Palm investor McNamee says early adopters will flock to Pre

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There are utterances in life that are so mind-bogglingly stupendous that we just have to let them sit, occasionally poking at them fearfully, because we just can’t figure out if they're real. For example, here’s what Roger McNamee, founding partner of venture capital firm Elevation Partners, had to say to Bloomberg about the iPhone:

“You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two- year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone,” McNamee said today in an interview in San Francisco. “Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later.”

Oh, really, Roger? And pray tell what will they be using? While McNamee doesn’t go out of his way to name what those iPhone customers will be packing, it’s no secret that Elevation Partners has a large stake in Palm, which, after disappointing results in its most recent quarter, is banking on its new Pre smart phone to save the company's bacon.

So, yes. According to McNamee, the Pre—which has yet to be seen outside of a brief demo at the Consumer Electronics Show in January—is going to steal away all those people who signed 2-year contracts with AT&T when the iPhone came out. There’s just one teensy-weensy problem there: that’s not exactly a huge number.

You see, the original iPhone didn’t sell a million units until two months after its introduction. The real sales came in 2008, with the introduction of the iPhone 3G—that's provided the bulk of the iPhone's more than 17 million sales.

However, McNamee thinks the Pre is going to pick up the early-adopter market:

“Think about it—If you bought the first iPhone, you bought it because you wanted the coolest product on the market,” said McNamee, 52. “Your two-year contract has just expired. Look around. Tell me what they’re going to buy.”

Well, given the tough economic conditions we find ourselves in, I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to not buy a new phone. Still, you’re really only looking at pool of around 500,000 people who’ll be contract-free. You’re not exactly going to be making a dent in the smart phone market share if those are the people you're counting on.

Right now, of course, this is just McNamee talking up a product in which he has a vested interest—according to the interview, Palm is Elevation’s largest investment, and McNamee spends several days a week there—so you can expect a certain degree of posturing. But it’s a lot of hot air for something that still has no release date and no price, both of which are going to play a bigger part in consumer adoption of the Pre than when the original iPhone customers’ contracts run out.

[via Daring Fireball]

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