Hesse: Pre launch is 'coming-out party' for Sprint

NEW YORK--At the official launch event of the Palm Pre here this morning, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse said the commercial launch tomorrow of the much-hyped device would be a "coming-out party for the new Sprint."

During the event at the Roosevelt Hotel, Hesse touted the Pre as a device that could capture both general consumers and business users. He also praised Sprint's continued improvement in customer care. "We're a very, very different company than we were 12 months ago," Hesse said, noting that the carrier's iDEN and CDMA networks are performing at their best-ever levels.

In an interview with FierceWireless, Sprint VP of Marketing Tim Donahue said the carrier would tout the Pre's user interface as well as the value of Sprint's Simply Everything plan to maintain momentum after the gadget's launch. He also said that there are application developers waiting in the wings to work with webOS, and said the fact that older Palm applications can be converted to work with webOS will help fuel the growth in the number of applications offered from the Palm Pre.

Donahue said that while the Pre is "an important ingredient, it's not the end-all be-all" of Sprint's CDMA strategy. "It creates excitement, and it creates credibility. You want to be known for innovation, and you don't have to innovate every month, but you need to have those periods of innovation. This creates a period of innovation for us, and a lot of buzz. But it's an element."

In other Palm Pre news, Sprint representatives at the event called inaccurate reports that Verizon Wireless will be selling the Palm Pre within the next six months. In an interview with CNET, Hesse said, "They need to check their facts," referring to Verizon. "That just is not the case. Both Palm and Sprint have agreed not to discuss the length of the exclusivity deal. But I can tell you it's not six months."

According to a Reuters report last week, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said that in the next six months or so consumers will see devices like Palm Pre and a second generation BlackBerry Storm on Verizon's network. Sprint has maintained that it has exclusive rights to sell the Pre in the United States at least through 2009.

For more:
- see this CNET article
- see this hands-on Pre slideshow

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