It doesn’t matter which way you slice it: It’s looking like Sprint’s exclusive on the highly anticipated Palm (NSDQ: PALM) Pre may only last for six months.
Yesterday, Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam said during a webcast, that it plans to start offering the Palm Pre in the next six months or so, and a spokesman with Sprint (NYSE: S) Nextel confirmed its agreement with Palm runs through the year. “We have the Pre through 2009,” spokesman James Fisher told Dow Jones.
While a six-month head start is fairly typical for an exclusive, I think many thought Sprint’s agreement with Palm would last longer, and be similar to AT&T’s agreement with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). AT&T (NYSE: T) has had the iPhone exclusive for at least three years, and now it’s pushing to extend it to 2011. Sprint has been doing a fair amount of advertising and evangelizing about the Pre, so it only seemed like a reasonable assumption. While this may be bad news for Sprint, which was expecting the Pre to be its flagship device that will generate new interest in the carrier, it may be OK. Sprint’s period of exclusivity falls during the super critical period of the year, where phone sales increase as kids return to school and the holidays hit.