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Pre starts off behind the eight ball

From c|net:

Sprint Nextel and Palm announced on Tuesday an official release date and pricing for the Palm Pre.

The Pre will be available nationwide on June 6 for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate and with a two-year contract on Sprint’s Everything Data plan or Business Essentials with Messaging and Data plan. In addition to Sprint stores, the Pre will be sold online and at Best Buy, RadioShack, and some Wal-Mart Stores.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Pretty much what we expected, and competitive with current iPhones.

Sorta. Don’t forget to read the fine print. Like how that $200 price tag is after a mail-in rebate, so it will actually cost you $300+tax to walk out of the store with it. And then there’s the date, June 6th. That gives them 48 hours to sell this thing before Apple announces the iPhone 3.0 at WWDC. From Wired:

The source told iPhone fan blog Apple iPhone Apps that the new iPhone will launch July 17. Many of the provided specifications corroborate with past rumors that the device will introduce a digital compass and a video recorder, among other features. (The source did not provide a photo; the image to the right is from a past rumor report for the sake of comparison.) Here’s the list:

  • 32GB and 16GB storage (up from the current 16GB and 8GB models)
  • $199 and $299 price points to be maintained
  • 3.2-megapixel camera (up from the current 2-megapixel camera)
  • Video-recording and editing capabilities
  • Ability to send a picture & video via MMS
  • Discontinuation of the metal band surrounding the edge of the device
  • OLED screen
  • 1.5 times the battery life of the current models
  • Double the RAM and processing power
  • Built-in FM transmitter
  • Apple logo on back will glow
  • Rubber-tread backing
  • Sleeker design
  • Built-in compass
  • The camera, GPS, compass and Google map combined will identify photo and inform about photo locations
  • Turn-by-turn directions

Again, this is pretty much what we expected, though both I and Wired find the FM transmitter and OLED screen details a little dicey. But the rest parses with what I’ve heard elsewhere, as well as fitting Apple’s evolutionary update style.

So, this means the Pre will have 41 days, not quite six weeks, to sell against the current generation of iPhones. But once July 17 rolls around, the Pre will have half the storage of the similarly priced iPhone (8GB vs 16GB at the $200 price point, or a quarter of the 32GB that costs the same $300 as the pre-rebate Pre) and will lose a lot of the software advantages the Pre has over the current generation iPhones. The iPhone 3.0 firmware will provide similar universal search and push notification features that the Pre will already have, closing the gap between the two platforms. The Pre will still have true multitasking, but rumor has it Apple’s looking into that as well, and I can attest it’s not hard to add on your own (I love being able to play Pandora in the background while I’m reading).

And on the other side, Blackberry Curves are outselling the iPhone if you count all the Curve models as one. And for half the price of the Pre. So I don’t think Palm is going to cut nearly as much into the full QWERTY messenger market as they will into the sleek touch screen smartphone market.

Is the Pre, on Sprint, worth paying the same price for half the capacity compared to an iPhone 3.0 on AT&T?