Palm Pre Kick-Off Courts Enterprise Users

By  Susan Nunziata — June 05, 2009

Although neither Palm nor Sprint have released official sales figures from the Pre's first weekend on the market, RBC Capital analyst Mike Abramsky estimates that 45,000-55,000 of the devices were sold, with another 10,000-15,000 potential buyers on waiting lists.

He predicts Palm is on track to sell 470,000 of the smartphones in its first quarter, and 2.6 million in its first 12 months.

Meanwhile, Chris Larsen, an analyst at Piper Jaffrey puts first-weekend sales numbers closer to 100,000.

Perhaps it's just coincidence that Sprint and Palm kicked off their New York City pre-launch event for the Palm Pre smartphone on June 5, 2009, with Coldplay's Viva La Vida playing in the background

After all, the song's chorus of "When I ruled the world" surely wasn't meant as a veiled dig at Apple's iPhone. Was it?

Sprint and Palm representatives at the Roosevelt Hotel event -- which included business customers, analysts and media -- heavily focused on the enterprise benefits of the device and its new webOS platform.

Meanwhile, the June 8, 2009, announcement of the new Apple iPhone 3G S played up mostly consumer-friendly features.

The Palm Pre is being positioned as a pivotal part of Sprint's enterprise strategy. This strategy also includes the launch earlier this year of its Business Markets Group headed by President Paget Alves, as well as an emphasis on unified communications and converged fixed-mobile services.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse says almost half of the carrier's revenues came from the business sector in the last quarter.

The Pre is being positioned as a single-point solution for melding your business life and your personal life.

Its webOS platform integrates among business and personal email, calendars and social networking tools such Facebook and Twitter.

Features also include synchronization to multiple Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync accounts, and it integrates into an existing MS Exchange infrastructure.

The EVDO Rev A 3G device also features GPS Navigation and WiFi, and is compatible with Sprint Mobile Locator and Business Mobility Framework.

Security features include four-digit numeric PIN lock and password lock for up to 35 alphanumeric characters. If the device is lost or stolen, a kill pill can be sent over the air for remote wiping.

Emails can be viewed with full HTML support. In addition, the Pre has a native document viewer for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF documents. The Palm webOS operating system makes it easy to install and manage digital certificates.

Multiple applications can be opened and used simultaneously on the device, and there are a variety of options for layering calendars and linked contacts from multiple sources.

Applications will be available in the App Catalog, the company's version of an App Store. Most of the applications avaialble at launch are consumer-focused.

However, Sprint's Tim Donahue, VP of Marketing, remarks that the carrier enables a "whole host" of mobile business applications.

Donahue says additional business apps will be available shortly. However, he stresses that, in addition to connecting users with prepackaged mobile enterprise solutions, the carrier wants to offer an open environment to enable enterprises to "pretty simplistically" create the custom applications they need for the device.

Dave Whalen, Palm's SVP Global sales, notes that legacy business apps developed for the original Palm OS will work on the Palm Pre. "The applications that run your business can be quickly ported over to the Palm Pre," says Whalen.

While the Pre doesn't yet support some of the advanced unified communications/FMC functionality "out of the gate" Donahue says that's in the game plan as well.



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