Palm Pre: Doubters, Haters & Dreamers

Posted by Zealot on Jan 12, 2009

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palm-pre-sprint The streamers and confetti at CES have not even been swept up yet and already the harsh wonderland of the blogosphere is hitting Palm’s upcoming touchscreen smartphone and/or savior, the Pre.

First of all some very reasonable doubts are now being raised by the tech press since the initial euphoria of Ed Colligan’s big announcement has passed. In their wake, of course, are the negative brickbats from the hardcore iPhone fans and the hopeful rumors started by the suddenly rejuvenated Palm faithful, who have been waiting so long for this moment.

Doubter, Hater or Dreamer? Not sure which you are yet? Look for some good examples of all three after the jump…

In terms of the doubters, a thought provoking example can be found at NetworkWorld, where Yoni Heisler is considering what threat, if any, the Pre is to the iPhone. As far as the hardware he gives a slight edge to Palm, software a slight edge to Apple. He states (I feel rightly) that the real key will be in developer acceptance and third party app quality and believes (I feel wrongly) that getting developers to create apps for Palm will be a hard sell. Palm still has a strong, loyal developer base still and recent missteps by both Google and Apple in Developer Relations will work to Palm’s favor.

In the end, Heisler sums up his views as follows:

All in all, the Pre looks great and extremely promising, but the iPhone is a freight train plowing through at 300 MPH, and it’s extremely unlikely that the iPhone has anything to worry about.  RIM and Google’s Android on the other hand…

There are no lack of Haters about right now, mainly on iPhone fansites or forums that cater to Apple fans. One of the most extreme (but most literate) I found is Daniel Eran Dilger at RoughlyDrafted who blasts the Pre stem to stern in his article The Emperor’s New Phone. He takes several views which I saw being raised even while the Palm keynote was being liveblogged, such as that the Pre is just another iPhone clone as it has a large touchscreen and is a rectangle with curved corners. He then takes the interesting tack of claiming that Apple is the victim of media bias AGAINST IT, which accounts for the favorable reaction to the Pre.

His article is quite long and makes several good points about concern over the development platform and SDK as well as Palm’s recent corporate history, but they are hard to find amongst the fanboy snark, condescending assumptions about “Palm users” and graceful vitriol. His final paragraphs perfectly sum up his attitude and viewpoint on the issues….

How is Palm going to find any attention for a new mobile software platform in the shadow of the iPhone when RIM’s BlackBerry, Google’s Android partners, Nokia’s Symbian, and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile licensees are already desperately hungry for any remaining market share in the emerging mobile software business that Apple brought to life?

Palm has accomplished step one in defeating Apple: introducing copycat hardware that apes some of the iPhone’s features. Considering the waves of similarly ineffectual iPod-killers that washed up dead on Apple’s shores over the last 7 years, that’s not enough to claim victory.

The real test will come when Palm reveals how well it can execute in copying Apple’s business acumen, marketing savvy, customer support, ongoing software development, security refreshes, and industrial design enhancements. In those areas, Palm’s track record is worse than the American car makers. Perhaps the company should proactively hit up President Bush for a billion dollar bailout before he leaves office.

As easy as it is to find attacks, it is even easier at this point to find rumors about the Pre. Amongst the dreamers I found some interesting rumors translated from the Russian Mobile Review (via Unwired View). According to their sources, the Pre will be priced at $399/$149 or $499/$199 for no-contract/2-year contract. In addition they say that due to a shortage of the irregularly size display, there will only be 200,000 units ready for the Q3/09 release. This is sure to drive up hype and therefore demand.

Regarding later availability of the Pre, they have this to say…

As for the Palm Pre getting to Europe and onto other networks in the U.S., it will all also depend on how Palm Pre is received on Sprint. If there is a huge demand there, only several key European markets will get the new handset and in a very limited volumes as well. And other U.S. operators will have to wait for a while for their own Pre device.

Even though we have yet to see much of the Pre, other rumors are already circulating about Palm’s NEXT step. Palm Infocenter is quoting a source that the next WebOS phone after the Pre will be a budget priced Centro 2.

Whatever your feelings are about the Pre and Palm’s chances at a full revival, you can’t deny that they have certainly stirred things up, and can claim pride of place as THE big story from CES 2009.

Zealot (839 Posts) - Website | Twitter | Facebook


By day a department manager and writer for a major network device vendor...by night Zealot stalks the mean magnetic streets, striking fear into the hearts of bandwidth abusers and theme park mascots. Zealot has been involved with mobile devices for more than a decade now, starting off with dumb phones, moving to PDAs and then to smartphones, notebooks and netbooks with the odd PMP thrown in. Most of his mobile time currently is spent on a Treo Pro, Zune HD, Thinkpad T61, HP Mini 311, iPod Touch 3G, iPad 16G or a Hackintoshed Compaq Mini 704. He proudly groks the Geek community and considers himself a Neo Maxi Zune Dweebie (thanks Wil Wheaton!).

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