The Palm ( PALM) Pre could debut with a $150 price tag. With the Palm Pre arrival due within weeks, Credit Suisse analysts have taken another look at what's in store. The analysts estimate that the subsidized price, widely expected to be $199, may be as low as $150 if exclusive partner Sprint ( S) decides to make Pre a priority and sweeten the offer.
Sprint is desperate for an Apple ( AAPL) iPhone-like blockbuster device to help stanch the flow of customers out the door. Sprint is in a similar position with the Pre to the one AT&T ( T) was in last year. AT&T cut the iPhone price from $500 to $199 by bearing more of the customer's cost. If Sprint raises its subsidy budget as high as AT&T did for the iPhone, the Pre would sell for $150 and undercut the iPhone by $50, according to Credit Suisse analysts. The big upfront investment paid off for AT&T -- $199 iPhone sales continue to surge. Last quarter, AT&T signed up 1.6 million new iPhone customers, and 640,000 were from other telcos like Verizon ( VZ) and Sprint. Credit Suisse also estimates that Palm will sell 1.3 million Pre phones this year, and 3 million next year. By comparison, Apple sold 4 million iPhones the first year and about 13 million the second year. A hefty Sprint subsidy could juice Palm Pre's numbers a bit higher.