Palm, Sprint provide few new details on the Pre

Webcast designed to showcase the Pre offers virtually no new information on Palm's forthcoming smartphone, especially when regarding its price and launch date.

The world knows Palm's Pre is cool; but where are the details? Corrine Schulze/CNET

Palm and Sprint hosted a Webcast Thursday to discuss the upcoming launch of the Palm Pre, but they didn't say much beyond what's already known about Palm's comeback hope.

The partners did confirm that Sprint's "Everything" individual and family plans will be available for the Pre, but did not shed any light on the two most anticipated details about the Pre: when it will get here, and how much it will cost. Palm would only reiterate that it expects to launch the Pre in the first half of the year, setting it up for a likely collision with Apple's iPhone 3.0 software, which Apple plans to preview next week.

We learned a few small things: Palm and Sprint are definitely measuring themselves against the iPhone, with Palm's Matt Crowley and Sprint's David Owens pointing out rather snarkily that the Pre comes with a user-replaceable battery, among other subtle digs at Apple. And Palm seems to be planning to mimic Apple's early approach to iPhone development, allowing developers to build light Web-based "casual games" on webOS 1.0 but hinting that future versions of the operating system would be more robust.

Otherwise, Palm and Sprint executives spent most of the Webcast talking about how excited they are to be working with each other, which makes sense since both companies could use a boost. Two of the "key takeaways" helpfully provided by the companies at the end of their slide presentation were the Sprint marketing slogans "Simply Everything" and "Ready Now."

It's unclear why Palm and Sprint are still hesitant to talk about the Pre's price; it's understandable that they may not want to commit to a specific launch date just yet, but surely they've got some idea of what this thing is going to cost?

When Apple unveiled the iPhone, it got most of those details out of the way up front and then basically kept quiet until a television commercial onslaught in June. Palm is following a similar track in terms of the Pre's rollout (January announcement, expectations for a June launch), but by continuing to remind people that the Pre is cool (few people disagree on that notion) without revealing any of the important details, Palm is leaving room for skeptics to wonder if the Pre actually is far from finished.

If Palm launches the Pre on time and with a competitive price, it won't matter. Still, with a chance to steal some buzz away from Apple's iPhone 3.0 event next week, it's hard to see what Palm and Sprint accomplished on Thursday.

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