Palm, Dell phones set for AT&T debut

The Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus will soon be available on the AT&T network. Meanwhile, a Dell phone called the Aero sails for US shores.

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The Palm Pre, which launched in 2009, was originally billed as an iPhone-killer – or at very least, a smart, innovative phone that could lift Palm's fortunes, and put the company head to head with bigger rivals such as Apple and Research in Motion.

But sales of the Palm Pre and the pint-sized Palm Pixi have sagged, and last month Palm signaled that revenue for the fiscal year ending in May would fall well below the originally forecast $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion.

Today comes news that the Palm smart phone line, currently available only on Sprint and Verizon, will be sold at AT&T stores "in coming months." No word on exact date, but Palm says that the AT&T-powered Palm Pre Plus and Palm Pixi Plus should go for $149.99 and $49.99, respectively, with a two-year voice and data plan and a $100 mail-in rebate.

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At 50 bucks with a contract, the Palm Pixi Plus would be half as much as the cheapest Apple iPhone – a nice price point, any way you slice it.

Palm exec Jon Rubinstein suggested in a press release that the AT&T roll-out would help increase Palm's reach. "AT&T and Palm have a history of smart phone leadership, and today's announcement is a significant milestone for us," Mr. Rubinstein said. "With Palm webOS phones coming to AT&T, Palm can help most anyone in the United States stay connected so they never miss a thing."

In related news, AT&T has announced that it will soon carry the Aero, Dell's first smart phone. The Aero, which runs Google's Android operating system, was unveiled last year; right now, it's available in China and Brazil, but not in the States. The Aero looks a little like the Pre, actually – sort of egg-shaped, with a nice 3.5-inch screen and Flash Lite support. AT&T hasn't set a price for the Aero.

Between this news and last week's announcement of an AT&T-compatible Nexus One, this has been a big month for the carrier. The iPhone now has a lot of competition within its network of choice. Good news for AT&T customers.

We want to hear from you: Did Palm wait too long to bring its smart phones onto the AT&T network? And will Dell have more success with its phones than it has with its computers?

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