Beleaguered Palm’s Pre outsold by iPhone 20 to 1 at O2 UK; O2 tries to boost faltering Pre sales

“O2 is sending specialist training staff into its stores in an attempt to boost faltering sales of the Palm Pre,” Carol Millett reports for Mobile Today.

“O2 touted the smartphone as an ‘iPhone killer’ when it launched the device under a two year exclusive deal with Palm this autumn, but retail staff have reported a disappointing response,” Millett reports.

Millett reports, “One O2 retail manager told Mobile: ‘We have sold 20 times more [iPhones than Palm Pre handsets]. 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.'”

Millett reports, “Software problems are also affecting sales of the Palm Pre, according to retail sources, and returns are relatively high. One source said: ‘We have sold less [Palm Pres than iPhones] but there are more returns because of software problems.'”

MacDailyNews Take: There are reports of hardware problems due to poor build quality/design and materials choices, too:

Analyst: Palm Pre sales slow, returns high; Apple’s iPhone 3GS very successful – July 21, 2009
Analyst puts ‘Sell’ rating on beleaguered Palm; Pre return rate as high as 40% – July 20, 2009
Palm Pre users complain about lack of virtual keyboard – July 09, 2009
Ars Technica: Traveling with a Palm Pre is draining; makes you want your iPhone back – July 06, 2009
Disillusioned Palm Pre sufferers complain as they watch their devices fall apart at the seams – July 01, 2009
Report: Palm Pre screen crack issue emerges; cracks radiate from center ‘home’ button – June 17, 2009
Palm Pre’s plastic touchscreen yields festival of scratches (with photo) – June 17, 2009
The Boy Genius’ hands-on review of Palm Pre: ‘Feels like a Fisher Price toy; disappointing keyboard’ – May 29, 2009

Millett continues, “Retail staff attending an O2 supply chain meeting reported seeing large amounts of unsold Palm Pres in the warehouse. O2 has now deployed a team of sales specialists to train in-store staff in a bid to boost Palm Pre uptake in the Christmas period.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: O2 should not press to shackle their less knowledgeable customers with dead-end devices; it will only result in dissatisfaction down the road. We can hear the duped crying out to O2 in unison in the near future, “WTF didn’t you advise me to buy the iPhone?! We trusted you. Our mistake, but it won’t happen again.”


  1. I’m sure Jon is (or perhaps was) very proud of the Pre. Conceptually, device alone might even be decent. I have no doubt, there must be many happy owners.

    Once you put the device in perspective, the picture changes. Those who are happy came either from an ordinary dumbphone, or from a Win Mobile. Since everything is relative, for them, a smartphone with a reasonably responsive touch screen and full browser is infinitely more appealing than a dumbphone, or a moronic smartphone with an unresponsive resistive touchscreen and convoluted, counter-intuitive OS.

    O2 may be doing themselves a disservice by shoving those Pres out into the people’s hands. If the customer satisfaction rates drop, this may go straight back to O2.

  2. The argument for “ads” selling product both amazes and saddens me.

    I own every item I own after I’d 1st put my hands on it and took it for a spin.

    Doesn’t matter what it is- From my car to my computer to the shoes on my feet- All were tried before handing over that mighty dollar.

  3. As usual, I completely agree with Predrag: the Pre is a fine phone compared to everything that existed pre-iPhone. The problem is that they are up against the iPhone, not everything else on the market. This will eventually come back to haunt O2.

    Anyway, too little too late for the Pre….

  4. ‘We have sold less [Palm Pres than iPhones] but there are more returns because of software problems.'”

    “but” there are more returns? Doesn’t he mean “and” there are more returns?

  5. Speaking of specialist staff instore, I was in a Comet Electricals store recently (in the UK) looking at their excellent Apple displays (I remember the time when all you could find were a couple of token iMacs that were probably switched off) when a member of staff approached offering me help.

    “There’s nothing you can tell me about Apple” I thought smugly when he explained that he actually worked for Apple UK, not Comet and had been seconded to give customers the right info regarding Apple tech. It’s refreshing to see these stores realising how wrong they’ve been all these years and now making big efforts to serve their markets properly.

  6. “specialist training staff”
    – Would those be people who teach the store clerks to jump between the iphone display and the approaching customer, and say, “Noooo, no, no, no. You don’t want the iPhone. You want this iPhone-killer, The Pre!”

    If I was Apple, I would be looking in to just exactly what these specialist training staff will be doing.

  7. Only downside with the pre is the limited number of app’s but the multitasking i along with a few other features is now something I could not live without, along with the very important fact that the signal quality/reception is much better.

    O2 were really pushing the iPhone 3gs onto me, not the pre when I upgraded my handset, but I went with the pre and am happy I did. Also whenever you call O2 you just listen to the same 02 advert again and again while waiting to talk to someone, it was iPhone every step of the way, no pre exposure at all.

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