When Palm launched its Pre smartphone on CES 2009, a lot of questions were put forth, such as the length of exclusive contract with Sprint. Now we know that the exclusive contract was based upon 12+6 month base, but also that "Palm Pre 3" [Pre was "Pre 1", Pixi is codenamed "Pre 2", Pre 3 is well, "Pre 3"] is about to launch.

Palm Pre 3 Launch CES InviteOn Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 11:00AM, Palm will host a press conference where the company will introduce Palm "Pre 3", a next-generation smartphone. The interesting bit is that the launch network is Verizon Wireless and that the hard launch will happen prior to Apple’s introduction of iPhone 4G.

It seems to us that Verizon is doing its best to knock AT&T and Apple off the top spot – first tapping the market with aggressive campaign for Motorola DROID, and now with Pre 3. The goal for Pre 3 is to grab those first generation customers who didn’t sign off their soul to get iPhone 3G and to capture those users that haven’t upgraded to the iPhone.

Furthermore, marketing campaign will be driven to address all the limitations of iPhone in congested areas such as big cities. Does this mean Times Square will be plastered with ads for Verizon-backed Pre? Only time will tell? and that time is drawing near.

As far as we know, Skype will also be a topic at Pre 3 launch, but we have no idea in what way. Could it be that Verizon plans to suggest that Skype is better for voice com than the regular network? After all, Skype is purely digital and actually loads the network less than a voice call.

As a European, it is good to hear that America is finally moving forward with high quality devices and data usage – after all, I am quite used to download about 1-2GB of data each month when I am using my Blackberry 9000 Bold as a GPS – while driving on American interstates, using my $30/month flat-rate data roaming wherever I am in the world, sans Taiwan [Seriously Vodafone / HR VIP, when the heck are you going to sort out bricking on my Blackberry by Vodafone in Taipei?].

Now, the question is how the owners of Palm Pre devices on Sprint network will feel?