Sprint Nextel Monday confirmed that the Palm Pixi -- a smaller, cheaper baby sister to Palm's Pre smartphone -- will be available starting Nov. 15. The Palm Pixi will cost $99.99 after a $50 instant rebate, $100 mail-in rebate and two-year lock-in, and according to Sprint will be available online, at Sprint stores, and at Best Buy, RadioShack and some Wal-Mart stores.
The Pixi arrives on the heels of the four-month-old Palm Pre, which has helped stabilize Palm's slumping smartphone fortunes already, even if it hasn't yet proven the home run smartphone that Palm -- and Sprint -- have needed. The Pixi, at $100, will mean a less expensive alternative to Pre and is a key smartphone launch for both Palm and Sprint among a crowded, supercompetitive smartphone marketplace this fall.
"Simply put, this phone is fun and easy to use; with its multitouch screen and full QWERTY keyboard, it's a great device for messaging and social networking at a price everyone can enjoy, and delivers so many of the great features people love about Palm Pre in a fantastic new form factor, making it a huge hit for consumers," said Kevin Packingham, Sprint's senior vice president of product development, in a statement.
The Palm Pixi sports a full keyboard, a 2.63-inch multitouch display, a GPS, a 2-megapixel camera and Palm Synergy, a tool that aggregates multiple social networking feeds into one feed. Synergy is a key feature of the webOS platform Palm already uses for Pre, and like that phone, the Pixi supports a number of social networking tools, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, LinkedIn and Yahoo, plus calendar and instant messaging.
With all those features, the cheap price and the smaller form factor, the phone seems more geared to consumer smartphone consumption than business use. But the Pixi also increases the market penetration of Palm's webOS platform, for which Palm recently updated the guidelines of its WebOS app development program, actively encouraging open-source app development.
At the time of its announcement in early September, Palm's Pixi failed to generate much enthusiasm among smartphone analysts, who worried the Pixi would cannibalize interest in the Palm Pre because the two phones are so much alike. Palm is throwing all of its smartphone might behind both Pixi and the Pre, the latter of which recently saw its price lowered to $150.
Sprint, which is the exclusive carrier for both Pre and Pixi, has a number of dogs in the fall smartphone fight. Besides Palm's phones, it recently launched the HTC Hero, Sprint's first smartphone based on the ever-more-popular Google Android platform, and has a second Android phone, the Samsung Moment, on the way.