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Palm Presents Pre Plan Pricing, Particulars

Sprint and Palm on Thursday offered some more insight into the Palm Pre and what service plans Sprint will offer when the device hits stores this year.

smartphone Palm is hanging its hat on to rescue it from slumping revenues

While Palm and Sprint didn't reveal the exact release date or final pricing for the Palm Pre, Palm's answer to touch-screen titans like the Apple iPhone 3G, the Google Android-based T-Mobile G1 and the BlackBerry Storm from Research In Motion (RIM) Ltd., the companies offered insight into the data and voice plans that will be available when the Pre hits the street in the first half of this year.

David Owens, director of consumer acquisition for Sprint, said Sprint will offer nine different individual, family and business plans for the Palm Pre, all based around Sprint's unlimited data and messaging plan, dubbed Everything Data, or Sprint's all-inclusive Simply Everything plan that ties not only unlimited data and messaging, but also voice.

While not all current Sprint plans will be available for the Pre, Owens said Sprint will offer 450-minute and 900-minute voice plans coupled with an Everything Data plan for $69.99 and $89.99 per month, respectively. Individuals can also choose the $99.99 Simply Everything option.

For family plans, Sprint will offer a $129.99, 1,500 minute plan and a $169.99, 3,000 minute plan with an Everything Data plan, or a modified version of the Simply Everything plan, which runs $189.99 for two lines of unlimited talk and data. And businesses, Sprint said, can pool minutes from an unlimited plan.

Overall, Owens said, a two-year unlimited all-inclusive contract could save Palm Pre users $1,000 compared to competing carriers.

Sprint and Palm are also hoping to entice buyers with the Ready Now assistance program, which gives Pre buyers a one-on-one session with a Pre expert to get a tutorial on their device. Pre buyers can have the session at the time of purchase, or schedule a session for a later date.

Matt Crowley, Palm's product line manager, added that the true capabilities of the Pre are unlocked with Sprint's 3G data network and with Palm's new webOS operating system, which lets users open and work in various applications on the single touch-screen.

According to Crowley, another focal point for the Palm Pre and webOS is Synergy, which draws information from a Pre user's various contact lists, calendars, messaging platforms, social networks and e-mail accounts and presents them on one screen.

In addition, Crowley outlined the Touchstone charging dock for the Pre, a stone-looking slab that requires no connection between the dock and the smartphone for charging. Essentially, a user just rests the device on top of the slanted-surfaced dock and it charges. While the device is charging, users can still use the touch-screen, watch movies and video and use the speakerphone for conversations.

The Palm Pre, one of a host of mobile devices unveiled this year at CES 2009 in Las Vegas, is a small and slick smartphone with rounded edges, a form-factor Crowley said was inspired by a "polished river stone."

The 3G device features a 3.1-inch 320-by-480 resolution touch-screen with a full slideout QWERTY keyboard. The device, which will be exclusive to Sprint, also ties in Wi-Fi, GPS, 8 GB of internal storage and a micro USB port for additional memory. The Pre also features a 3.0 megapixel camera with LED flash. The Pre measures 2.35 by 3.96 by 0.67 inches and weighs in at 4.76 ounces. It also ties in three sensors, like an accelerometer, a proximity sensor and ambient lighting sensor.

Palm hopes the Pre will pull it out of a recent revenue slump. Palm expects to report fiscal third-quarter revenue of between $85 million and $90 million, a massive drop from the $312.1 million in revenue it reported in the third quarter of 2008 and the $191.6 million it reported in 2009's second fiscal quarter.

"The much-anticipated launch of the Palm Pre remains on track for the first half of the calendar year 2009, but as expected we've got a difficult transition period to work through," said Palm President and CEO Ed Colligan in a statement. "Despite the challenging market environment, the extraordinary response to the Palm Pre and the new Palm webOS reaffirms our confidence in our long-term prospects and our ability to re-establish Palm as the leading innovator in the growing smartphone market."

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