Palm Pre Shoots to Rival the iPhone Launch

Last week, Sprint and Palm released the Pre to rave reviews that praised the device for being the first true competition to the iPhone juggernaut.

Palm and Sprint drove substantial traffic to their web sites with the announcement of the Pre at CES in January, in a move similar to Apple’s unveiling of the first generation iPhone at MacWorld two years earlier. Nearly 400,000 people visited Pre-related pages on Sprint.com and/or Palm.com the week of the announcement.

After months of speculation from industry analysts and consumers, Sprint and Palm announced on May 19th that the Pre would be available for purchase on June 6th. As one might expect, visitors to the Pre pages on Sprint.com and Palm.com jumped after many weeks of flat traffic and jumped again the week the device finally became available for purchase.

This chart shows the number of people researching the Pre and the original iPhone, indexed to the device’s launch week. As you can see, the Pre may be getting a healthy amount of interest from consumers online, but it doesn’t rival the interest seen in the original iPhone launch. Likewise, Sprint and Palm’s traffic spike the week of the Pre launch didn’t match the massive jump Apple experienced upon the iPhone’s release.

  • Aggregate traffic for the Pre from both Sprint and Palm’s web sites increased 84% the week of launch to over 475,000 unique visitors.
  • Traffic to Apple.com‘s iPhone content increased 102% the week of the iPhone launch to over 750,000 unique visitors. Note that this is just traffic to Apple.com — this number would be even higher if AT&T’s traffic was included.

Apple’s relentless hype machine and strong brand equity played significant roles in this major increase, but a significant factor may have simply been the relative sizes of the websites involved, as you can see in the following chart.

The truth is that Palm.com does not attract visitors at comparable levels to Apple.com, and, to a lesser extent, the same can be said about Sprint.com compared to Wireless.ATT.com. However, considering the relative sizes of these sites, Palm and Sprint did a solid job at driving interest in the Pre and are already reaping the benefits of this highly anticipated launch.

The next real challenge will be sustaining interest and sales of the device — one great sales week hasn’t propelled any of the previous iPhone challengers to the top of the heap.