McAdam: Verizon to sell Palm Pre, Android phones

Verizon Wireless will begin selling the Palm Pre and Research In Motion's BlackBerry Storm 2 within the next six months, the carrier's chief executive said, according to a Reuters report. According to a separate Associated Press report, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam also said the carrier will sell phones running on Google's Android platform "in the near future." Investment banking firm UBS said in a note that Verizon would sell Android phones from the likes of Motorola.

"Over the next six months or so you will see devices like Palm Pre and a second generation Storm," on Verizon's network, McAdam said.

McAdam also referred to a previously unheard of Palm device, a "cousin" to the Pre. Speculation has mounted that Palm will release several successors to the Pre running on its webOS platform.

Sprint Nextel's shares fell after the announcement; Sprint is the exclusive carrier for the Pre through 2009, according to a Sprint spokesman quoted by Dow Jones Newswires. Sprint will launch the device June 6 and is hoping the device will help draw customers and buzz.  

McAdam's comments follow those of AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who said that AT&T Mobility would look to launch the Palm Pre following the conclusion of Palm's exclusive agreement with Sprint.

"Would I like to see Palm Pre on our network? Of course." Stephenson said, speaking at the D: All Things Digital conference hosted by The Wall Street Journal. "We want a broad selection of devices."

The Verizon news serves to highlight the increasingly competitive market for exclusive handsets. Indeed, such devices can represent significant bragging rights, as shown by AT&T's continued success with its exclusive iPhone deal. However, even that exclusive offering could face pressure; recent market speculation points to Apple working on iPhone-like devices for Verizon Wireless, a move that presumably wouldn't affect Apple's deal with AT&T.

Palm's apparent move to expand distribution for its Pre mirrors its strategy with its line of Treo and Centro devices, which arrived at various carriers at different times. Indeed, Maynard Um with UBS wrote that "we believe other Palm webOS-based devices aside from the Pre are planned as well that could show up on other networks."

Also notable is Verizon Wireless' move on the Android front. The carrier has remained relatively silent on Android while carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile USA appear to be gearing up their Android efforts. Nonetheless, Motorola has promised a range of Android devices by the end of the year, and a distribution deal through the nation's largest carrier would surely help the handset maker its its turnaround gambit.

Amid all the Pre and Android hype, UBS' Um did point out that the firm believes Verizon Wireless will remain a supporter of Research In Motion's BlackBerry. Indeed, Verizon said it will launch an "upscale" BlackBerry called the Tour. Verizon's "BlackBerry BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free) promotion has been ongoing since February and we believe BlackBerry Tour will be one of VZW's key handsets when launched," Um wrote in a note to investors.

For more:

- see this Reuters article
- see this AP article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article

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