After striking a 2-year exclusive deal with Palm to sell the Palm Pre in England, O2 is scrambling to increase sales after an extremely lackluster and disappointing launch.
Mobile Exec writes that “O2 is sending specialist training staff into its stores in an attempt to boost faltering sales of the Palm Pre.” We’re curious, though, if the specialists being sent in are sales gurus or tech folks looking to teach O2 retail employees the ins and outs of the Palm Pre so that they can better explain to customers the device’s capabilities and functions. If it’s the latter, than Palm is in even more trouble across the pond than we realized. One of the key selling points on the iPhone is its intuitive and easy to use interface that almost anyone can figure out the first time they pick up the device. It’s not like you see Apple sending specialist training staff to its stores in order to boost sales. And besides, shouldn’t this type of training have occurred before the Pre went on sale?
Still, stagnant Palm Pre sales more likely have more to do with the ever growing popularity of the iPhone than anything else. Mobile Exec writes of one O2 retail manager who said that iPhone sales are more than 20x that of the Palm Pre.
The iPhone is a more established brand and there has been more advertising. They are both good handsets but, with such a small price difference, customers take the view they might as well go for the iPhone.
As the price of competing smartphones continue to converge to the $199 range, customers are increasingly basing their purchasing decisions on what a phone can actually do, and the Palm Pre simply can’t compete with the iPhone and its 100,000+ app store on iTunes.
To be fair, another O2 retail manager pointed out that Pre sales have struggled to get off the ground because O2’s credit checks are much more stringent than those of Orange. “We have lost customers because of that,” the retail manager stated, “so now we won’t try and sell the Pre unless a customer specifically asks for it.”
Also factoring into the equation are software problems with the Palm Pre, with one retail employee observing that even though they’ve sold a lot fewer Pres than iPhones, returns on the Pre are a lot higher because of software glitches.
Though touted as an iPhone killer, it seems that the Palm Pre is anything but. It’s not a crappy phone by any means, but as with most anything looking to dethrone an Apple product these days, you can confidently file it away in the “too little, too late” category.