(David Beard/Globe Staff)
Success! Steve Salmon with his new Palm Pre.
By David Beard, Globe Staff
Tech-obsessed Bostonians lined up at a Sprint store in Boston's Back Bay by 5:30 a.m. Saturday to get their first crack at the new Palm Pre, the most-anticipated cellphone since Apple's iPhone.
But only early birds were able to buy the $299 phone in the store, which came with a $100 rebate. By shortly after 11, all of the 55 phones were sold at the Boylston Street store.
A store employee said there wouldn't be a new shipment until Monday.
Steve Salmon of Cambridge was one of the lucky ones, lining up for one of the last phones, eager to swap it for his heavy Palm 700XW.
"I try to keep up with my kids," said Salmon, a rehab technician from Cambridge. Salmon almost missed his shot because he lined up at 9:15 and the store had opened two hours early at 8.
Another customer, James Groarke of Boston, said the new phone offered everything that he needed. He said he wasn't tempted to buy the trendy iPhone instead.
"I've had no luck with anything Mac, despite its popularity," he said. "I know some of my friends will kill me for saying this."
Sales personnel knew that business would tail off before noon. "Unfortunately," said Ryan Pugh of the Back Bay, who estimated that at one point 40 people were lined up outside the store. Pugh and others said they expected a busy week ahead.
Sprint Nextel Corp. CEO Dan Hesse said Saturday's release of the Pre, which is made by Palm Inc., represents a "coming out party" for Sprint as it seeks to reverse subscriber losses, The Associated Press reported Friday.
Industry analysts also consider the Pre to be Palm Inc.'s best hope for fighting back against Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone. Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Palm needs a boost, as sales of its phones fell 42 percent year-over-year to 482,000 in its December-February quarter, the wire service reported.
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