I recently explained why I thought Sprint made a rather large strategic marketing error in pricing the Palm Pre
at the equivalent price of an iPhone: $199 (after annoying mail-in rebate that turns many buyers off). In fact, I argued why it would make a lot more sense to further subsidize the phone all the way to free, and make up the money on the backend with more subscriptions. Given how heavily invested Sprint was in the Pre, and how pathetic the sales have been to date, it really makes very little sense to keep the price so high. So, at the very least, I thought it was a good first step this morning when it was "announced" that Sprint was offering the Pre at $99
. Of course, there were some silly things about this promotion as well. First, it only applied to new customers, transferring numbers over from other carriers. What better way to mock your loyal customers than to offer others a better deal? Second, they didn't just discount the phone, but gave you a "credit" that was split over the first three bills (better than a mail-in rebate, but still annoying). However, what was even stranger was that Sprint didn't even seem to understand the promotion itself. John Paczkowski noted that in some places on Sprint's website it said the promotion ran until October 10th. In others it said October 31st.
Apparently, the confusion at Sprint headquarters went well beyond that, because as the company attempted to sort out the confusion, it announced that it was doing away with the special promotion entirely
. And yet, even after announcing it, the offer page remained on Sprint's site. It's not at all clear what happened here, other than Sprint seems somewhat clueless in how to do basic promotions, pricing and marketing. Obviously, the company intended to offer the phone for $99 -- it's on the company's own site. And yet, now it's suddenly claiming that it was a mistake? I can already see the business school case study on how not
to launch an innovative smart phone.