Sprint has an exclusive deal to sell the handsets in the US, and said that the Pre is the fastest selling phone in its history.
"Palm Pre is the coming out party for the new Sprint. It is the perfect device that highlights all of the positive changes in our company," said Dan Hesse, president and chief executive at Sprint.
There were few queues for the new phone in San Francisco, but retail outlets said that sales had been brisk, and that the feedback from customers was overwhelmingly positive.
There were queues reported in Orlando, and some shops in the Washington DC area had sold out of the handsets, although this has been blamed by some on low inventory levels.
Theodore Travis, the 14th person in line to get the handset at an outlet in Atlanta, left the queue at 7.45am to get married at 8am, before returning to the store to pick up his handset.
"You did what?" said the new Mrs Travis when asked for her reaction to her husband's behaviour. "I guess I kind of understand now."
Feedback has generally been positive from press and analysts. "I've been playing with the Palm Pre for about a day now, and it is an impressive phone," said Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group.
"In many ways, it is as if Palm is giving the single finger salute to Apple with a product by rubbing Apple's face in the things that should have been in the iPhone but weren't."
However, the new handset faced an immediate challenge today when Apple cut the price of its 8GB iPhone to just $99 (£61), which will cause Palm immediate problems as it undercuts the Pre by $100 (£62).
It will also invalidate an earlier price comparison which suggested that the Pre would be cheaper to own.
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