Verizon Wireless will begin selling the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus--the carrier's first devices running Palm's webOS platform--on Monday for the same price that Sprint Nextel sells the Pre and Pixi. The Pre Plus will go for $149.99 and the Pixi Plus will go for $99.99, each with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate. Verizon also is offering a Pixi Plus for free after a mail-in rebate with the purchase of another Palm device, through Feb. 14.
Perhaps the most notable difference between Verizon's webOS devices and Sprint's is that Verizon's two smartphones will support a downloadable application that turns them into mobile WiFi hotspots, thereby allowing customers to connect up to five WiFi-capable devices to Verizon's network. The service will cost $40 per month for 5 GB and 5 cents per megabyte overage, in addition to monthly service costs. The pricing is in line with the carrier's MiFi device from Novatel, service for which also starts at $40 per month.
Aside from the hotspot service, the Pixi Plus features the addition of WiFi and the Pre Plus has double the internal memory, from 8 GB to 16 GB.
The launch for Palm represents a dramatic broadening of its possible customer base. For nearly a year Sprint Nextel has been the exclusive carrier of Palm devices in the United States. And that situation appears to have been a drag on Palm. In its fiscal second quarter, Palm's smartphone sell-through--how many devices consumers actually bought--fell 29 percent from the previous quarter and 4 percent year-over-year.
Separately, AT&T Mobility also announced will launch exclusive webOS devices later this year, though the carrier did not provide any further information.
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