Rumor: Sluggish Palm Pre Sales Put Second webOs Project on Hold

Palm's Pre may have hit the news with a big splash, but a hot rumor has just suggested that the follow-up phone, codenamed Pixie, may now be on hold because the Pre's sales weren't quite as good as hoped.

Palm Eos

It's no secret, of course, that Palm's pretty much betting its entire future on the success of the Pre smartphone. But Palm's kept the sales figures for the first weekend under wraps, and the best estimates of industry analysts have put them between 50,000 and 100,000 units. Palm's even saying it sold out of its inventory, but that's a plain ol' bit of sneakiness, since the number it had actually available on sale was incredibly low--sometimes down to one or two units per Sprint store. The iPhone 3G's opening weekend saw sales somewhere near the one million mark, to give a sense of perspective.

And now TechCrunch has heard from an insider contact that the successor phone to the Pre, called the Eos and also codenamed Pixie in the leaked webOS code, has been rethought. Specifically, "Palm has decided to put the Pixie on hold until they have better visibility into how its current models are selling in the market."

If that's true, then it's a fact that has complex meanings. It could mean that Palm has problems in its production line--which may explain why there are so few Pres to go around. That's backed up with some evidence that deliveries of the Pre were reduced in number due to its "complicated mechanical design" causing low yield issues.

On the other hand, it could mean that Jon Rubenstein, now fully in control of the company, is exploring whether or not to scrap the Eos and concentrate the engineering team's efforts on improving the Pre. That's roughly the sort of action he took when he joined Apple, cutting non-promising projects. And if you look at the leaked images of the Eos, it's not hard to see why Rubenstein might doubt it's promise: It looks rather less revolutionary than the Pre, and a lot like the company's older Treo phones.

This is speculative, of course. But those sales figures for the Pre don't look too exciting. We'll have to wait until Palm makes official figures available to know for sure, though.

[via TechCrunch

Related:
Palm Pre Review Roundup: Why They Love It, Why It Might Not Beat iPhone
Now That He's in Control, Can Jon Rubenstein Turn Palm Around Too?
Palm Pre Vs iPhone 3G S: Feature by Feature Comparison

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