Official sales figures are not out yet, but if its sold-out status at virtually every Sprint and Best Buy retailer is any indication, then the much anticipated debut of the Palm Pre (and the new webOS) is a smashing success. Bloomberg.com is reporting that Palm may sell as many as 150,000 Pre phones this weekend and that number is likely to rise in the coming weeks as waiting lists are filling up fast.
Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless operator, owns exclusive rights to the Pre through at least the end of the year, but Verizon and AT&T have also expressed interest in carrying the phone. I tried to purchase one of these contenders to the iPhone throne this weekend but I was unsuccessful and relegated to a waiting list. Local Sprint retail stores, even those with an allotment of 60 units, sold out in just an hour or two. The Best Buy stores in the city where I tried to buy one in (Portland, Or.) had only two each, and those were sold minutes after their doors opened.
Friday, before it was officially released, I did get a chance to play with the Pre a little bit and tested one again on Saturday at a local Sprint retail store. My initial impression is that it is pretty cool indeed. First of all, it looks sleek and feels really good in my hand. The touch screen display is large and the Qwerty keyboard is adequate, if not a little small. The user interface is instinctive and both the browser (full HTML browser based on the WebKit application framework) and the webOS are lightning fast. It comes with most everything you would expect from a $299 smartphone ($199 after rebate), including a camera with flash. And of course, it is perfectly capable as a telephone also. The only obvious reason the Palm Pre is not an iPhone killer just yet is its lack of available apps.
Fortunately, our own Sarah Perez has really done her homework on the new Palm Pre and its new webOS and you can find that post here. Be sure to also read posts from Bloomberg.com and Gizmodo and watch a video review on YouTube for even more information. We knew it wouldn’t take long for someone to want to tear this thing apart to see what makes it tick (it’s the nature of the geek, right?), so for all of you morbid tear-apart-the-toaster types, there’s this.