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Sprint to keep Palm Pre for more than six months

Sprint's CEO stated today that despite the comments coming from Verizon Wireless, his company's exclusive rights to sell the Palm Pre will extend longer than six months.

At this morning's Palm Pre launch event, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse told CNET that Verizon was wrong to claim that it would be able to sell the new model in just six months.

"They need to check their facts," Hesse said. "That just is not the case. Both Palm and Sprint have agreed not to discuss the length of the exclusivity deal. But I can tell you it's not six months."

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam reportedly said that consumers could expect to see devices "like the Palm Pre and a second-generation Storm" on the company's network, words that were converted into a rumor that insisted the Palm Pre would show up after just six months of exclusivity on Sprint. That rumor resulted in a dramatic surge in Palm's stock.

Both Sprint and Verizon are desperate to find a popular phone that can compete for new customers in the way the iPhone has for AT&T. Nearly every leading new phone model has debuted as exclusive to a single provider in the US, although the iPhone's partnership with AT&T has been kept exclusive for much longer. AT&T has itself expressed interest in carrying the Pre or other WebOS-based devices from Palm.

Verizon's headlining Blackberry Storm from RIM has proven to be a disappointing challenger to the iPhone, but Sprint's Pre has been getting mostly favorable reviews. Still, Sprint has warned that the Pre won't generate the same excited theatrics as the iPhone did when it first went on sale.

Sprint spokesman Mark Elliott not only said the company did not expect long lines for the Pre at its 1,100 stores, but also claimed that it didn’t want to experience an iPhone-like frenzy. “We’re actually trying to manage the exact opposite,” Elliott said.