iPhone Rains on Palm Pre’s Search Parade

July 22, 2009

Though a digital ad campaign for the new Palm Pre smartphone appears to have reached target consumer segments and generated early interest for the new device in May and early June, online searches for the Pre declined significantly after Apple’s new 3G iPhone was announced on June 17, according to a comScore analysis of recent online trends related to the Pre’s June 6 debut.

Trends in Pre Search Buzz

Trends in the number of weekly searchers on terms relating to the Palm Pre suggest that Sprint’s “Now Network” ad campaign conducted by Sprint during the second half of May helped generate early interest in the device. The number of searchers more than doubled during the week ending May 24, coinciding with a YouTube homepage takeover that featured a human clock and a mashup of user-generated videos.

Interest declined somewhat during the following week, but rebounded in the two subsequent weeks after the official launch of the device, hitting 267,000 searchers for the week ending June 7 and 361,000 searchers for the week ending June 14, comScore said.

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The final two weeks in June – after the new iPhone 3GS was announced, the number of Palm Pre searchers fall to approximately half the number of the peak week of activity.

Despite this dropoff, the comScore suggests that the Pre – which represents Palm’s last-gasp effort to remain competitive in the smartphone market – appears to resonate with a different audience than those interested in the iPhone. Of the people who searched for Palm Pre-related terms during the eight weeks of the study, just 11% also searched on iPhone-related terms, suggesting that the majority of the those interested in the Pre have less interest in the iPhone.

iPhone Searches Hold Steady

Throughout May and the first week of June, comScore found that the number of unique iPhone searchers remained fairly consistent at approximately one-million people per week. In the week prior to the launch of the 3GS, however, the number of iPhone searchers more than doubled to 2.3 million people during the week of the launch.

Visits to Online Stores
comScore also analyzed traffic to both AT&T’s and Sprint’s online store locators, which the firm said can yield more clues about purchase intent.

The launches of the iPhone and Palm Pre devices increased traffic to both ATT.com and Sprint.com store locators:

  • The week the Pre launched, Sprint.com experienced a 42% increase to 137,000 visitors to its online store locator page, followed by a 41% jump to 193,000 visitors the subsequent week.
  • The AT&T find-a-store feature on Wireless.ATT.com, saw traffic jump 90% to 295,000 visitors during the week of the iPhone 3GS launch.

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