Once their current wireless contracts are up, each and every iPhone owner will switch to the Palm Pre. Or so says the ever-entertaining top-secret Wikicult sugar-daddy Roger McNamee.
McNamee's U2-powered private equity firm, Elevation Partners, owns 39 per cent of a certain non-Apple handheld-device company.
Bloomberg recently quoted McNamee as saying: "June 29, 2009 is the two-year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone. Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later."
His reasoning? "If you bought the first iPhone, you bought it because you wanted the coolest product on the market. Your two-year contract has just expired. Look around. Tell me what they’re going to buy."
Odds are, Steve Jobs is not quaking, angst-ridden, in his secure undisclosed location. Last December, Elevation Partners invested a cool $100m (£71m) to increase its Palm-investment ante from 25 to 39 per cent. Then, on Wednesday, after Palm missed analysts' sales estimates and reported its sixth straight money-losing quarter, Standard & Poors lowered the company's investment rating from CCC+ to CCC. That's eight levels below what it regards as investment-grade.
Incidentally, this is the same Roger McNamee who secretly pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the not-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation in an effort to turn Wikipedia into a moneymaker. It's a bizarre tale. At one point, U2 front-man Bono personally wooed Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales on the roof of a five-star Mexican hotel. And the last chapter has McNamee joining the Wikimedia advisory board.
And now, McNamee is not only drinking the Palm-flavored Kool-Aid, he's distributing it by the bucketful. Although the Palm Pre - on paper, at least - looks like a fine phone, it could be headed for a legal showdown with Apple (although Palm insists it's unfazed by Cupertino's implied threats).
To be sure, the Pre may one day carve out a tasty chunk of the smartphone market, especially if it can avoid the launch glitches that plagued RIM's own savior-phone, the BlackBerry Storm.
But to imply that the mere appearance of the Pre will incite a stampede of each and every iPhone fan into Palm's arms seems a stretch. Of course, on July 29, we'll know one way or the other. ®