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Palm Surges as Pre Goes to Verizon Next

One of the weak links to Palm's (PALM) resurrection story was that it had too much riding on Sprint (S).

Concerns about one weak partner exclusively selling Palm's hotly anticipated Pre touchscreen phone were relieved Thursday when Verizon (VZ - Get Report) said it would start selling the phone in six months.

Speaking to investors Thursday at Barclays Capital 2009 Worldwide Wireless and Wireline Conference Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said the Palm Pre would be among the "steady stream" of new phones coming this year.

A Verizon representative said no date has been determined yet for the Pre's arrival.

Verizon is now the largest wireless telco in the U.S., and considered somewhat of a laggard behind AT&T (T - Get Report) in the smartphone arena. With the help of the popular Apple (AAPL - Get Report) iPhone, AT&T has taken an early lead in the smartphone race.

The addition of Verizon to Palm's telco list more than doubles its Palm Pre sales opportunity. Verizon sells phones to 80 million customers, while Sprint has 50 million users to sell to.

Sprint is already feeling the squeeze, having been just late enough with the June 6 introduction of the Palm Pre to land in the shadow of Apple's expected iPhone unveiling June 8.

Sprint's small window of exclusivity for Palm Pre sales can't help much with its struggles to turn its money- and customer-losing fortunes around.

Palm shares rose 93 cents, or 9%, to $11.46, and is up 273% so far this year on Wall Street's belief that the Pre phone will restore Palm to glory.

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T $32.64 0.00%
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