Like the Pre? Wait Until It’s Actually Finished

Palm is taking a page from Apple’s iPhone strategy book when it comes to keeping things quiet regarding its newly-announced Pre smartphone and webOS mobile platform.

The two things Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) will say is that it is focused on completing software development and network certification requirements and expects devices to be available by June.

“We put all the news out at CES and everyone is back in the office working on the platform and device and not available at this time for interviews,” spokesperson Leslie Letts told

Beyond that, Palm is mute. It’s not providing review devices to media or analysts, or interviews until the foreseeable future, said Letts.

“When we’re ready to talk about the next step, we’ll have people available. We have provided a fair amount of information at the show and good insight at this point,” Letts added.

Palm’s Apple-like approach on the Pre, however, may be tied to its unique financial situation, according to industry watchers. Analysts said the new device and platform are Palm’s key to rejuvenating its market share and prominence as a player.

The Pre comes as Palm struggles in a competitive market and a dismal economy. While it reported better than expected revenues in the third quarter of $366.9 million, above analysts’ estimates of $329.9 million, it also reported a net loss of $41.9 million.

“Palm is being very careful as it has a lot riding on both efforts and they want to get it right,” Michael Gartenberg, editor of Mobile Devices Today and tenured mobile analyst, told Mobile Devices Today is owned by Jupitermedia, which also owns

“The first impression has to be favorable and the products have to work as promised when they are pushed out,” said Gartenberg in assessing Palm’s strategy.

The initial Pre impression from CES has been one of awe. Not only did Palm win best of show award, the news spurred global media coverage for nearly two days.

That coverage likely played a role in Palm’s stock share spiking at the time.

Shares soared 34 percent on January 9, for a two-day gain of 80 percent, on optimism that the new operating system and smart phone can reverse market shares losses to Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) and Apple.

While media buzz can play a crucial role in a new product’s user reception, Gartenberg said a lack of buzz over the next few months won’t hurt Palm.

“This first device has to be finished and feature-completed,” said the analyst. “I’m not surprised how careful they’ve been because this isn’t about keeping a buzz going. This is about shipping product and providing a high quality experience the first time it’s used. You only have one chance at making that happen.”

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