A post yesterday at TheStreet.com had to send both Palm employees and Palm stockholders into a tizzy. The site said
that Verizon had decided to pass on any webOS devices, but Friday, other sites and analysts disputed that claim.
Thr original rumor noted that Verizon was not happy with Pre sales so far (though realistically, Verizon should take the fact that it was Sprint that was selling the device, considered the #3 carrier in the U.S.) and also that Verizon wanted to focus on its VCast application and download store, rather than Palm's App Catalog.
However, today analysts are chiming in, disagreeing with that report. An example is Deutsche Bank’s Jonathan Goldberg, who in a research note this morning, dismissed the report as “off base." He wrote:
“We believe the press reports late Thursday afternoon that Verizon would not launch the Palm Pre are incorrect. Our checks continue to point to healthy carrier demand for the Pre early in calendar 2010. We believe Palm has placed orders with the supply chain for another version of the Pre with features highly consistent with a Verizon launch.”
Tavis McCourt at Morgan Keegan & Co, was just as skeptical. He said:
“Palm reiterated its FY2010 guidance, which we believe REQUIRES a launch at Verizon (you just can’t get there with just Sprint and AT&T). Verizon has carried just about every Palm product in its history, and the Pre is clearly the best. We do not have insight as to the marketing support Palm will get from Verizon, but we see little risk in not getting a placement at this carrier. The timing of the rumor post-deal makes it equally as dubious as the timing of the ‘Nokia will buy Palm’ rumor during the roadshow.
“Feb. holds the potential to be a strong Pre quarter as shipments to Sprint likely stabilize and distribution expands to Verizon Wireless (our assumption). Palm’s success at Sprint has typically been a good barometer for shipment trends at VZW and, with a postpaid sub base that’s roughly 3x as large as Sprint’s CDMA business, the market opportunity at VZW is much larger. However, Pre trends at Sprint were aided by the device’s near term exclusivity and a large base of existing Palm users upgrading their devices, both factors that VZW lacks.”
Besides all that, does anyone notice the strong resemblance between Palm's recently announced Pixi and the Centro? Add to that the fact that the Pixi will likely come in at $99, which was the Centro's price, and then remember that Palm sold boatloads of Centros. Those Centro owners will be coming up on the ends of the contracts. What better device to move to than the Pixi?
Additionally, you might recall that Verizon was the last to jump on the Centro bandwagon after seeing how well the device was selling for Sprint and AT&T. It would be hard to imagine them missing this boat.
Still, if Verizon did pass on webOS, it would be a major blow to Palm. The company needs all U.S. carriers to take its products if it is to survive.