Palm’s new CEO Jon Rubinstein believes there is sufficient growth in the smartphone market to profitably sustain "three to five players".

He was speaking after announcing "strong and growing" sales of the company’s new Pre handset – with download applications now numbering more than 1 million three weeks after it launched.

What Rubinstein didn’t reveal in unveiling Palm’s fourth quarter results – its last full quarter before releasing the phone – is how many Pre smartphones have actually been sold.

Analysts estimate Palm has shipped about 150,000 units so far.

Palm posted a narrower-than-expected fiscal fourth quarter net loss applicable to common shareholders of USD $105 million, compared with a loss of USD $43.4 million in the year-ago period.

Palm said it could turn cash-flow positive in the second half of fiscal 2010 and reassured analysts that its capital position was sufficient.

Revenue fell 71 per cent to USD $86.8 million.

However, despite increased losses and falling revenues, Rubenstein said he was happy with the way the Pre launch had gone.

While there have been problems with meeting demand at Sprint stores in the US, he said this is being addressed.

"We’re successfully ramping supply to meet demand that is strong and growing," he said.

The Pre, featuring Palm’s new WebOS, is entering a smartphone market full of competitors, from Nokia and RIM to HTC.

A new iPhone 3GS launched last Friday and sold more than a million units in the first three days.

However, Rubenstein said the "significant growth" forecast for the smartphone industry meant there is room for up to five smartphone manufacturers.

"We don’t have to beat each other to prosper," he added

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