Palm Pre to Launch on June 6 at $199

Palm announced Tuesday that it's launching its Palm Pre smart phone in the United States through Sprint on June 6. The device, which is widely expected to compete effectively with Apple's popular iPhone, will sell for $199 after a $100 mail-in rebate, roughly matching the price of the iPhone.

"The argument that you need one phone for work and another phone for play, or that you have to make compromises between business and lifestyle productivity, is over," says Sprint President and CEO Dan Hesse. "With Pre, compromises of the past are history."

The Palm Pre is, perhaps, Palm's last hope to reenter a market that it arguably created with the original Palm Pilot over a decade ago. In recent years, competitors such as Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Research in Motion (RIM), and others have surged ahead of Palm while the Palm OS stagnated. With the Palm Pre and its WebOS engine, Palm is seeking to stem several years of setbacks.

The Pre might just have what it takes to counter the iPhone. Early reviewers are universally positive, with many touting the unit's combination of a touch screen and a physical keyboard; it doesn't rely solely on a virtual keyboard, as the iPhone does. The Pre also does a better job of multitasking than the iPhone and allegedly comes with a superior web browser.

Of course, power comes with a price. As with other smart phones, customers will need to sign up for a two-year contract to qualify for the $199 entry price. And those plans, like those for the iPhone, are very expensive, starting at about $99 per month. Sprint says that this plan is roughly comparable to a $150-per-month iPhone plan, although it should be noted that iPhone plans start at about $70.

The Palm Pre will be exclusive to Sprint for the foreseeable future and will be sold through Sprint locations nationwide, as well as at Best Buy, Radio Shack, and select Wal-Mart stores.

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