Palm posts $22m Q3 loss, says it liked its chances against Droid had Verizon launch been sooner

Palm gave us a heads-up back in late February that its upcoming earnings report wouldn't exactly be cause for celebration, and today the news has become official: the outfit recorded a net loss of $22 million during its fiscal Q3, which still looks rosy compared to the $98 million loss it suffered this quarter a year ago. All told, the firm shipped 960,000 smartphones in the period, which represents a 23 percent uptick from Q2 2010 and a nearly 300 percent increase compared to this quarter in 2009. Unfortunately, sell-through wasn't exactly stellar, with just 408,000 units changing hands -- that's a 29 percent decline from last quarter and a 15 percent drop year-over-year. We get the impression that it's waiting for carriers to get down to replenishment levels, but it's hard to say when that'll happen. Jon Rubinstein, Palm's chairman and CEO, was obviously not thrilled about the news, but he's mirroring statements made to employees just over a fortnight ago with this quote:

"Our recent underperformance has been very disappointing, but the potential for Palm remains strong. The work we're doing to improve sales is having an impact, we're making great progress on future products, and we're looking forward to upcoming launches with new carrier partners. Most importantly, we have built a unique and highly differentiated platform in webOS, which will provide us with a considerable - and growing - advantage as we move forward."

We're listening into the earnings call right now, and so far we've heard a few choice quotes. Jon mentioned that Palm has "aggressive roadmaps on the software front that we're working on," and that there were "no changes to our planned carrier launches." We'll let you know if he introduces the Pixi 2 or anything.

Update: The call's over. PreCentral points out a choice quote from Rubinstein:

We had an arrangement with Sprint that when we launched with Sprint that they would invest in marketing and carry the product and for that they would get an exclusive for a period of time. That really determined when we could do our launch at Verizon. I agree with your premise that if we could have launched at Verizon earlier, prior to Droid, that we would have gotten the attention that the Droid got and since I believe that we have a better product, I think we would have even done better.

In other words, Palm -- regardless of Verizon's positioning -- feels like the Pre Plus could've been a legitimate contender as a halo phone for the carrier had it been able to launch sooner, though that opportunity has obviously long since passed. We're not so sure we agree that the Droid and the Pre Plus play in quite the same space, but if nothing else, we like the chutzpah -- now it's time to deliver some new hardware.