What appears to be a deliberate plan to create an opening day shortage of Palm Pre smartphones may backfire and, in any case, makes it look like Palm and Sprint have money or production problems.
It could be a case of turning lemons into lemonade when Sprint boss Dan Hesse recently predicted shortages when the Pre hits store shelves on June 6. Maybe Sprint and Palm have been unable to produce (or pay for) the number of units the could potentially be sold. Or maybe they are just being silly.
Published reports speculate that Palm will have 375,000 units to sell. That seems like a lot, perhaps, until you consider the iPhone 3G sold more than a million units in its first three days of availability.
Palm and Sprint may think creating a shortage will enhance the hype surrounding the new phone. But, it may also just give disillusionment time to settle in if the Pre doesn't live up to its hype. Disappointed first-day customers may decide they are happy they had to wait and delay the purchase indefinitely.
A better approach might be to "sell while the selling is good" rather than count on the Pre's ability to generate pent-up demand to be fulfilled later. Or perhaps the two companies know the Pre won't sell as well as they hope, so they are ramping down expectations while simultaneously ramping up the hype.
Nobody knows, but on June 6, we will start finding out. With Apple expected to announce its new iPhones shortly after the Pre release, Palm and Sprint should probably try to sell as many Pre's as they possibly can before their own "reality distortion field" wears off.