in the “first half of 2009,” according to Ed Colligan, Palm’s President and CEO. Now, I’m pretty sure they were hoping to have the time to themselves, but it looks like they might be out of luck. Chinese business newspaper Economic Daily News is reporting that two of China’s chip manufacturers will be taking on contracts from Apple to produce iPhone Nano chips. If the newspaper is correct, the orders will be placed in March, with a June rollout date in mind for Apple’s new baby smartphone.

Were Apple to actually stick to this rumored timeline, they would significantly harm Palm’s buzz. First of all, Apple has the hype factor going for them. They need only drop an invite for a special event and the press will be salivating. Second, the iPhone Nano could strike where the Palm Pre is most vulnerable, namely on price point. Colligan has hinted that the Pre will not be cheap, and the Nano will clearly beat the iPhone 3G on pricing, so it’ll be more attractive to those still sitting on the smartphone fence.

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