Sprint: Defend yourself against Verizon's Palm Pre

In its latest attempt to show some smartphone muscle, Verizon Wireless says it will offer the Palm Pre in early 2010.

In its latest attempt to show some smartphone muscle, Verizon Wireless says it will offer the Palm Pre in early 2010.

The words came from COO Dennis Strigl, and they echo earlier comments from company sources. Last May, CEO Lowell McAdam said the much-hyped Pre smartphone, which combines a touch screen and full keyboard, would cross over from Sprint in six months. Unnamed sources later pegged the release for January of next year.

For its part, Sprint has hoped this issue would go away. CEO Dan Hesse said in May that Verizon execs need to "check their facts," specifying that the Pre would not cross over in six months. Now, the company won't comment on the matter, according to CNet. And I can't find any response to Verizon's claims in which Sprint flexes some muscle of its own.

But, Sprint should be pounding its chest a little -- but not just about the phones it has now.

Congress is readying a crackdown on the exclusive deals between wireless carriers and cell phone makers, so we may soon see the end of carriers luring smartphone buyers for no reason but a lack of options. Verizon has to some extent seen the writing on the wall, agreeing to give up its exclusive phones to small carriers after a six month window.

Now's the time for Sprint (and all wireless carriers) to start proving its worth with more than just exclusive phone deals. More than just touting the strength of its network - which is pretty reliable, we found - Sprint ought to come up with incentives and reasons to stop shedding subscribers and earn new ones. It should keep working on customer service and continue to push on the pricing front.

Verizon has a lot of good will from customers on its side, and it's only a matter of time before the company's smartphone offerings are in line with the competition. Instead of denying that this is going to happen, Sprint should ask the obvious question: "So what?"

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Jared Newman

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