by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
marketing, palm pre, positioning, pricing

palm, sprint

Sprint Offers Palm Pre For $100 For A Month, Maybe Two... Then, Oops, Not At All

from the great-moments-in-marketing dept

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    faceless (profile), Sep 8th, 2009 @ 5:48pm

    the only reason i'm still with Sprint is i have SERO and they keep getting the Windowa Mobile HTC Phones that i like (i use custom ROMs, not the slow and bloated Sprint ROMs) and i'm getting a Touch Pro2 soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Funnyads, Sep 8th, 2009 @ 6:02pm

    No Thanks...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Chunky Vomit, Sep 8th, 2009 @ 6:29pm


    Seems like all cell phone companies make things so horribly complicated. When are they going to figure out that simplicity is probably the best way to go? If they can't figure things out, then how do they expect their customers to figure things out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 8th, 2009 @ 8:47pm

    Re: Re: Complicated

    Haha the guy on the phone is so condescending (as he should be...) when he's talking to the rep "do you realize there is a difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents?" and then the rep: "... [long long awkward silence] no?" Wow. POWERS OF TEN PEOPLE, powers of ten...

    Kudos to that dude for recording the call and not loosing his patience and screaming at the rep. He really does not understand basic math.

    Wow. Still listening to the call; it only gets worse. The woman rep is even dumber. HAHA she said it is "A MATTER OF OPINION" on the difference between .002 dollars and .002 cents holy shit. I can't believe it. They did not give his money back either. Wow. Just wow. I'm never doing business with Verizon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Leonidm, Sep 8th, 2009 @ 8:49pm

    Sprint has best plans (for me), cheapest rates, and BEST phones (besides iphone) and good retention policy. Happy people do not write to those forums, and it's hard to make everybody happy. Personally I'm happy with Sprint.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Sep 8th, 2009 @ 9:50pm

    Pre or Pixi

    That's all well and good, but Palm appears to have different plans that Mike's idea of offerig the Pre at a lower price.

    They are introducing a slimmed down model using WebOS called the Pixi, which will go (first) to Sprint and sell for about $100. The Pixi is a lot like the Pre, but significantly smaller, and a little slower.

    A cheap, powerful, modern OS smartphone that is slimmer than the iPhone? Palm is on to something there. Get it with the global GSM carriers, and it'll get traction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Chucklebutte (profile), Sep 9th, 2009 @ 1:28am


    I wont even go there with sprint. Verizon has done me very well the past 4 years regardless of what people say. If I had to take a bullet for either one, hands down Verizon>Sprint.

    My main gripe is how carriers lock in phones, needs to be one standard and all phones work everywhere. But I live in a fantasy world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Steve R. (profile), Sep 9th, 2009 @ 5:15am

    Sprint Bad

    Yet another reason not to have Sprint.

    NY Times article: Sprint Nextel Loss Widens as Subscribers Decline

    The Times writes: "Sprint’s marketing continues to be dragged down by public perception of poor service quality, the chief executive, Daniel R. Hesse, told investors in a conference call. While Sprint’s network and its customer service have improved, prospective customers have not noticed yet." Apparently Hesse is NOT in touch with reality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Aaron Toponce, Sep 9th, 2009 @ 5:59am

    Sprint Android

    I'll personally be looking forward to the HTC Hero launch on Oct 11 from Sprint. IMO, the Android is a killer platform, and the Pre is no iPhone killer. I guess we'll see, but I bet the Android will put Sprint back on the map.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Nate, Sep 9th, 2009 @ 9:06am

    Re: Sprint...

    I can't stand how Verizon locks down the phones. I bought a phone from Verizon because of the capabilities it stated to have on the manufacturer's website. My mistake for not looking into it more on Verizon's site, but I couldn't believe all of the things that didn't work. The only way to get like features were to pay extra for things that Verizon offered that the phone could have done on its own. I couldn't even perform a simple sync via bluetooth using the software from the manufacturers website. I talked to Verizon about it and they claimed it was due to FCC regulations. What a bunch of BS. I switched to AT&T because I have had several phones with them from the place I work. They don't cripple their phones. Besides that, I wanted an iPhone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Freedom, Sep 9th, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Rough around the edges...

    Sprint may be a bit rough around the edges, but their service has worked great for me and I've saved a boat load of money over AT&T and Verizon. I also own a Palm Pre and while I'm not over the top in love with it (Bluetooth issues with my Nissan mainly), it is a nice and fun to hack.

    Should the launch/promo had gone right, absolutely, but sh*t happens. Should the person in charge be fired - yes. Is it the end of the world - no. Is it worthy of an article - not really.

    People forget that mistakes happen all the time. For some reason in a tech/online 24x7 world with essentially no privacy that almost every mistake gets noticed by a company and then certain people will go and flame the fires when they seem fit.

    I can think of far better articles about Apple product lock-in with AT&T and with their iPhone device, high cellular rate plan costs caused by lack of competition (by the way, Sprint is one of the carriers helping to keep AT&T and Verizon prices only "sky high"), and how Windows Mobile Phone updates and the Android Phones might be changing the market. Instead I get "junk food" type blogging on a badly coordinated promo from Sprint.

    Time to take it up a notch Mike. We need substance...


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Peter, Sep 9th, 2009 @ 10:02am

    Sprint could treat loyal customers much better

    It seems if Sprint desires to keep customers and allow customers to have a little pride and ownership with their Sprint service, they need will find a way to treat loyalty with both respect and gratefulnesss.

    Both not being able to cut existing customers a good deal on the Pre and not being able to offer loyal customers similar deals on new phones to what new customers get . . . will have lasting effects on the company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2009 @ 9:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Complicated

    He eventually got a refund.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2009 @ 9:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Complicated

    (but I think it was after putting this MP3 all over the Internet and E - Mailing corporate, etc...).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2009 @ 9:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Complicated

    (but I think it was after putting this MP3 all over the Internet and E - Mailing corporate, etc...).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    mobiGeek (profile), Sep 10th, 2009 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Re: Complicated

    I had this EXACT SAME conversation with #RogersSUX in Canada for a trip I made to the US. They quoted me ".006 cents/kb" and I was charged ".006 $/kb". When talking it through, I worked up 3 levels and in the end all three reps/supervisors told me that I don't understand "math" and that the two values are the same thing.

    I plain gave up. I ended up paying $4 for each of the 4 digital pictures I emailed home because it simply wasn't worth the hassle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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  19. identicon
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