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Fanbois will abandon iPhone for Palm, says Wikisugardaddy

Predicts July death for Jobsian status symbol

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. ®

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