Bell's Palm Pre now free -- in exchange for three years of your life

How long does it take for a smartphone to go from two hundred bucks on contract all the way down to a big, fat goose egg? If you're Bell -- and the phone is the Palm Pre -- the answer is right around five months, apparently. Following its August release and a couple of mid-course pricing corrections, Bell's now making Palm's first webOS-based device available for free just as long as you're willing to commit to three years at a minimum spend of CAD $50 (about $47) a month. The move likely comes on the announcement of the Pre Plus, perhaps as a preemptive strike against any of its competitors planning on carrying it -- and if we were Sprint right now, we'd be paying very, very close attention to these guys.