Palm, Sprint Set Palm Pre Pricing

Palm Pre price plans have been confirmed by Sprint, which will offer individual, family and business plans for the smartphone. Palm is betting that the Pre will help the company reverse a dismal multiquarter performance and allow it to compete effectively against the BlackBerry and iPhone.

Sprint Nextel, which has exclusive U.S. rights through the end of 2009 to sell Palm's upcoming Pre touch-screen smartphone, announced its individual, family and business plans for the device.

The Palm Pre is intended to help long-suffering Palm compete against Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone.

Sprint plans on offering individual, family and business plans, with pricing for the individual Everything Data 450, 900 and Unlimited plans starting at $69.99 per month, according to reports.

Business customers will have the option of pairing their minutes. Families will have the option of Everything, 1500, 300 and Simply Everything Family plans. Sprint also cautioned that not all of its existing packages and plans will be available for the Pre, although the company declined to provide further detail.

The Pre will feature both a 3.1-inch multitouch screen and a real keyboard, in addition to Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS and a built-in 3-megapixel camera. Palm has been utilizing the expertise of Jon Rubinstein, who was integral to the development of the iMac and iPod before leaving Apple in 2006, in designing the Pre.

Palm has a lot riding on its new smartphone.

On March 4, the company predicted revenues of somewhere between $85 million and $90 million for third-quarter 2009, a decline from both the third quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2009. In all, Palm has suffered six consecutive quarters of losses, to the tune of over $650 million.

The dip was attributed in equal part to the recession, reduced demand for Palm's older-generation smartphones and delayed U.S. shipment of the new Treo Pro.

A successful launch of the Palm Pre would boost the company's revenue and perhaps even save it from financial ruin. On March 6, major Palm investor Roger McNamee said in an interview with Bloomberg that the Palm Pre would be the "coolest product on the market" and a certain iPhone killer.

In an SEC document dated March 9, Palm seemed to distance itself from McNamee's statement, writing, "The statement in the second paragraph of the article that 'not one' person who bought an Apple, Inc. iPhone on the first shipment date 'will still be using an iPhone a month' after the two-year anniversary of that day is an exaggerated prediction of consumer behavior pattern and is withdrawn."

The Palm Pre is still on track for release in the first half of 2009, but no exact date has been announced.