The latest rumored release date for Palm’s comeback device, the Palm Pre, is June 7th, one day before Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). If true, this would be an audacious move from the handset maker, and one that, at first glance, carries a lot of risk. WWDC is thought to be the venue at which Apple will announce the next generation iPhone – and possibly a new category of mobile device – therefore completely overshadowing the Palm Pre’s one day old availability.
Or would it?
The assumption is that Apple’s next gen iPhone will up the stakes – on a technology and user experience front – against the Palm Pre and all other competitors. While it looks like the Pre has borrowed from and leap frogged the iPhone on a number of fronts, Apple has done the same with the upcoming iPhone OS 3.0 software update. Instead, perhaps Palm should be more worried about new hardware, but then again, the Pre versus iPhone battle is primarily about software, as is the smartphone wars overall.
For the sake of argument let’s presume Apple does announce a new device at WWDC that does meet or exceed expectations. Where would that leave Palm if the Pre has gone on sale just 24 hours before? It’s easy to see how Apple’s hype machine could completely blow Palm off the news agenda, but I think that the opposite would in fact happen. With the story of the Pre’s general release being just one day old, it will inevitably become part of any iPhone story. Palm and Apple have plenty of history too – good and bad – providing the perfect back story. By going on sale one day before WWDC, Palm is hoping that the Pre will pre-empt the next gen iPhone and ride on the coat tails of all of Apple’s inevitable publicity.