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) --



launch at


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goes from a drip to a dribble.

Just two weeks after Palm's Pre and Pixi debut at Verizon, the phones aren't exactly flying off the shelf.

After the initial "soft launch," Verizon stores were selling one to two phones a day on average, writes RBC analyst Mike Abramsky in a note Wednesday. That pace has since doubled in the past week with three to four phones now being sold on average each day at each store.

The Palm sales update comes as analysts and investors look for clues as to how well the phones are doing as they move to a wider distribution with Verizon, the nation's top wireless shop.

Unfortunately for Palm, the tepid sale performance revives concerns that

Verizon is snubbing Palm

, or at least may not be pouring all its resources into Palm promotions.

"January 25 is not a date you think of when you are launching a major new product," says an industry analyst who asked not to be named. Kickoffs for big product introductions are ideally held in conjunction with key dates like Valentine's Day -- or at least on a weekend. Launching on a Monday in late January suggests Verizon may be just going through the motions on this.

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Or how about the Super Bowl? What would say "marketing commitment" more than a dazzling Palm Pre commercial wedged somewhere between the Bud Light and Dorito ads last Sunday?

RBS's Abramsky says it is too early in the Verizon marketing campaign to make any assumptions about risk or upside to Palm's full year sales targets, which he estimates to be about 4 million phones this year.

But judging by the $100 million marketing campaign Verizon has launched for the



Droid and the growing family of


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Android phones, Verizon has its hands full.

Palm's journey back from near-death as a smartphone pioneer rides on the success of the Pre and Pixi.


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exclusive sales agreement with Palm last year didn't fare that well against the AT&T


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iPhone team, Verizon's lineup of Droids or

Research In Motion's

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Palm's WebOS operating software is new to Verizon, and possibly suffering from a bit of a learning curve as Verizon staff and customers get acquainted with the system. So there may be some adjustment period that is hampering Palm's early success at Verizon.

Onward and upward, as some might say. AT&T said last month that it will carry two Palm phones this year, but the company has not disclosed important details like which phones, at what price, and when.

Palm shares are down less than 1% to $9.40 Wednesday. After posting a 211% gain last year, Palm has had a weak start in 2010. The stock is down 24% for the year.

-- Written by Scott Moritz in New York


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