LAS VEGAS — Palm Inc. said Thursday that two upgraded versions its Pre and Pixi smartphones will come to Verizon Wireless on Jan. 25.
The announcement at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas brings more smart phone choices to Verizon Wireless customers. However, the carrier is throwing its weight behind smartphones running Google Inc.'s Android software, positioning those as its main alternative to AT&T Inc.'s iPhone.
Palm and Verizon didn't say what the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus will cost. They will have more memory and a simplified interface compared with the original Pre and Pixi, which went on sale through Sprint Nextel Corp. last year. In addition, the Pixi Plus will have Wi-Fi access, which the current Pixi lacks.
Verizon Wireless had said before that it would adopt phones running Palm's new webOS software, but did not say when.
AT&T said Wednesday it would start carrying phones running webOS in the first half of this year.
Also Thursday, Palm said the Pre and Pixi will be available in France for the first time, with carrier SFR in the second quarter. It's already available in Spain, Germany, Britain, Ireland, Mexico and Canada.
In February, Palm plans to send out a free software upgrade for existing webOS phones that will enable video recording and improve battery performance, the company said.
Palm, a pioneer in smartphones based in Sunnyvale, Calif., has been struggling for years against Apple Inc.'s iPhones and Research in Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerrys. Technology-wise the webOS-based phones are a fresh start for the company, one that analysts say represents a make-or-break opportunity.
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