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, 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.
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.