Sprint ( S) has sold a healthy 350,000 Palm ( PALM) Pre phones in the seven weeks since its debut. The update comes from RBC analyst Mike Abramsky whose research team has been monitoring traffic at some two dozen Sprint stores. Not only does Abramsky find "sustained momentum" in Palm Pre sales, but also the return rate has been low, running between 2% and 3%, he noted in a research report Friday. If true, this would put the Pre in the ranks of Research In Motion's ( RIMM) hot Tour phone debut at Verizon ( VZ), and help calm concerns that Pre sales had dropped off. It could also revive hopes that Palm's up-from-the-ashes recovery hasn't fizzled yet. Palm's Pre and particularly the new WebOS mobile phone software system aren't only the key to Palm's turnaround, but it is also sweet takeover bait.
Palm Pre and Nokia N97: A Second Look
As more touchscreen phones hit the market, a new generation of Web-friendly, swipe-and-poke software systems threaten to displace the old scroll-and-click operating method. Palm's WebOS along with Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone and Google's ( GOOG) Android system represent the vanguard of these new operating systems. The success of Palm's WebOS increases the chance that a larger player -- think Nokia ( NOK), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), Motorola ( MOT) -- could buy Palm as a quick entrée to the fast-growing smartphone market. There had been some reports that the Pre cooled quickly after its debut. In fact, after the initial June 6 launch, news about Palm's Pre phone was predictably scant as Apple's newest iPhone and $99 predecessor dominated the headlines.