LAS VEGAS--As rumored, Palm announced a distribution deal with Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest carrier, as well as upgraded versions of its Pre and Pixi devices that are bound for Verizon's shelves.
The news likely will give Palm a major boost in the United States. Verizon commands close to 90 million subscribers, and added 1.2 million net new customers in its most recent quarter; meanwhile, Sprint, currently the exclusive vendor of Palm products in the U.S., lost a net 500,000 subscribers in its most recent quarter.
Further, AT&T Mobility--the nation's second largest carrier--announced this week that it, too, would carry Palm webOS products in the first half of this year, though it did not provide details.
Verizon will begin selling the Pre Plus and the Pixi Plus starting Jan. 25. The upgraded Pre features an increase in internal memory to 16 GB, and the upgraded Pixi now sports WiFi. Verizon declined to provide pricing information.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Palm's announcement with Verizon was news that the company would offer a downloadable application for its forthcoming Pre Plus and Pixi Plus that would essentially turn them into mobile WiFi hotspots. The app, to be available through Palm's App Catalogue, will allow the devices to broadcast a WiFi signal to up to five other devices, and backhaul the connection through Verizon Wireless' network. Verizon did not provide pricing or details for the service, though it is similar to the carrier's MiFi device from Novatel, service for which starts at $40 per month.
Palm made its announcement during a well-attended press conference as part of the Consumer Electronics Show here. The company also disclosed several other interesting news nuggets:
- SFR in France will soon begin selling its Pre and Pixi devices.
- Palm formally launched its developer program, and opened up its app catalogue database to third parties. The company said the action would allow developers more flexibility in promoting their webOS apps. (See related article here.)
- The company announced its webOS platform can now run 3D games, and showed off 3D titles from the likes of EA Mobile and Gameloft.
- The company said it will push a software update next month that will allow Pre and Pixi users to record and edit video.
- Finally, Palm said it will "soon" offer an upgrade to its Web browser that will allow users to view Flash content.
On closing the event, Palm chief Jon Rubenstein promised: "We will continue to surprise and delight you."
- see these three releases from Palm
Report: Verizon launching Palm Pre, Pixi at CES
Top Palm investor dismisses takeover talk
Palm's smartphone shipments jump 41%, but losses continue
Analysts divided over Palm's prospects