) --


( PALM) Pre will invade Europe on Oct. 16 and will hit the U.K. for free with a contract.

The premier Palm device, which sells for $149 at


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with a two-year plan, will be available next month at


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U.K. wireless unit O2 for free.

The move should help boost Palm's sluggish Pre sales, which have


under the watch of Sprint, Palm's exclusive partner in the U.S.

Palm Pre Free at O2 in the U.K.

O2 has an exclusive agreement to sell the Palm Pre in the U.K. and Germany. O2 subsidizes the entire cost of the phone to U.K. customers who commit to two-year contracts. The monthly service charge is $71.30 or $1,711 for the life of the contract.

In Germany, the Palm Pre has a sticker price of $700 without a contract, but subscribers who sign on for two years will pay $73 for the phone.

Free premium phones aren't exactly new overseas. The U.K.'s O2 offers the new


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iPhone 3GS for free with its top-tier plans.

Still, for investors, Palm needs to get beyond one phone with one carrier to earn its tremendous stock runup.


Written by Scott Moritz in New York.