The Palm Pre may not be coming to Verizon Wireless after all.
According to a report from TheStreet.com, Verizon Wireless execs are reconsidering whether to begin offering Palm's touch screen smartphone in January as many have anticipated.
The Pre was announced at CES in January amid much fanfare. And after months of anticipation, Palm launched the device in June exclusively on Sprint Nextel's network. Shortly before the device was launched on Sprint's network, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said it would offer the Pre on the Verizon Wireless network within six months.
Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse said the device was exclusive to Sprint through 2009, which left many market watchers expecting a Verizon version to land sometime in January 2010. Hopes for a Verizon version of the Pre were bolstered recently when Palm's new CEO Jon Rubinstein said he expects the device to be offered on other networks very soon.
But now it looks like Verizon is having a change of heart. The Street.com said its sources have cited several reasons why Verizon execs may be getting cold feet. For one, the Palm Pre has had modest sales compared to sales of competing devices such as Apple's iPhone or Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices. According to story, Sprint has not sold more than a million Pre phones so far, which has spooked the Verizon execs.
Another issue is that Verizon supposedly wants its VCast application and download store to be featured on the phone. But this will compete directly with Palm's own app store. Yet another reason why Verizon might be balking at a deal is that the company plans to put most of its marketing might behind new RIM BlackBerry devices and the Motorola Google Android devices that will be launched later this year.
Supporting the Pre would not only require Verizon to invest in more marketing to push the device, but it would also require the company put resources into supporting Palm's WebOS operating system.
If TheStreet.com story is true and Verizon does not sell the Pre, it will be a major blow to Palm, which needs to expand its sales channels for the device. The company has already announced a few other deals for the Pre. Bell Mobility in Canada and Telefonica's O@ in the U.K. and Germany are also exclusive partners.
Palm representatives were unable to be reached, but they declined to comment in TheStreet.com story. And Verizon Wireless representatives declined to comment.