AT&T, Sprint Smackdown: Palm Pre "inferior" to iPhone

You would think that if you had the iPhone you would be happy with your good fortune and content to let others live their lives. You would be wrong.

AT&T and Sprint are locked in a fierce smackdown over which is better, the Apple iPhone offered exclusively by AT&T or the Palm Pre, a hot new device expected to make its debut nearly anytime now on the Sprint network.

Fierce Wireless reports that AT&T executives are dissing the PalmPre in internal memos, saying it is inferior to the iPhone "in almost every way."

"The comparison is based on public information, and such side-by-side feature and function match-ups are common practice, according to an AT&T spokesman. The document is intended for AT&T retail employees who may need to deploy the talking points to combat consumers' questions about the differences between the two smartphones," Fierce wrote.

Elaborating on a theme we addressed the other day here at the SprintConnection, Ad Age suggested that Sprint and Palm are facing a critically important decision on when to let the Pre out to run.

"The Pre is pegged as a hoped-for hit that will breathe new life into not just Palm, which has been steadily losing market share in the smartphone space, but also its struggling carrier partner, Sprint, which shed 1.3 million customers last quarter and lacks a marquee handset," Ad Age wrote. "Sprint is in desperate need of a hit. It's more important to Sprint than Palm that the Pre comes out quickly," said telecom-marketing consultant Mitch Gooze. Brad Akyuz, an analyst with Current Analysis, said, "They have to do whatever it takes to ship in early May so it can take the spotlight."

The new iPhone is expected by many to arrive sometime in June.

Gary Krakow of is betting that the Pre will arrive closer to the launch of the new iPhones.

"According to my sources, the Pre should be a reality in mid-June (give or take a week or so). Palm has been trying to get a jump on the situation by starting to beat all of its advertising drums for the pending release. Single, full-page ads like in The Wall Street Journal last week are just a drop in the bucket," Krakow wrote. "Now I'm hearing that the ad campaign might be suspended by a week or two, same for the formal release from Sprint. That's why I'm thinking a mid-June release is a safe bet.The highly anticipated phone -- along with webOS, its brand-new operating system -- has already begun to give other companies fits. Apple (AAPL Quote) was the first to react when the Pre was introduced. And now, Apple's iPhone partner AT&T(T Quote) is reportedly sending internal memos that boast to their people why iPhone is a better deal."

Considering how seriously the folks at AT&T are taking the Pre, maybe it really will pose the long-awaited threat to the vaunted iPhone.

Or, maybe it is just a symptom afflicting a bunch of AT&T executives who, as GigaOm suggests, might have an unhealthy relationship with Steve Jobs' shiny devices.

"To better illustrate the growing Apple addiction at AT&T, let’s go back to AT&T’s fourth-quarter 2008 results," Om wrote. "During that three-month period nearly 1.9 million 3G iPhones were activated, and 40 percent of them, or about 760,000, were new to AT&T. In other words, 36 percent of AT&T’s new customers signed up because of the iPhone."

Healthy or not, the AT&T execs probably have no interest in going through iPhone rehab anytime soon, according to Saul Hansell over at the New York Times Bits blog.

"Still, with the sort of numbers AT&T reported this quarter, the company has every reason to make Apple an offer it can’t refuse to keep its exclusive deal for another few years," Hansell wrote. "Of course, the incentives for Verizon are presumably the mirror image. While some of AT&T’s new iPhone customers come from Sprint and T-Mobile, a good chunk of them might well move to or stay with Verizon if that company also offered the iPhone. There also may be a group of Verizon customers who would upgrade to an iPhone if it were available, and in doing so move to a more expensive data plan."

Apple is uptight for good reasons
Submitted by craigers on April 27, 2009 - 7:16am.

Apple is giving more attention to the Pre because it has to. Apple is afraid of the Pre for good reason. The Pre gives you a keyboard that is easy to type on, unlike all touchscreen phones. The Pre will pull all of your info, contacts, and calendar information from work, home, facebook, etc. The Pre allows you to have multiple apps open at the same time. You can listen to Pandora while surfing the web! Palm announced they will have backwards compatability with old Palm apps too. You can charge the Pre cordlessly on a magnetic charger as well as changing batteries yourself! I admit I was impressed by the iPhone but everything I didn't like about the iPhone like no multiple apps, no physical keyboard, no camera, no on-board GPS, on AT&T, etc have been delivered in the Palm Pre. And to top it off you can be on the network that provides the most dependable 3G data coverage. For a real productivity smart phone, the Pre is the choice. And in time, there will be applications for the Pre that rival the same applications on the iPhone.