Verizon Sets Palm Pre, Pixi Plus Pricing

Verizon will begin offering the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus on Jan. 25 for $149.99 and $99.99, respectively. Through Valentine's Day, Pre Plus and Pixi Plus purchasers will receive a free Pixi Plus to pass to friends or family.

Verizon Wireless announced that the Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus will be on store shelves Jan. 25, and additionally shared pricing for the smartphones. With two-year contracts, the Pre Plus will run $149.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, and the Pixi Plus will cost $99.99, also after a $100 rebate.

(Days after the November arrival of the Palm Pixi, which doesn't include WiFi connectivity, like the Pixi Plus does, retailers such as dropped the handset's price to $24.99.)

In keeping with the notion of Plus, anyone who purchases a Pre Plus or Pixi Plus through Feb. 14 will receive a free Pixi Plus from Verizon, again after a mail-in rebate.

While the Palm Pre premiered on the Sprint network in June 2009, positioned as an enterprise-worthy device, Verizon is marketing it more as a family-friendly phone, calling it a "perfect tool for the family manger." The Pixi, then, is geared toward the kiddies.

Both smartphones come with built-in 3G Mobile Hotspot connectivity - which may be shared by five WiFi capable devices, such as notebooks and MP3 players.

They can also be paired with Verizon's new Nationwide Talk plans, beginning at $39.99 a month, or Nationwide Talk & Text plans, beginning at $59.99, as well as a monthly data plans for $29.99.

Both phones are of course compatible with the Palm Touchstone charger, and to customize those Pixi Plus phones for the kids, Verizon is offering Touchstone Back Covers in pink, blue, green, orange and black for $29.99 each.

While the Palm Pre was well-reviewed, and its WebOS is said to be among the best interfaces around, analysts say the device's sales have been hurt by the lack of applications in Palm's App Catalog. Its new alliance with Verizon, however, is expected to help boost sales.

"Getting access to Verizon's pool of customers and its marketing strength is going to help Palm out, though now they'll be competing with devices like the Motorola Droid," analyst Ken Hyers, with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK, in response to the news that Verizon would offer the Palm devices.

"From Palm's perspective, Verizon is a very good operator to be with, so I think it will help them out. But substantially?" Hyers added. "I'm not so sure."