Who Makes the Decision to Carry a Smartphone?

With the recent revelation that Verizon is apparently going to carry the Palm Pre 2, some folks in the webOS community are wondering if Sprint will get it, as well. That’s a valid question, and so far we have no idea one way or another.

However, as some people anticipate (perhaps prematurely) that Sprint may not carry the latest webOS device, they’re assuming that the decision is necessarily being made HP/Palm. I think that’s a mistake.

Simply put, the decision on whether or not a given carrier will support a given smartphone is a combination of many factors. A manufacturer might grant an exclusive to a carrier for some period of time, as Palm did with the original Pre, or they it may release a device (or variations of it) on many carriers at once, as Samsung is doing with the Galaxy S line of Android devices. There are many reasons why a company might choose to go with one scenario or another, including commitments from the carrier to market a device if granted an exclusive and the manufacturer’s ability to supply enough units to meet demand. It’s just not a simple or straightforward decision.

At the same time, a carrier can decide to offer a given smartphone, or they can pass on it, also for a variety of reasons. If they do pass, the reason might be that other devices are already slated for release during the same timeframe, the new smartphone might lack some feature (e.g., 4G in Sprint’s case) that the carrier wants to highlight, or some other factor might come into play. That, too, is neither a simple nor a straightforward decision.

For myself, if the Pre 2 doesn’t show up on Sprint I won’t be jumping to the conclusion that it was HP/Palm’s decision. Simply put, I could probably think of more reasons why Sprint would decide not to carry the new device than I can for why HP/Palm would decide not to sell it to Sprint. As we’ve seen, HP isn’t shy about pushing the existing product line on their own Web site through every carrier that carries it—why should we assume that they’d suddenly give an exclusive to Verizon?

HP certainly has more clout than Palm did when the latter signed the exclusive with Sprint, and HP has more money to market it themselves. And I have to imagine that HP could bring enough manufacturing capacity to bear to ensure the ability to meet whatever demand is generated. Therefore, signing an exclusive with Verizon would seem to make little sense, at least as far as I can think of.

What do you think? If Sprint doesn’t carry the Pre 2, who are you going to blame? And if you’re willing to consider that it might be Sprint’s decision not to carry it, would you be willing—or even inclined—to join a campaign to convince them otherwise? Such decisions can be changed, after all.

Let me know in the comments.


  1. If Sprint doesn’t carry it, I’m all about a campaign to bring it. For the short term. I came to Sprint for the Pre. I’ll leave them for Palm too.

  2. Ditto. Especially with Verizon pricing coming down lately.

  3. i will definitely join a campaign to bring it. and leaving Sprint would definitely be an option.

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