Palm Pre in Stores, Sprint Gets a Coming Out Party

The Palm Pre - the possible business savior of Palm, and potentially the iPhone's first real competition - is now available for purchase. The Pre's launch is also a big moment for carrier Sprint, which reportedly believes it is a very different company than it was just a year ago.

The long-awaited Palm Pre is officially now available-and will have two whole days to bask in the glow of the world's full attention, before Monday, June 8, arrives and with it the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.
The already popular WWDC, at which Apple is likely to introduce a new iPhone, garnered fresh attention on June 5, when the Financial Times reported that a "junior" iPhone, priced between $99 and $149, and not expected to make a WWDC debut, may in fact appear-along with Steve Jobs, announcing a resumption of his former leadership position.

On June 6, Reuters reported that enthusiastic crowds had gathered by several Sprint stores in major cities with people willing to shell out cash for the new Palm Pre. The report also noted that the crowds were smaller than those seen when a new Apple iPhone had been announced.

But for now, the attention is on the Pre, which is expected to be difficult to get a hold of, with demand exceeding supply.
A few extra bodies may be filling the lines at registers, after reading reviews this week by The New York Times' David Pogue and the Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg, who both reviewed it favorably. Pogue called it "elegant, joyous," and Mossberg wrote it was "thoughtfully designed."
However, both men criticized the lack of applications and said Palm will have to very quickly attract third-party developers-which some insist won't be very hard to do, explaining that the Pre's WebOS operating system uses already familiar technologies, which will enable developers to get to work without delay.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse is also excited for today, calling the Pre launch also "a coming out party" for the new-and-improved Sprint, Reuters reported June 5.
Some critics have expressed doubt about Sprint's ability to help drive the Pre's success. According to Reuters, Hesse told analysts on June 5, "We're a very different company than we were 12 months ago."
The success of the Pre and the future of Palm are currently playing out nationwide in Sprint stores, at certain Wal-Mart locations, and at Radio Shack and Best Buy. At the latter, customers don't have to mail in the rebate, but receive it on site, bringing the price to $199 with a two-year service contract.
A close-up look at the Palm Pre is available here.