Verizon to Reportedly Get Palm Pre Plus, Pixi Plus

The Verizon Wireless versions of the Palm Pre and Pixi may boast a little extra something, Boy Genius is reporting. Likely to debut soon, the devices are expected to be called the Palm Pre Plus and the Pixi Plus.

The Palm smartphones headed to Verizon Wireless in 2010 won't the same old Pre and Pixi on the Sprint Nextel network. According to reporting from the Boy Genius Report, Verizon will call the former the Palm Pre Plus, and the latter the Palm Pixi Plus.

The tech site says it has learned that the devices will run the recently released WebOS 1.3.5, and not a newer version - indicating, perhaps, that a Verizon announcement is closer than many expected. With the update to 1.3.5, which became available Dec. 28, Palm improved the WebOS user experience, cleared up some glitches and streamlined several capabilities.

The site also reported that while some changes have been made to functionality - thus, the Plus - on the outside, both devices will remain the same. Among the expected updates are that the Pixi will gain WiFi connectivity.

While Sprint has been tight-lipped about the timeline of its exclusive rights to Palm's latest and greatest, Verizon Chief Operating Officer Denny Strigl said during a Verizon quarterly earnings call on July 27 that several Android phones were on the carrier's roadmap, and that Verizon planned "to offer the Palm Pre early next year."

Sprint launched the Pre slider-phone in June to good reviews but relatively modest sales, and followed in November with the Pixi, a candy-bar style phone with a smaller screen but a $99 price tag. Within the week, however, retailers Wal-Mart and dropped the price to $24.99 - a bit of bad luck for Palm, whose offerings were also quickly surrounded by an army of new Android-running smartphones, all competing for consumer attention.

Juniper Research analyst Patrick Fairlie, however, believes Palm's luck is turning around. In a Dec. 24 blog post he pointed to Palm's results for the second quarter of fiscal year 2010, in which the phone-maker shipped 783,000 smartphones - a welcome jump up from the 599,000 it shipped during the second quarter of fiscal year 2009.

"Taking an optimistic view, the company's fortunes may be turning, as ... a tie-up with Verizon Wireless now seems to be on the cards, supplementing the carrier relationship it has with Sprint Nextel," Fairlie wrote in the blog post. "Carrier relationships are, of course, more valuable than gold dust to any handset manufacturer."