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Welcome back, Palm

After struggling to keep up with the competition, it looks like Palm is back in the smartphone game.

Corinne Schulze/CNET

This weekend will be a big one for Palm and Sprint. The Palm Pre goes on sale Saturday and while it may be a while until we see specific numbers in terms of units sold, I think one thing's apparent: Palm is back.

The story's been told many times before. Palm, who enjoyed much success early on with its Treo series, fell from grace after it failed to deliver new, exciting products. In August 2007, Engadget wrote an open letter to Palm, calling for an intervention after the company turned from "respected underdog and innovator to repeat offender in stale gear" and pointed out key areas where the company needed to step up its game.

To their surprise, Palm's CEO Ed Colligan responded and said, "Although I can't say I agree with every point, many are right on. We are attacking almost every challenge you noted, so stay tuned. Let's remember that it is very early in the evolution of the smartphone and there is enormous opportunity for us to innovate. We have only just begun to fight."

And fight they did. It took a little while to get here, but Palm answered almost every one of the challenges with the Pre and its webOS. The hardware, while far from perfect, does bring a number of improvements, including a smaller chassis and higher-resolution display. Yet, as we've all read about, it's the Palm webOS that's the true shining star. Not only did Palm develop an operating system that rivals the others in functionality, but it also goes a step beyond and offers something more in its multitasking abilities, notifications system, and integration of information. Now it's on the competitors to catch up with Palm in those areas, and at the end of the day, this only means good news for us as consumers as we'll get more choice and more capable devices.

Palm's built a solid foundation for future devices but we hope and believe that the company will continue to push the envelope. For now, though, we'll just say well done and welcome back.

Now, the bigger question is how will the Palm Pre affect Sprint?