Mobility

Sanity check: Could Palm Pre trump the iPhone, and will it matter?

The Palm Pre is the first smartphone innovative enough to give the iPhone a run for its money. In fact, it leapfrogs the iPhone in a several key areas. The big question is whether Palm can deliver and if it has the chutzpah to take on the Apple juggernaut.

The Palm Pre is the first smartphone innovative enough to give the iPhone a run for its money. In fact, it leapfrogs the iPhone in a several key areas. The big question is whether Palm can deliver and if it has the chutzpah to take on the Apple juggernaut.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To the surprise of virtually everyone in the tech industry, Palm stole the show at CES 2009 with the announcement of its Palm Pre smartphone and the new Palm webOS that runs it.

Although Palm was originally one of the pioneers of the smartphone with its Treo a half-decade ago, it had recently been floundering as Research in Motion and Apple have overrun the smartphone market with BlackBerries and iPhones, respectively, and Nokia quietly established smartphone domination in Europe.

Palm's biggest problem has been an outdated operating system, the Palm OS-the same OS that was running its PDAs in the 1990s. While Palm OS supported lots of legacy applications, it was slow, buggy, and simply not well suited for the types of applications needed in today's mobile environment.

So Palm did the smartest thing it could: It blew up the whole thing and started from scratch. While a drastically-revamped Palm OS has been rumored for years, most tech industry observers expected a similar-looking platform that was powered by something new (like Linux) under the hood.

Instead, what Palm announced at CES was a fresh start based on the Palm webOS, a new platform architected on Web standards HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The great thing that Palm did with webOS was not try to compete with iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, or Symbian. Instead, Palm thought about the way people currently use their smartphones and then tried to solve some of the nagging problems that no one else has fixed yet.

The result was surprisingly stunning. While the iPhone raised the user interface bar for smartphones so high that no one has previously even come close to nudging it, Palm's new UI does virtually everything the iPhone can do and drops in several important new innovations of its own.

Palm chairman Jon Rubinstein, who helped develop the iMac and the iPod at Apple before leaving in 2006, clearly has his fingerprints all over the product development of Palm's new webOS and especially the new Palm Pre, the first smartphone running the webOS. In fact, the Palm Pre demo at CES was so compelling that Palm's stock shot up 35% as pundits proclaimed Palm's resurrection and wondered aloud whether this was the iPhone's first real competitor.

Let's take a look at closer look at the Palm Pre and then consider whether it could potentially trump the iPhone. And even if Palm does have a hit in the making, is the company positioned to be able to challenge Apple, RIM, Google, and Nokia? That's the final question we'll consider.

Jon Rubinstein holds up the new Palm Pre during a press conference unveiled the Pre at CES 2009.  Photo by Andew Nusca. See full Palm Pre gallery.

Full specifications for Palm Pre

  • Exclusive carrier at launch: Sprint
  • Availability: First half of 2009
  • Weighs 4.8 ounces
  • Width: 2.3" Height: 3.9" Thickness: 0.67"
  • Texas Instruments OMAP3430 processor
  • 8 GB built-in storage (no SD expansion slot)
  • 3.1-inch half-VGA touch screen with 320x480 resolution and 24-bit color
  • Full slide-down QWERTY keyboard
  • EVDO Rev. A
  • 802.11b/g Wi-Fi
  • GPS with turn-by-turn navigation
  • 3.0 megapixel camera with LED flash
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and A2DP stereo support
  • Laptop tethering via Bluetooth
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Sensors for ambient light, proximity, and accelerometer
  • Replaceable battery
  • MicroUSB, USB 2.0, and USB mass storage support (looks like a drive when connected to a computer)
  • Microsoft Outlook e-mail via Microsoft Direct Push Technology
  • Support for POP3, IMAP, Gmail, Yahoo e-mail, AOL e-mail
  • Support for IM, SMS, and MMS
  • Media player with support for MP3, AAC, AAC+, AMR, QCELP, WAV, MPEG-4, H.263, H.264

Photo of the Palm Pre with the keyboard closed (see full Palm Pre gallery). Photo credit: Palm

Can it trump the iPhone?

Based on the public and private demos of the Palm Pre that I've seen, it will match the iPhone in its two strongest areas: a user-friendly touch interface and highly-functional Web browsing on a smartphone. However, there are three areas where the Palm Pre could potentially have important advantages over the iPhone:

1. Multi-tasking: The Palm Pre offers what I consider to be the first fully functional multi-tasking in a smartphone. On most smartphones you can only effectively work in one application or window at a time and switching between apps is clunky. The Palm webOS introduces the "Cards" interface for quickly shuffling between apps. It's made to look like you're shuffling through a deck of cards. You push the center button on the Pre and your current app shrinks down to a card on the screen and the other open apps look like cards, too. You then swipe your finger to the left or the right to browse through the apps and tap on the one you want to open. So, for example, you can easily have one e-mail message open to read while writing a separate e-mail in which you want to quote from the first e-mail. Palm has also integrated IM and e-mail alerts along the bottom of the screen, so that you can get a quick preview of a message and click into it if it's time-sensitive. 2. Multi-threaded messaging: Palm recognized that a lot people use their smartphones for both business and personal use, and wanted to find ways to allow people to both segment business and work data while also providing opportunities to view some of that information in a more cohesive way. Thus, it created the unified inbox where you can see all of the e-mail accounts you have and drill down into a particular one. But you can also click the "All inboxes" view to see all of your messages from all of your accounts in chronological order. The same thing can be done for your calendars as well. It can also tie together your buddy lists and conversations from multiple IM clients. And for your contacts, it can pull information together on your contacts from multiple sources, including Exchange, Facebook, and other social media sites. 3. Hardware keyboard: I have previously admitted that the number one reason I don't use an iPhone as my primary smartphone is because I can't stand the on-screen keyboard.  For any kind of regular intensive typing, most people find that the iPhone simply isn't very usable. As a result, the fact that Palm has included a slide-down hardware keyboard in the Pre is quite significant. My only concern is that the Pre is a fairly slender device and so the QWERTY keyboard has small keys that look pretty cramped. It wasn't a problem for me to type on, but my fingers are thinner than most.

There are also several small items in which the Palm Pre has an advantage over the iPhone: replaceable battery, copy-and-paste, laptop tethering, and a camera flash.

So where will the Palm Pre come up in short in comparison to the iPhone? Well, the iPhone is on AT&T's GSM network and so it has much better international roaming capabilities than Sprint's EVDO network, where the Pre will debut. So the iPhone will still be more attractive to international business travelers. The iPhone also has an established base of developers along with its App Store for successfully distributing third party applications. Because Palm is starting over with a new platform, it will also need to start over in building a new developer community. Although the fact that webOS apps use open Internet standards will help, it will still take time to mobilize a new developer ecosystem.

The other X factor is price. Palm did not announce how much the Pre will cost, but since this is a premium device the expectation is that it will fall within the $199-$399 range (with a two-year contract from Sprint). The challenge is that Palm needs to make money on the Pre, so it can't price it too low. However, the 8 GB iPhone 3G costs $199 (the 16 GB costs $299) and the BlackBerry Bold costs $299. Those are the devices that the Pre will be competing directly against, so the price needs to be $299 or less and preferably $199 in order to compete head-to-head with the iPhone.

Will it matter?

Prior to CES, most of us in the press were simply waiting to hear the official death announcement for Palm. The company was losing market share in the burgeoning smartphone market, it had made a series of mistakes in recent years that had deteriorated its business and balance sheet, and it hadn't had a hit product in years.

Of course, the Palm Pre and the webOS changed those perceptions overnight. Now, the big question is ... if Palm really does have a breakthrough product on its hands, does it have the resources and the wherewithal to take on Apple, RIM, and Google (which joined the market in 2008)? Is it in the smartphone business for the long haul or is it looking for a buyer to quickly take advantage of its new hot commodity status?

At CES, Rubinstein talked like an executive with ambitious plans for the future. He said, "We've built our next generation platform which we're going to evolve for the next 10 years. Pre is the first product that that platform is shipping on, but there are other products in the pipeline... The key is not to build just one great product. The key is to build a team that can make great products time and time again, and then put a roadmap in place that brings out a steady stream of great products... The team is extremely excited about the response we got this morning but we've got to go deliver the products and work on the next one."

Rubinstein also mentioned plans to take the Pre to other carriers and continents. "This one is CDMA," he said. "We do want to go around the rest of the world so there will be a 3G version that works in Europe and other places."

The good news for Palm is that on December 22 (just before CES), it got a $100 million cash infusion from Elevation Partners. That will give it the capital it needs to pursue its strategy with the webOS and the Palm Pre. But the company's margin of error is very small. It can't afford any more business mistakes like the Centro (which makes no money) or product mistakes like the Foleo (which never even made it to market).

And with the Pre, Palm has to deliver all of the features it has promised in a smartphone that has snappy performance, good battery life, and relatively few bugs. Oh, and the price needs to be competitive with the iPhone. But if Palm can pull off all of that, then look out, because at that point the Pre really would give the iPhone a run for its money.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

58 comments
sguss38
sguss38

Somebody want to tell me how I port my address book, appointments, memos and applications that I have come to depend on (like Smartlist to Go and Office on the Palm)to the new pre.

czdrummer
czdrummer

I wish Palm luck, I have history with them. However, the one thing that most of these devices lack is proper back end support. I want a phone that works, not drops calls, has poor tower availability, or one end can not hear the other. Call me silly but if I buy a phone, I want a phone to work. I like these features, but somebody start to focus on articles about the lack of coverage in America. I live 3 miles away from a major highway and when the leaves are on the trees, I get one bar if I am lucky. Hey Verizon, can you hear me now!!

Norm Cimon
Norm Cimon

I've been waiting for a while hoping that something not inhabiting the closed world of Apple would arrive and it has. We're still using very old cell phones on a two-year expired contract. That ends with the arrival of this gem. Looking forward to using it and the data services it will make available.

Kontra07
Kontra07

"Pre's introduction, website, technology packaging, industrial design, UI, product naming and positioning...down to the flow of its CES presentation were pointedly, but perhaps not surprisingly, Apple-like. Of all the current iPhone competitors, Pre clearly captures the 'soul' of the iPhone as much as any product not-from-Cupertino can. Whatever Pre 'borrows' from the iPhone, it does so not with the brazen indifference of recent iPhone-killers, but with care and purpose." However: "Palm is clearly late to iPhone's party. By the time the first Pre is sold, the iPhone will likely have 30 million users in 70+ countries, 15,000 apps, a huge developer and peripherals ecosystem, perhaps a third of the market share and 40% of smartphone revenues. And that's before the next generation iPhone device and OS are introduced." I explored Pre's chances in: "Strategic shortcomings of Pre in the post-iPhone era" http://counternotions.com/2009/01/12/pre/

AlfieJr
AlfieJr

amazing all the puff about the Pre when absolutely no one has had a chance to actually use it in the real world yet. just one demo at CES and a few fully-assisted and supervised minutes to play with it. The Storm looked great until then too. let's wait and see before we make conclusions. as to the competition, also need to see what iPhone 3.0 will offer at about the same time too.

john3347
john3347

I am currently using a Palm Centro which I have limited satisfaction with. It has a quite un-intuitive interface and certain simple and frequently repeated operations like initiating a phone call require too many "buttons". I would be a potential customer for a Palm Pre in a few months when my 2 year contract with Verizon expires, but I would not switch to Sprint under any circumstances. I have just heard and read too much negative and too little positive about Sprint. I wonder how phone manufacturers decide who gets exclusive market rights for their products; is it simply which retailer offers the manufacturer the biggest "bribe"? If that is the case, I wonder if the "bribe" is really worth the limited market share they limit themselves to.

egandb
egandb

Let's go way back to the days of the Palm Vx. Our company had 2-3 of these in service at the time. Within days of the warranty period expiration, one of the Vx's screens just died. No sympathy or support from Palm. They wanted us to buy a refurbished unit, or buy new. HP is what we've gone to, and we haven't looked back. HP's (and Apple's) customer service is far superior to Palm's. I don't see this being an iPhone alternative for our company.

klocke
klocke

There will be a great deal of anticipation for this phone, but Sprint needs to continue to expand its' coverage areas. Seemingly all other carriers have better coverage in the U.S.

meshachw
meshachw

You point out one of the biggest problems was the outdated OS. Although that was a significant problem you missed the hardware quality issue. Everyone I know who owned a Palm phone had these problems. I personally went through 7 or 8 phones, starting with the 550 through the 650. They just fell apart! If this is not addressed by Palm a lot of people will not take the leap. And seriously, "Sprint"!? No way are people going to go from a GSM network to Sprint. Another poorly designed system if I ever saw one.

XnavyDK
XnavyDK

I have owned quite a few palm products. I have been quite satisfied with them all. I would get this one of my phone service offers it. edited: If the only carrier is sprint the thing will die probably and definately not get out to the masses like it should. PALM listen to the masses. Get the device to other carriers so you can get some of the market share and I may buy some of your stock again...

trex0314
trex0314

My question is, why Sprint? Why can't the phones be sold independant of Services? Verizon is the best in my area and the Storm doesn't have Wifi.

jpdecesare
jpdecesare

The iPhone is a Mac. It's a blast to use, with a UI that, once again, shows Apple's proficiency in making a UI. The Pre and the Storm and the Omnia and the blah blah blah will no doubt be great machines, like a Windows PC is a great machine (which I primarily use). But the clientelle for the iPhone is different than the user base that likes the Blackberries and Win Mobile and all that. A comparison seems pointless. Here's a revelation: instead of 3 and 4 and 5 new phones being designed to trump the iPhone, how about the non-Apple manufacturers making a great phone that has the features that corporate users want, and it actually WORKS. Hey! What an idea! In the meantime, I'll continue to have a blast with my iPhone and not feel guilty. ;-)

mrs1622
mrs1622

By the time the Pre ships, the iPhone will have 25,000 third party, and most likely a new rev of hardware and software. I think the battle now is for second place, but even so, it may be worth $100 million investment to get second place, and it may be a worthwhile purchase for many people. Competition is good.

ncudmore
ncudmore

I've been looking after mobiles, Blackberries etc in companies for some years, and it look's like another close but not quite the one attempt. Let me explain. Phone users in companies tend to fall into two camps - the techies and the executives. Here's some observations from the years.... Teckies want want a 'cool' phone that will do everything, and for many it's function is the main concern. Nokia E90 type users, you can run a ssh session to a server on it, get your e-mail, phone, voip etc. etc. So a teckie needs a good screen and qwerty keyboard in there on the list. The keyboard on the Palm looks a bit small for this, voip? Wireless and 802.1x security? The executive type wants something which looks good, a bit of a status symbol it you like - they don't want a brick. They don't want something which they have to read the manual for, but again technology moves on. This is not enough these days, people are beginning to ask for more. A single phone number for the persons contact, not office number, mobile etc. So it needs voip to link to the office switchboard. That said many exec types want dual sim. They have a personal life and want to keep it that way, so they end up carrying a personal mobile for friends and family. The multiple diary item looks great , as does the multiple email - but can a PA book a meeting or update a meeting and it then show up via remote sync?. What about remote management? The number of exec types over the years that 'loose' mobiles, they don't want their life's details being unsecured, if you loose a blackberry, you can remotely wipe it - this is a major plus. Other, common bit's.... Sync of contacts, diary events etc. Is this just Windoze and Exchange? What about Mac, Linux, and dare I say Lotus Notes users? Links to the company directory? Exec's like delegation to PAs of things like keeping business phone/email contacts upto date - so what about remote sync of personal/company name and address books? Single band, hey more people want/need to roam what about Quad band? The camera, some companies don't really like camera phones, because of the security risk, what about a camera free version? Again same thing with the IM, many companies provide IM in house, will it talk to things such as SameTime or whatever is in use? Can MSN, google talk etc. be blocked on the device, after all you don't want dealers dropping hints to people.... or worse! I guess since it's not yet a European version it's not something for me to look at too closely yet, but just some thoughts above on it.......

pmascard
pmascard

I've been a long time Palm user with Chapura KeySuite. I've been tempted by the Treo, Mobile Winows, Symbian and iPhone but none seemed to come close to the way I worked with the Palm. It was fast(ish) not too complicated and it worked. I had all the power and apps I would ever need. I hope that the Palm Pre comes somewhere close this time. The Treo always had the OS I needed to continue but the upgrade wasn't worth it for a phone not in the current hardware capabilities. Will webOS be capable of pulling me free of the 1990's?

devesh
devesh

The Palm Pre sounds good on paper. The ergonomics of the keyboard and Wi-Fi will differentiate it as a business phone or not. From the pictures, I am not very impressed, but Palm has always delivered decent if not good keyboards. I hope the Pre does not suffer the fate of the BB8800 compared to the Curve. I somehow cannot seem to understand, why US manufacturers insist on tying their new phone models to a particular carrier. It only serves to limit their market, while allowing global competitors like Nokia, Samsung, HTC, Sony and others, time to develop competition. It is high time Palm, RIM, and Apple realise that the world is a lot bigger market than the US, especially now in these lean times.

r_toi
r_toi

Dated, ugly : Yes Buggy, slow... hmmm are you sure that was a PalmOS device ?

ian.watkins
ian.watkins

If not, it's not a lot of good a business phone....

richard.stroud
richard.stroud

It will have Wifi, 3G and bluetooth. If it has Voice over Bluetooth, it will be the first phone to have it all.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Access who baught the original PalmOS code released a GarnetVM with the idea that the new OS under development would run older programs under the encapsoltead Garnet OS. On my N810, I run the few old Palm apps I can't live without that way. In this case, it appears the PRE does not support a VM for backward compatibility so your out of luck unless you can first sync all your data up to Google or such then back down to the PRE. That takes care of your PIM info but the specific apps are out in the cold.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

This follows the normal movie plot it seems; cool gadget at CES, lots of hands-off speculation to help drum up hype, product delivery, hands-on analysis and argument over everyone's favourite brand names. ;) Apple does it really well but the stages seem to play out with all the big wizbang gadgets. Like you say, we'll have to see the delivered product before real analysis can begin.

chrisganderampy
chrisganderampy

Probably a silly question, but why can't you just change the SIM - as I do on my normal Samsung Anycall and 1020 Pocket PC. Then I have China Mobile in China and Vodaphone in UK and Europe. Or is that too simple?

markbebout
markbebout

I think that you make an excellent point here, it is the same frustration that I deal with. I would not go back to Sprint under any circumstances, I guess I got tired of receiving text messages 11 hours after they were sent to me. Their network is horrible, they keep saying it is "getting better". I am with Verizon and other than the fact that they have no wi-fi enabled phones I am satisfied with them. But who in the heck came up with this idea of limiting a new phone to one carrier? This has to be the worst idea in the history of mankind! I wish I could find a way to express my disdain for this type of activity. How can this possibly be good for the carriers AND the phone manufacturers business?

reed
reed

I have a Refurb Palm Vx still works today. And I have several other Palms that are still working in fact if I could have replaced the batteries without heating the case etc... the attorneys in my office would have never let them go. The Palm TX is slow but it is in my opinion better that the iPhone in many respects. At least you can write on the screen or use an external keyboard instead of trying to type on the lame keyboard. As for the Palm Treo's I have at least 4 users that had them and nearly wore the cases out, One was held together with duct tape, on the devices with minimal if any problems. Most of the calls were the users own problem. They try to sync to an internal exchange server through the wire and are not able to because the address wont resolve internally. I look forward to testing one of these. The iPhone is to big and bulky. I hope the Pre is smaller than that iPhone boat anchor.

cyrusamini
cyrusamini

In my area, which is San Diego, Sprint does wonders. I can speak on my phone at any point in my building even in the garage and elevators. ATT, VZ and T-Mobile truly have drawbacks, especially T-Mobile. Why everyone bashes Sprint is mind boggling. In a recent review by JD Powers Sprint emulated T & VZ in customer services and data downloading in 50 different locations. Last but not least, their pricing also was more favorable to the consumer. The new mgmt at Sprint has truly done a turn around. With the new Pre from Palm, great data download speeds, Wimax, and the best pricing and customer service Sprint has been revitalized.

bill
bill

Because there are two different technologies. To create the same phone for two different systems at the same time increases their time to market significantly. On top of the cost to develop, the exclusive contracts with the carriers helps both parties. Right now Palm, RIM & Apple sell more smartphones than any other company. Who cares if Nokia and Samsung want to build another crappy flip phone for both networks. If you want an iPhone, go to AT&T, if you want a Storm, go to Verizon. I'm tired of everyone complaining about being "tied to a single carrier" and "no choice". It seems to be working out quite well for both the carriers and the manufacturers.

rmrf
rmrf

If the iPhone didn't require me to switch to AT&T, I'd have an iPhone. If the Pre didn't require me to switch to Sprint, I'd look very seriously into getting one. I haven't had any real problems with my current carrier, so given all the customer service nightmare stories out there, I'm not anxious to switch.

bvlenci
bvlenci

I have a moribund Palm LifeDrive, and I've never encountered bugs. It's a lot faster and more stable than my husband's IPaq phone.

Alganon
Alganon

I was glad to see a positive review of this product. I have been a Palm user since the Palm iii. I use a Palm Life Drive still, because SMS is so easy with graffiti, and a bluetooth link with my Nokia phone makes it happen. Palm's big mistake was when they decided to use their enemy's OS, and what a horrible thing to inflict on a market leading device. Apple is not the enemy but MS is, and because they can, they should have set the new device up with native synchronisation for OpenOffice.org and a Firefox, Thunderbird and Lightning setup. Smart 21st Century businesses are looking to escape from MS clutches, and setting the Palm up this way would have given them sufficient reason to change. Data Viz could have still been given the opportunity to sort out the need for synch with the old fashioned MS formats. Not having even a micro SD card slot is a serious mistake, but all of the other features are winners. Go Palm!!!

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

Hahahahahaha! It's a no brainer feature that is missing from all Palm OS phones. It sucks that I have to scream into my phone to do a voice dial with the BT in my ear. It's pure BS.

McJJJ
McJJJ

In checking out other info online I found some pretty cool video clips of the new features the Palm Pre offers and it looks promising. It's a lot like the iPhone and a lot simpler to navigate than Windows based phones and Blackberries. I like the iPhone: it's UI, navigation, simplicity and all the applications. Windows Mobile is old and clunky, unfortunately that's what I'm stuck with right now. I'm with Verizon because they have the best coverage and most reliable network in my area. I actually tried AT&T for a month but had more dropped calls and bad connections (or no connections) in the month I was with them than the previous two years with Verizon. The fact that new phones are only being brought to market under one carrier is...umm...there just really isn't one word to describe how dumb that idea is. WAKE UP YOU MINDLESS ZOMBIES! Ok, I feel a little better. ;-) Aside from the fact that the phone is rather ugly, it looks promising. I'm still not sure if I'm a fan of the slide out keyboard. I've got one on my current phone (Verizon XV6800) and it's kind of annoying to pop it out to the side, wait for the screen to rotate and then start to type. Definitely not something you can do with one hand. Slide out keyboards also add bulk to the phone. The added bulk could be used for larger batteries, memory slots, etc. instead. Granted, the keyboard on the Pre slides out with one hand and looks like it might work nicely, but I would like to see a nice on screen keyboard too. I've used the iPhone enough to get used to it somewhat and think it's pretty useful. Sure it takes a little getting used to and takes up screen real estate but there's no fumbling with one had to try and open it up and possibly drop your phone. Then there's the web browser. The iPhone seems to have the corner on that market. A browser that works, that's all I really want. Opera is doing good with their new beta version and it includes support for flash (which the iPhone lacks at this time) but it's not quite there yet. Haven't seen much about the browser on the Pre, but hopefully it provides an experience as close to a desktop browser as possible. Aside from that, it looks like it can do the other important things I love in my mobile phone: Sync contacts, email and calendar events. It looks like this phone is one step closer to the perfect phone I would like, but not quite yet. The Pre does have the ability to copy and paste (which the iPhone still lacks). A larger screen would be nice, make it available to more than one carrier, give it a nicer camera, create tons of killer apps and then I would really consider buying one. Kudos to Palm for starting over and trying to do it right. I think they are headed in the right direction.

wolfshades
wolfshades

I've owned Palm products pretty much from the beginning, and still own a T|X for the purpose of syncing data between machines only. Having watched Palm's demise over the past few years, it seemed apparent they were just waiting for the medical examiner to declare it dead. While the options and abilities on this device are great, it's a matter of them entering against the iPhone a little too late in the game. They can't get their momentum up fast enough, and get the developers creating apps fast enough to effectively compete with Apple. If they're going after the large scale business market, they're going to have to address security big-time. Over the air encryption, the ability to wipe a device clean, the works. Even the iPhone's half-hearted attempts to provide enterprise connectivity doesn't meet those requirements. And so Blackberry still reigns in the business market - as it should. I think Palm just got a shot of adrenalin but it's still pretty much game over for them.

rcollins
rcollins

It doesn't seem all that long ago that I read almost word for word the same glowing testament to the iPhone killing super powers of the Blackberry Storm. That phone turned out to be a slug with a very UNintuitive user interface. I've held onto my Treo 650 Smartphone because I use Verizon as my carrier and the stupidly refused to carry the iPhone. They also decided to strip away the wifi capabilities so they could rake in the cash on their data plan. I think any carrier who picks up the Pre should be prepared to let Palm's vision come thru INTACT. If it comes to Verizon, it will probably come minus it's wifi, minus it's bluetooth tethering and will report all calls made on it to Homeland Security.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

Verizon programs their phones over the air so there is no SIM card to swap. I am not certain what sprint does. Not all carriers use the same radios so it is not always possible to take a phone from one carrier and use it with a different carrier. Bill

adriankeith
adriankeith

but I saw a couple of videos and the interface is still not up to par with the iPhone. The touch has to be really deliberate. I was watching a review and he had to press the home button with some intensity just to get it to finally open up the applications window. I do like the idea behind multi-tasking and how swiping upwards closes an app but theres going to need to be more to it than just that. Blackberry is the way to go for business professionals and I don't think apple was really aiming to take over that market. However, they did try to provide a solution for those who wanted some business functionality and for that I know I'm grateful.

mikey3211
mikey3211

I've always wondered why in the US phones, in particular 'pride' phones like the iPhone, this Pre, and others are only every released to one network exclusively. Here in Australia that just seems counter-intuitive. Why would a manufacturer deliberately limit themselves to a small chunk of the market than going for the whole market? I understand if they want to license a version for a specific carrier so that carrier can pre-load it with software or configuration, but not why they would throw away 80% of potential handset customers...

McJJJ
McJJJ

I think you're missing the point. In my experience, most of the people that I have talked to don't want to switch carriers because the carrier they have is better than the carrier they would be switching to. For example: In my case, I would have an iPhone but AT&T's service and reception where I live, work, and use my phone the most isn't very good. How do I know? I tried switching for a month and went back to Verizon because I had more problems in that one month than I had had in the two previous years with Verizon. I'd rather be tied to a carrier that actually delivers service than one that doesn't. I know a lot of people that would go out and buy an iPhone today if Verizon announced it was carrying them. Sure it might be working out well for the carriers and manufactures, but there are people that won't sacrifice good service just to have the latest and greatest gadget. Hmmmm...go figure.

devesh
devesh

The CDMA radio and GSM radios are ready modules with Palm, since they have built and sold both models before. Palm does not even have to go to GSM world congress for type testing. A type testing costs close to $0.5 million. No phone manufacturer could afford to do type testing for each model, they do it for a standardised GGSM or CDMA module and then deploy the module across a battery of models. The concept of locking is a pure software function, and nothing else. The US market is a very small fraction of the world. In India, we add 6~8 million subscribers a month, and that is probably more than the US adds in a year. China is also in similar numbers. Palm has to address the world market, not just the US, if it wants to achieve the volumes that will bring it back in the big boys league. In most of the world, there is no concept of locking. Apple tried it in India, and failed miserably. Read http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/india/article.cfm?articleid=4317. Nokia and Samsung offer their latest, best and greatest phones in the world market. I cannot comment about their models in the US. Check their website for non US models.

bvlenci
bvlenci

I also am still using a moribund Life Drive. It meets my needs exactly; I prefer to keep my phone separate anyway. I've noticed that good used Life Drives cost about as much as new ones used to, so I think plenty of people feel the same way. The only real flaws on the Life Drive were the hard disk and the fragile cord connection. Still, if the Pre would incorporate the Mozilla applications as you suggest, and allow them to be two-way synced, I might even accept the phone and keyboard. If it had iSilo, that would also be a big plus. I agree that it's a mistake not to include a card slot. An SD card has many more justifications than just extra storage. Maybe a future model will have that.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The serial connected Palms where fine because the port didn't jump around but I've never seen any of the existing Palm Sync apps on a Linux distro manage the USB connections jumping around constantly. I'd like to see Palm release a native sync program or at least open specs so that one can be written.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

The Storm's on-screen keyboard was still a killer for me. I still view the Storm as a device that IT depts (who have a BES backend) can give to users who are clamoring for the iPhone. The difference with the Pre is that it has a multi-touch interface that is actually on par with the iPhone.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

for a moment, I read you title as "Didn't we hear the same about the STORM botnet?" due to other morning reading. Suddenly I'm thinking "What, like a DDos out the iPhones?" They do claim a WebOS after all.. ;)

josephhand
josephhand

so... you have been a verizon customer for a while, huh? ;-)

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

Carriers can gain customers this way so they pay the handset manufacturer money. This usually cuts the price of the phone and makes it more competitive. If the US market was willing to pay the full price for a phone than this probably wouldn't happen. The fact of the matter is carrier have been giving away phones for years to build a customer base so very few people are willing to purchase a phone outright. This is also why the phone insurance business is doing so well. People get a free phone and then when they break it they have to pay several hundred dollars to replace their free phone. I always wonder how much carriers over charge so they can afford several hundred dollars per customer to buy new business. Bill

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

At least it may be worth looking into if you can't replace the cable. That may mean 11b wireless though unless the lifedrive can be updated to 11g wireless. My uses where much the same though except I favoured PDF for reading. I still dump any interesting news articles to PDF for reading on PDA. Actually, I really used to giggle when the iPods first came out. "Oh man, you gotta get one of these.. they play music!" - and I'm thinking: "Yeah.. but my PDA is smaller than an iPod, plays music, video, documents, PIM, bluetooth and wireless supported.. " Even now, an iPod would just be limiting myself.. even if it was the iPod with the cell radio in it.

bvlenci
bvlenci

... so I can't compare it to the LifeDrive, but the LifeDrive had everything I needed. I kept my (Outlook) calendar, contacts, and notes synchronized. I downloaded books in iSilo format and converted Word documents to iSilo for easy reading on the Palm, I listened to music (and kept that synced), kept my favorite photos synced, played Othello, and never felt it lacked anything. Then the connector failed and now I can't sync it any more, so it's lost a lot of its utility.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Now if the latest VM from Access bridges the bluetooth radio, I have the last outstanding function migrated finally; I just haven't been able to give up my fun loving bluejack app. ;) The spinning platter was one major reason for sticking with the T5 for me (sdio NIC). I was doing a lot of travel by skateboard and flash instead of moving parts was important. I believe it has a slower cpu also though I never confirmed if it still put out faster calculations. the 11b limitation blew it off my network also. It can't do 11g; it doesn't need network connectivity that badly then.

jonathankonrad
jonathankonrad

I too am or was a hardcore PALM user. I was able to pick up a LifeDrive for a fraction of the price, and with the easy switch to a CF card from the horrible HD, it turned into a device that has lasted years. Even now the only reason I needed to upgrade was my work network no longer allows 802.11b only g, so my LD was locked out. A web based OS sounds awesome, but I'm surprised they did not include a garnet vm like Access is doing. PALM does need to start fresh, but I don't see the down side of saying "hey this new platform can still run 1000s of existing apps".

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

When the LifeDrive came out, I looked at it as a replacement for my T5 and it actually provided a hardware and feature downgrade from the T5.. as did the TX and Treo families. It wasn't until Nokia's N800 that I found something providing an actual upgrade. I'm still trying to replace a last few features my T5 provides though. I still say, stick to the T5 chassis shape and update the OS/internals. More flash memory, faster process, stronger battery, updated networking radios. I sincerely wish Palm the best of luck. They created the market they're now trounced all over in.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Mind you, by USB I mean ssh and sshfs. Mind you, the advantage is that my PDA and desktop are *nix platforms so they talk to each other and other platforms very well. The down side is that the PIM software on my PDA is not so mature. My T5 really did PIM well, that two week view of the calendar and tasks was the default display when not doing anything else.

gaedwards
gaedwards

You say that it does ActiveSync, but then point out that one can simply drag files to it as a USB drive. These aren't the same thing - as another poster asked, getting PIM info from a desktop isn't addressed in ANY of Palm's statements about the Pre - everything they talk about is based on synching with Web-located data. I don't keep my PIM data on the Web; I keep it on my desktop and my Treo, and keep the two devices synched. NONE of this data is going to go on the Web, so if the Pre doesn't support this sort of 'wired' synching, it's not even a Treo killer, let alone an iPhone killer.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd have to see how "standalone" it can function for my own needs if I where in the market. So it's really just a thinclient with a cell phone radio and a "usb drive" mode then. The "usb hard drive" mode was fantastic on the T series and made for a handy sd card reader when I didn't have one handy. Transferring files is not really an issue though. It would be transferring the PIM info that really matters. If it's using Google or similar for a back end then the tools already exist for that.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

The Palm webOS apps are all HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. For better or worse, they are clearly oriented toward cloud computing and not focused on local sync. However, the Pre is set up to act as a local drive when it is plugged in via USB so that you can add any files manually.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

That stupid click screen is a killer for me. How long is that going to last in the enterprise? How many phones will I have to replace in 3, 6, 9, and 12 months? I'm betting most phones will wear out at the 6 month mark, especially if the sales guys are using them.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

$30 bucks a month for $10 mb and $50 a month for unlimited. I pay less for my home Internet service than Verizon's tripe! They castrate any phone they get so that they can sell you expensive features like data and tethering. It's a damn shame that Verizon won't even allow us to choose. It's pathetic.