Editorial: Palm Pre's Fat Chance

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Great article, interesting mix of informative description and pessimism.

On the perceived defined audience, knowing what I do about the device (having closely followed most news since January) I would submit that its all of the above. There are features across the board that would fit well as the go-to gadget for both business and personal use.

Killer app - we have no idea what Palm has in play for initial release, but news from the development front is overwhelmingly positive, so this is a non-issue. As the phone reaches the market, developers will reach the platform.

Lacking a killer platform argument is at best adolescent, at worst screams of competing platform fanboyism. From design to OS, this is a groundbreaking platform.

Finally, to label multitasking and Synergy as "fleeting" is a true indication that you need to study the device and the OS a bit more before you pen your next article.
 

williamvw

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I didn't mean to say that multitasking and Synergy were fleeting. Quite the opposite. I believe that Palm has correctly identified and implemented two groundbreaking advances. What I said was that "Pre has two fleeting advantages," as in Palm's advantage with these features will vanish as soon as the competition copies them. That quibble aside, many thanks for the kind words. :)
 

nickdg

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I like the article. You are a good writer, something that is lacking these days on the Internet.

But the article wreaks of Apple/RIM fanboyism. No matter how much you don't like it, Palm revolutionized the smartphone realm with the Treo. They have a lot of experience in this regard and shouldn't be taken lightly. The whole "ecosystem" comment is complete BS anyway. The Pre isn't an iPod, it's a phone designed to keep you organized and connected. For some reason the media feels the need to think all smartphones should be multi-media phones like the iPhone. Palm has said time and time again that their market is different. If anything RIM should be worried since that is Palm's market.
 

williamvw

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I agree. RIM should be very worried. This is why I think you'll see RIM be next in line with the cloud model. If RIM misses this opening, then yes, Palm could gain some serious share. As for being a fanboy...should I admit that I still use an old 5G iPod and now buy my MP3s from Amazon? But that's just me. Function over form.
 
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The Pre's UI makes the iPhone look old and seem dated. Plus the Pre is not an iPhone killer, its the anti-iPhone. A great option for all those people who dont want to buy an iPhone. Has real keyboard, not on At&T, replaceable battery, plus simple UI.
 

hellwig

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4 hours to charge, must have some nice run-time. My G1 charges in a couple hours, but then I'm charging it every other day (or every day if I use it a lot).

I think the iPhone is probably the only smartphone that doesn't have an application manager. It seems like every other phone lets you start an app, go back to the main screen, and start another app without closing down or killing the first one. Why they need to keep bringing that up is beyond me.
 
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RIM bias is amuck in this article. You do raise some perfectly valid points but when you start comparing your Curve to a Pre, you're definitely missing something(depending on what you're doing obviously). And while they lack an ecosystem at the moment, with the SDK and the App Catalog, it looks like Palm is working to build out its applications as it did back in the days of Palm OS. And RIM should be worried. A horrible web browser implementation and a dated OS along with a botched launch of the Storm have in my opinion, tarnished the image of a company I knew and loved.
 

mannyman

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I think the first line should have the disclaimer that you have never touched the device. I hope you revisit this editorial once you have actually used the phone.
As to the "Who needs this?/Who is the target?" argument:
I smirked when you said you don't leave your PC yet still felt a need to own a Blackberry. If you were to write about the Curve the way you wrote about the Pre you might convince yourself to use a Razr.
I think the great number of people who do not want a Blackberry or iPhone should give this a try, that is Palm's self professed market. Smartphone adoption is projected to grow exponentially; Palm hopes there is more than enough room for more than just the two you seem to limit the market to.
I sort of agree with the assessment of iPhone for kids (users of Axe products)and add the stereotype of BB for non desk-slave office worker. But the reality is that both these groups may want a phone that has all the benefits you describe. What is weird is that you perplexingly say something better out there will not dissuade people from using an inferior option. Ease of use, Cloud syncing benefits, Amazon instead of iTunes, awesome multitasking, physical keyboard, all seem like tipping the scales in its favor until the deal breaker of not being spawned by a Fruity company is brought up.
 

williamvw

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First off, I could be wrong. The developers could flock to webOS, the apps could be stunning, and word of mouth on the phone could move 10 million units before back-to-school is done. It could happen. Maybe. But here we are 30 days or less before the expected launch and I just don't see it happening. It's not about the phone. The phone is great. It's about the market and buying patterns of average consumers and ad dollars and all the rest. (I write my articles with WordPerfect, so I don't have to look far for examples of superior products unjustly crushed by competition.) Palm has to build serious momentum very quickly at a time when its abilities to create momentum are under heavy stress.

I'd like this market to become a three-horse race, really. But the odds seem stacked against it happening. I guess in 12 months we'll know which way the wind blew, eh?

BTW, I do leave my PC every once in a while...just not as often as I'd like. Also, the Razr was a great phone. And I'm very partial to smoke signals. ;-)
 

fonyx

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I would like to think I am in the target market. I am a new physician in his mid twenties. I do not have AT&T. The treo 600 was my first step into the smartphone realm because me 1st year of medical school a palm device was required to take exams. I later moved on to another touch screen device, The HTC touch. After having an all touch device I desperately missed my physical keyboard on my treo. I didn't want a Blackberry because I did enjoy having some touch screen features, and at the time every other phone with a slide out keyboard was enormous. Here I am about to begin residency, due for a new phone with Sprint because the prices are the most affordable out of the major carriers, and I need a phone that can keep me organized, has a physical keyboard, can hold some music and video (I have never been able to use more than a few gigs on my iPod), a phone with touch capabilities, and can make my day go by a bit easier. I don't know about you guys, but I stop into Best Buy and Im told im about the 12th person that day to ask about the Pre. They put me on a notification list and I am #38 in suburban NJ. I am currently using a Palm Pro, and strangers stop me when they see the back and say "Is that the Pre!?" and I say no. There is this subtle excitement where people want this phone but no one wants to scream to loud because God forbid they cannot get one at launch. The idea to go with Sprint is pure Genius. Sprint needs the Pre and Palm needs Sprint. Two companies championing the other. I am a Sprint customer and this exists as the "Coolest" option of all! The pretty but laggy HTC phones, the cheezy samsung phones, the non-touch screen blackberries, just never seemed to strike me well... Now there just seems to be this one lil phone that got it right and it's not trying to be the belle of the ball, but rather simply show that it deserves to be a guest at the party, and Im excited to have this one on my arm :)
 
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I still see tons of business people using the Treo. Why? You get a keyboard, application flexibility and don't have to put up with the Blackberry menu interface. That's the same advantages the Pre has. The problem the Pre WILL have is the network. If it was on Verizon, it would do great. I'm not so sure on Sprint...
 
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Nice article. I think you may underestimate how much attention and buzz the Pre will receive due to its very attractive and innovative UI, but I completely agree about their target market being fuzzy. While I think it (and future, more media-savvy Web OS devices) will do well, you - by which I mean some of the more starry-eyed Palm fans and would-be Pre enthusiasts - have to consider what it's up against. If Palm sells 1M Sprint-exclusive Pres by the end of this year, that will be a big success and will save the company. But that success still will leave the rapidly growing iPhone OS userbase anywhere from thirty to *sixty* times its size. (Apple's secret weapon here is the iPod Touch.) That is a very serious challenge for building developer momentum.
 
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The Palm Pre would be perfect phone for a guy like me , Why

1. It has enough on the connectivity front through exchange integration and other commonly used email platforms like gmail.
2. It does have a music player and i can put enough music on it for my personal use.
3. It has a great web browser for my work.
4. Synergy would be the single biggest plus for me since i am on facebook, linked in and orkut and would like my contacts synergised (Pun intended)
5. Multi tasking and background app support is pretty good.
6. I am not much of a gamer on my mobile , but Palm can do gaming if as the platform is pretty powerful.

Now to get to the resons why it would work exceedingly well in a country like mine (India).

The most used smartphone in India is neither the Iphone , nor the G1 or derivatives becasue, iphone is very expensive 16gb version costs nearly 700 dollars to buy in india and google phones are not available. The blackberry has a good support in the corporate community but most of the users are in the BIS environment. The best selling platform is the Symbian S60/S40 platform .

The Palm pre can better the experience of the Symbian phones any day.

Most tech inclined Net Savvy people in my country are on facebook and orkut and would love to have a way to be connected if the phone does it natively.

India does not have the fantastic support of the Apple platform that other geographies have and that in my opinion would kind of help the Palm pre in our geography. The Itunes ecosystem is geared for certain geographies more than the other. Palm's best bet would be to target the other markets equally when they do the webos world tour.

In all if Palm pre launched the phone in India at an affordable rate (in the 400$) range then it would easily take the market from the Symbian S60 phones like the Nokia E series and the Sony E 9xx series. It would also get market share from the Microsoft Mobile platform too. All this if the price is right
 

starryman

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Last year I bought two pre-G iPhones. Replacement for my Motorola Q through Verizon. Within a week I knew the iPhone was not the phone for me. Suffice to say, my wife and I missed the tactile feel of a keyboard and some fast buttons to the phone and application functions. BUT the Motorola Q was/is extremely slow and no touch screen. So I returned the iPhone with some regrets because it was cool but the slow pre-G connection to the web was terrible and of course not tactile buttons. So I went to Sprint and got a Palm Treo 755 and the Palm Centro. My wife liked the smaller Centro. Perfect combo of touch screen and tactile buttons. I'm excited for the Pre... since it's an evolution of touch screen and tactile interface.
 

megamanx00

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Pre has a chance, if they get good apps from good developer relations. Apple shunning developers recently is a great opportunity for Palm, but the question is if they can even remotely take advantage of that without screwing it up ^_^.
 

dougster123

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OK! I can't read any more of this without commenting so . . .

In a stroke of genius Palm created the WebOS – AND instantly gained more developers then all other phones combined !! Think about that for a minute.

Every web developer in the world is now a developer for Palm (I being one). There is no question of 'will they develop for Palm' – because, in a sense, they already are. And, modifying an existing web application to run on the WebOS is like falling off a log. Also, consider that any programs written for the old PalmOS, like on my Treo 650, will run on the Pre WebOS thanks to Motion Apps “Classic” (http://www.motionapps.com/classic/).

It is the WebOS that is going to put Palm back on the map, not just the Pre.
 

dougster123

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Wow! I made my first response before finishing your article. You write very well, but you are in the wrong field; Or, you have an agenda. I subscribed to the newsletter, but will quickly unsubscribe if a see any more of this aggressive ignorance.
 
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