Palm's 'Pre-Pre' Results; HTC 'Sense' Makes Android Sexier

Palm announced fiscal Q4 and FY 2009 results today. New Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein said that the Pre's sales were "strong and growing." No specifics were provided but Dow Jones newswires cites analysts who estimate 100K sales in June and 200K in August. Here are the "Pre-Pre" Results for Q4 and FY 2009:

Total revenues in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2009, ended May 29, 2009, were $86.8 million. Gross profit was $20.1 million and gross margin was 23.1 percent . . . The company shipped a total of 351,000 smartphone units during the quarter, representing a 6 percent increase from the third quarter of fiscal year 2009 and a year-over-year decline of 62 percent. Smartphone sell-through for the quarter was 460,000 units, down 5 percent vs. the third quarter of fiscal year 2009 and down 52 percent year-over-year . . .

Total revenues for the full fiscal year 2009 were $735.9 million. Gross profit for fiscal year 2009 was $159.8 million and gross margin was 21.7 percent. The company shipped a total of 2,407,000 smartphone units during the year, representing a 25 percent decline vs. the prior year. Smartphone sell-through for the full year was 2,570,000 units, down 19 percent year-over-year.

Over at HTC, which seems to be rolling out a new device every week, the new "Sense" UI for Android (and soon Windows Mobile) is getting a lot of positive early coverage. The new HTC Hero, the first handset to feature Sense, marks the third Android device in the market for the OEM. But even before the much hyped Android HTC myTouch 3G arrives in the US (Vodafone Magic in the UK) it's already seemingly been superseded by the Hero.

In this video interview with the Financial Times, HTC CEO Peter Chou dances around the direct question of which OS is better Android or WinMo. He argues (rightly) that both can co-exist and appeal to different segments. But HTC is apparently standardizing its Sense UI across devices so that at the highest level future Android and WinMo phones will closely resemble one another. 

The Sense UI in a way puts the emphasis back on hardware, as more OEMs (i.e., Samsung and Motorola) plan to roll out Android phones later in the year. When there are 18 or 20 Android devices in the market, the handset's features and propertiary software layers (e.g., Sense) will matter again. Within the HTC lineup, if the WinMo and Android phones both get Sense and are otherwise almost identical from a hardware standpoint, what will differentiate them? I could formulate a list but those items probably won't be immediately obvious to consumers. On one level that makes the case for a branded Microsoft or Zune phone. 

Here's a video demo of the Hero

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In the UK the Hero will be called the G1 Touch by T-Mobile but will also be carried by Orange. Vodafone has the Magic/G2.