I don't envy Palm (NASDAQ:PALM) CEO Ed Colligan these days. This is the age of the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone meeting Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Androids, while Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) keeps making its BlackBerrys ever slicker and consumer-friendly. 

Oh, and there's this global economy crunch going on, too. Selling Treos and Centros into that brutal environment can't be easy, or fun. The same goes for owning Palm stock.

So I'm hardly surprised to see that Palm kept its third-quarter report to a bare minimum last night. The company lost $98 million, or $0.89 per share, on sales of $90.6 million. Those are grim figures, punctuated by 42% lower unit smartphone sales year over year. Palm burned through $92.1 million of cash to fuel its operations, and it's down to $219.4 million in cash equivalents.

Palm is already tapping into alternative cash sources to fund its day-to-day business. This quarter included a $103.6 million net take from additional stock sales, which represents roughly 11% of Palm's total market cap today. That cash injection came partially from remarketing shares purchased by Elevation Partners, the private equity firm that already was Palm's largest shareholder.

At this rate, I imagine that Elevation -- where mercurial U2 singer-activist-humanitarian Bono is part of the team -- would run out of patience with the cash burn before too long. We still don't have a release date for the much-hyped Palm Pre -- Mr. Colligan is only talking about a nebulous intention to "deliver this product into the hands of consumers within the next 15 weeks." Neither Palm nor service partner Sprint (NYSE:S) can afford to drag it out much longer.

Will the Pre restore Palm to health, as in the glory days of Palm Pilot PDAs and the early days of the Treo? Maybe. But that Hail Mary of a product launch may be too little, too late. Palm is playing a risky game here. Think it's going to pan out? Let us know in the comments box below. It's fun, free, and takes mere seconds to do.

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