Disappointing Palm Pre launch, iPhone extravaganza today

San Francisco (CA) – The wait is almost over and we will know in a few hours how Apple’s new iPhone will look like and whether there will be an Apple netbook or not. As expected, Palm launch its iPhone rival Pre over the weekend, but initial reports about a short supply proved to be true. The company may have only sold 50,000 to 200,000 units, or just about 10-20% of what Apple was able to move on the first two days of iPhone 3G availability.

In the end, Palm’s Pre smartphone became available over the weekend and as anticipated, the available phones sold quickly and according to analysts, most locations sold out quickly. Sprint, which has exclusive rights to carry the phone at this time, apparently gave stores between 30 and 50 units each, but we also heard reports of only five phones in some Chicago locations. The lowest sales estimate came from JP Morgan Chase’s Paul Coster who said that Palm may have moved “more than 50,000 units”, while other analysts such as Jonathan Atkin from RBC Capital Markets mentioned about 100,000 units and Michael Walkley from Piper Jaffray believes the number may be closer to 150,000 to 200,000.
Palm did not reveal any shipment or supply numbers for the Palm Pre. It seems that Apple had a much more comprehensive launch of the iPhone 3G, which reportedly sold more than one million units in its first two days of availability. However, Apple launched the iPhone 3G in 21 countries on the same day, covering many more potential customers than the Pre currently does. Sprint had to come up with waiting lists similar to the “direct fulfillment” lists AT&T used during the iPhone 3G launch and promised customers that more Pres would become available this coming Wednesday.

It was important for Palm to beat Apple to launch, as the company may have been lost in the media frenzy that we expect to follow today’s Apple keynote. But the short supply is clearly a concern and Palm will have to follow up quickly and make the Pre widely available. The device received favorable reviews overall and analyst Rob Enderle even went as far as saying that it is the best smartphone on the market today.

Apple is expected to launch the new iPhone 3.0 software as well as at least one new iPhone device today. The rumored big news will be an upgrade to 16 GB and 32 GB of memory as well as video recording capability. There has been quite a bit of chatter about a cheaper iPhone and if we believe some reports, that phone will simply be the 8 GB version of the current iPhone 3G, which may sell for $99. Phil Schiller, senior vice president of product marketing at Apple, will lead through the keynote, but it seems that chief executive Steve Jobs may actually be making a surprise appearance on stage.