Best Buy to sell a $1,000 no-commit Palm Pre on June 7. Do you care?

iphone_3g_and_palm_preIf you’re into the market for a so-called iPhone killer, then you’re likely into Palm’s Pre. A new rumor has Best Buy Mobile carrying no-commit Pre for a whopping $1,000, in addition to a $199 version bound with the usual two-year contract. Do you care? You may have already been delighted by the fact that Pre is rumored to arrive on June 7, a day before Apple is scheduled to take the wraps of the next-gen iPhone. While several commentators expressed doubts over Palm’s decision to go head on against the marketing avalanche that is the next-gen iPhone, including this author, the latest details shed more light on Palm’s plans for their iPhone killer, including possible price points. According to the usually well-informed Boy Genius Report, Palm will indeed trial-launch Pre on
June 7, despite the fact that previous sources hinted that the company will only announce the phone in a special media event scheduled for June 7, followed by a second, yet unknown release window serving as the actual Pre launch pad. According to the website, citing “ninja” sources, the company will simultaneously launch Pre through Sprint’s points of sale and Best Buy Mobile, which are basically stores-within-a-store scattered across Best Buy retail spots across the country. The Boy Genius Report claims that a limited inventory of 4,500 Pre handsets will be made available through Best Buy Mobile stores, priced at $199 for new customers with an obligatory two-year service plan. Existing customers will allegedly be able to upgrade for $299, with no-commit Pre priced at a whopping $999 (yes, you read that right). Christian’s opinion This is an interesting development, especially if you count in the fact that Best Buy became the first independent retailer outside of Apple and AT&T to sell the iPhone 3G. In addition to Apple, Best Buy Mobile also carries major smartphones from T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint, while its president Shawn Score confirmed last moth that the stores now carry 95 different mobile phone flavors, up from 65 three years ago. Of course, you’d expect that a mobile retail chain would want to have as many phones on offer as possible. However, 4,500 Pre units reserved for the Best Buy Mobile launch equal to, by several estimates, an average of one phone per store.This clearly indicates either a trial-launch designed to just fill the distribution channel or too much control that other smartphone makers might have wielded over the retail chain, hoping to block Pre’s market penetration. Unbelievably pricey no-commit Pre option underscores such reasoning. Although Apple’s iPhone, T-Mobile’s G1, and other popular consumer smartphones all sell subsidized at around $199, or even less with Best Buy’s mail-in rebate, there’s a notable discrepancy worth $300 between Apple’s and AT&T’s no-commit $599 8GB iPhone 3G ($699 for the 16GB model) and Best Buy Mobile’s no-commit Pre allegedly to be offered at $1,000. Even if this no-commit Pre version comes unlocked for use on any network (unlike no-commit iPhone that doesn’t require a new service plan but is still tied to the AT&T network), it’s simply way too expensive. I seriously doubt that Best Buy Mobile would dare offer a phone with such an outrageous price tag. Either rival smartphone makers, such as Apple, RIM and T-Mobile, are applying pressure to Best Buy Mobile in order to keep Pre outside consumers’ reach (which would indicate rivals are afraid of Palm) or both Palm and Sprint are intentionally creating artificial barriers in order to push consumers toward service plan option. If neither is the case, then something fishy is happening here. A thousand bucks for a phone? With the economy like this? Gimme a break. May. 5, 2009 (8:32 am) By: Christian Zibreg GEEK.COM