Internet forums are atwitter about Palm Pre build quality issues. The revelation that the Palm Pre might be shoddy could not come at a worse time for the company, as it struggles to find sure financial footing.
A comment left at Palm enthusiast Web site Precentral.net sums up many of the quality problem that early adopters claim to be experiencing:
“Im [sic] on my THIRD pre (yellow box). Over the last two weeks, i’ve noticed an increasing amount of play with the screen. I’ve also noticed that on the left side of the device the two sections are separated enough that i can almost see the innards. When I push them together, you can hear squeaking. On top of that, the device came with a loose power button that doesn’t click nearly as firmly as that of other devices.”
Last week, RBC Capital analyst Mike Abramsky estimated that Palm has sold 150,000 Pre units so far. That is not as widely successful as the iPhone 3GS, but it’s a promising start. However, the Pre’s promise might fall short if it gains a reputation for being unreliable.
The iPhone is stiff competition, but Palm faces an additional challenge from RIM’s Blackberry Tour and new Android phones. Palm’s acclaimed WebOS operating system cannot keep pace on unreliable hardware. Meanwhile, Palm’s stock has become a new favorite of short sellers due to its dismal earnings report last week and lack of guidance about future Pre sales. Palm’s Pre could be its last best hope, but the company still has a huge challenge in front of it.