So the launch of the Palm Pre is June 6th – and the scene is all set for what is likely to be an exciting summer for the smartphone industry.

Those joining Palm in announcing new – or updated handsets – over the next few months are Apple with an upgraded iPhone and new phones using the Android operating system from Google.

The launch season has already begun in the US, with T-Mobile announcing the introduction of the Sidekick LX, while AT& T unveiled the Samsung Jack.

But the peak time is the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day – a spell that will be a crucial one for the industry in the US, according to the New York Times.

How the Pre fares is certain to determine the future of loss-making Palm.

It is a little surprising, then, to hear that Dan Hesse, Palm’s CEO says he expects a shortage of Pre handsets at launch.

If true, it will certainly lead to headline-making lines forming outside of stores on June 6th.

But even if it is a sales tactic, it’s a risky one for a company in Palm’s financial situation.

The stakes are also high for Sprint Nextel, which has exclusive rights to the Pre in the United States.

Striking a positive note, the NYT comments that with only 100 million smartphones out of the four billion mobile devices in the world, the market is capable of sustaining more than one succesful handset.

The summer launches will add spice to the general mood of optimism within the smartphone industry.

Lee Williams, chief of the Symbian Foundation, has predicted smartphone sales will grow 12-15 per cent in 2009, while Marvell Technology Group’s chief executive Sehat Sutardja reckons smartphones will soon make up 50 per cent of the mobile market.

And the latest figures for smartphone sales suggest demand in unflagging.

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