11:49 AM

Palm Pre Hits The Street June 6

The highly anticipated smartphone will cost $200, but its launch could be overshadowed by an Apple iPhone announcement just days later.

Palm's Pre smartphone runs on webOS
(click for image gallery)

Those coveting the Palm Pre won't have to wait much longer, as the smartphone will be available June 6 for about $200 with a new two-year contract from Sprint.

Once the undisputed U.S. leader of the smartphone market, Palm has been thoroughly outpaced by the likes of Apple and Research In Motion. The Pre, which was introduced at January's Consumer Electronics Show, was well-received by the press, and Palm is looking to use it as a springboard for a comeback.

With a large capacitive touch screen, Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS, 8 GB of storage, and Bluetooth, the Pre stacks up well against rivals like the iPhone 3G, BlackBerry Storm, and T-Mobile (Android) G1. One of the most appealing features of the Pre is webOS, the operating system that combines a variety of online services into a finger-friendly user interface.

"The argument that you need one phone for work and another phone for play, or that you have to make compromises between business and lifestyle productivity, is over," Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said in a statement. "With Pre, compromises of the past are history."

Sprint will be the exclusive provider of the handset, and users will have to purchase a monthly data plan to activate the Pre. Palm also will launch the Touchstone charging kit June 6. This puck-sized device can charge the handset wirelessly. The Touchstone charging kit will be sold for $69.99.

The Pre's release date could be a gamble, though, as it comes two days before Apple's keynote address at its Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple said it would discuss the upcoming iPhone 3.0 software and the next version of Mac OS X, but many industry watchers are expecting the company to announce some new iPhone hardware as well.

Smartphones are becoming increasingly capable of using enterprise-grade applications on the go, and they could ultimately be replacements for laptops. InformationWeek examined this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).

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