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Palm Pre Slows, So Sprint Hopes Android Will Be Its Hero

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hero front_0005_f2screen.jpgSprint (s S), the beleaguered mobile carrier, today announced that it will start selling HTC Hero, a touchscreen phone based on Google’s Android OS, on Oct. 11 for $179. The availability of this device only underscores how badly Sprint needs a fast-selling smartphone model.

Sprint had been betting big on Palm Pre (s PALM) to make a strong play in the fast-growing and lucrative smartphone business. Unfortunately, things have not worked out as planned. Some analysts say that Sprint, which had hoped to sell 1-1.5 million Pre devices in the first year, will miss that target. Palm is selling about 25,000 devices a week, according to David Eller, an analyst with Town Hall Investment Research. The device is being hurt by the availability of the BlackBerry Tour, which is one of the best smartphone devices. The HTC Hero looks pretty much like the HTC-made MyTouch currently being sold on T-Mobile, with a few changes.

It is part of a few dozen Android phones that are slotted for release later this year. Much as I would like to think that HTC will be Sprint’s Hero, it will be hard. With so many Android devices, including some Motorola (s MOT) is likely to announce at our Mobilize 09 conference, Sprint would have to do something special to stand out in the crowd, which is dominated by the presence of the iPhone 3G.

32 Responses to “Palm Pre Slows, So Sprint Hopes Android Will Be Its Hero”

  1. “The device is being hurt by the availability of the BlackBerry Tour, which is one of the best smartphone devices”

    The BlackBerry Tour – one of the best smartphone devices? Are you kidding me? GigaOM must be sponsored by Blackberry to have allowed that statement.

    Palm Pre is much superior than the Blackberry and all of the Android phones. It beats the iPhone in every department except for the number of apps. Prepare for an app explosion by the end of September to start chipping away at that advantage.

    • I am a blackberry user and i love the tour.

      On Palm Pre, if you look at their relative sales versus Blackberry Tour, you know who is selling more. In fact the buyers are voting with their wallets.

      You make good points about Pre, except none of that matters if the device doesn’t sell. Does it. 10,000 units a week is not enough for them to stay in business.

    • Looks like the prediction was pretty accurate. The app explosion started today with Palm’s launch of the first paid apps.

      Palm also beat or met every single analysts expectation at their last earnings call and jumped 20%+ as the shorts got squeezed on wall street.

      Now Palm just announced it was opening up the platform even more as they changed their terms — open source apps are welcomed and may be distributed outside the official app catalog! (source:

  2. “Some analysts say that Sprint, which had hoped to sell 1-1.5 million Pre devices in the first year, will miss that target. Palm is selling about 25,000 devices a week, according to David Eller, an analyst with Town Hall Investment Research.”

    25,000 devices*52 weeks = 1,300,000 Pre sold during the first year. So they will be meeting the target of 1-1.5 million sold.

  3. Should Sprint step up and be the leader for in-app purchases for Android ( sorely neglected aspect of the Android Market ) they could see the Hero as, well, …their “hero”.

    If Sprint just issues the phone with stock Android, not participate in Android’s development, no sweetening with in app purchases, then “no” it won’t save them.

  4. AndroidFan

    just fyi the image on your article is the HTC Magic, not the HTC Hero. I’m a little confused, is Sprint getting the Hero which is actually the Magic or do you guys have your pix wrong?

  5. Hi Om,
    Unfortunately, I agree with gdp…it’s that simple. :-(

    But, this device is very cool and I have had the opportunity to see it live and very impressed by the plethora of apps. The HTC interface is amazing and very useful.

    But about the quality network, I agree about that. Sprint’s CDMA network was always built in a 1900 MHz design. They never had the opportunity to deploy 800. So, lets put this in perspective and give an example to illustrate how Sprint is positioned to deliver a good data service:

    In a metro, let’s say 5 sq miles are covered by 2 800 MHz towers…So, in those 5 sq miles, every subscriber is covered by those two towers and thus they are all competing for bandwidth from those two towers.

    Now, in a 1900 MHz data world, that same sq miles are covered by 4 towers. Those, those subscribers are divided up between those 4 towers, all competing for the bandwidth out of those four towers.

    So, this means, that Sprint has more tower assets, more backhaul costs, but it also means the devices will have a consistently higher throughput (sure the peaks may be exceeded by others, but the average data experience will be higher on Sprint than other carriers). And you have seen this reflected by gizmodo and boygeniusreport surveys.

  6. Heh – any phone manufacturer who is going to rely on an operator via the “exclusivity channel” is going to come togrief – even Apple. So Palm is no exception.

    If Palm wants to see the real potential of a groundbreaking phone to emerge, it needs to grow up, stop aping Apple with it’s tie-up with Sprint, and ALLOW THE MASSES TO BUY THE PHONE instead of asking for our social security numbers! :)

  7. oh well,
    All sprint has to do is market aggressively about how cheap it is compared to AT&T.
    IMHO , the iPhone lovefest is keeping AT&T afloat.
    There is no reason why folks pay more to AT&T and get less service / features compared to SPRINT.

    OTOH, the average SPRINT store employee is brain dead. They can’t explain the good features of these smart phones to the prospective customers.

    Its doomed for failure , I doubt it can even sell 10000 per week ( half the Pre sales).

    • Actually if they said: we drop one tenth the amount of calls as compared to Ma Bell, well, they can do well. :-)

      Quality of the network is going to define future fortunes. Wait and see, especially when all this 3G stuff starts to degrade everything.

    • Sprint plans are not cheaper than AT&T by any yardstick. I have two iPhones and two Pre’s and pretty much paying the same monthly amount to both AT&T and Sprint.

      Regardless, Sprint and Palm have both missed the boat … at least for now. By the time network issues hit mainstream media, it will be too late for them to recover with just PR alone. AT&T would have made just the right amount of infra investments to keep their nose above water. Sprint and Palm need to do some radical out-of-the-box thinking to get out of this hole, unfortunately.

      • you may pay the same for the iphone but its a better deal for sprint seeing as you get unlimited EVERYTHING. not to mention iphone wifi only in places where where wifi is available, the pre has the sprint now network where internet is on the go all the time. you also get unlimited tv and data which on iphones would probably be at least an extra $40..esspecially for unlimited internet since iphone users dont even pay for that since they use free wifi.

      • I do not know what you are paying… but this is what I have with Sprint and I wouldn’t give it up to save my life with AT&T. I get all this for $69.99 bucks a month. Can AT&T beat that???

        * Everything Data 450 $69.99
        * 450 Anytime Minutes Included
        * Nationwide Long Distance Included – FREE
        * AMERICA – ROAMING Included – FREE
        * Unlimited Any Mobile, Anytime – FREE
        * Unlimited Sms Text Messaging – FREE
        * Unlimited Picture Mail – FREE
        * Unlimited Data Usage – FREE
        * Sprint TV – FREE
        * Sprint Radio – FREE
        * Sprint Navigation – FREE
        * Sprint Data Essentials Pack – FREE
        * Nights & Weekends Start at 5PM-7AM – FREE
        * Caller ID – INCLUDED
        * Call Waiting – INCLUDED
        * Three-way Calling – INCLUDED
        * Voicemail – INCLUDED

    • Sprint Employee

      WHy dont you come to the corp store i work at and say it to me face to face, I dont know if you have been going to a 3rd party sprint dealer but us at the sprint corp store go through lots of traing and know all the details weeks before the phone is launched.