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Pre: Palm's got skills, but will they pay the bills?


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#1 of 32 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 15 2009 - 03:05 AM

My first PDA was a Palm-based Sony Clie, bought six years ago, and I was hooked immediately. I replaced it a year later -- they don't bounce well on asphalt -- with a Palm Zire 72, and it's lasted me five more years. But unfortunately Palm effectively stopped hardware and software development five years ago with the Zire lineup. And compared to the iPhone today, the Palm is cro-magnon. I need a new PDA but there's nothing reasonable for a guy like me. So I wait.

Last summer a friend and Palm advocate (who helped me with my first Palm) told me Palm had a killer new OS coming. I was skeptical, to be kind, having given up on Palm as mostly dead.

But then comes the Pre announcement! First, the introduction webpage shows some promising features, especially ones the iPhone still lacks: copy and paste, system wide search, turn-by-turn GPS, quality camera.

But it's still promises and pixie dust. Then I see the CES demo video. Boy, this is starting to look good. They are definitely trying to take the best of the old Palm concepts and the best of the new iPhone features and advance the whole system for general users. And I'm beginning to be swayed: Palm might have a killer new system. Not an iPhone killer, but hopefully real competition.

The downside is they copied the iPhone's worst trait: locked to a single carrier; Sprint in this case. ((sigh) Hopefully poor ol' Verizon will get a good smartphone someday.)

But this might really be a quality new system from Palm. What do you think about it?

Pre webpage

Palm CES Launch Demo

#2 of 32 OFFLINE   Ted Todorov

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Posted January 15 2009 - 09:45 AM

Until the Pre ships and actually works, it is hard to say anything. Since it is Webkit based the internet browsing experience should be good. But third party Apps will be essentially limited to what the iPhone had before the SDK: interpreted stuff (like JavaScript) running on top of Webkit. Yes some cool stuff can be done that way, but it will be more limited, slower and less powerful that the post SDK iPhone.

IMO so far the only technologically speaking viable competition for the iPhone is Android, but all the current hardware running Android is poor. I don't see Pre attracting too many developers.

Also, since you're a Palm fan, keep in mind that the Pre has nothing in common with prior Palm devices other than the name. No Palm OS software will run on it.
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#3 of 32 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted January 15 2009 - 09:52 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Todorov
But third party Apps will be essentially limited to what the iPhone had before the SDK: interpreted stuff (like JavaScript) running on top of Webkit.
I think they are far more than that: it sounds like they will have access to the hardware and interact with the gesture and notification system. But this is a worry: interpreted code is never as fast as compiled. A gaming machine this is not.

I once was a Palm fan. Not anymore. But this is quite interesting, the need to buy all new programs notwithstanding.

What's exciting, after watching the demo, is that whereas the iPhone is its own interesting beast, the Pre is a PDA through and through.

#4 of 32 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted January 16 2009 - 02:10 AM

Two big strikes for me:
-Sprint only
-Lack of real development environment, um that didnt work out so hot for Apple developers, did it. Don't expect any good games for example. Interpreted/Javascript is a non starter.

Love the replaceable battery and the integrated storage AND add in cards tho. I know why Apple doesnt do those but that doesnt mean I agree. I have little interest in getting a Pre (dumb name) for myself but it will put some pressure on Apple to keep ahead of the pack. Speaking of the dumb name, the name itself seems designed as a self destruct sequence, Pre to what? As soon as something better comes along you are going to want to upgrade to that?

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#5 of 32 OFFLINE   Michael_K_Sr

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Posted January 16 2009 - 03:24 PM

I'm eager to have a look at the Pre. I had Treos for four years and they were real workhorses even if the OS was long in the tooth. And I definitely welcome it being released initially by Sprint. My Treos had superb nationwide coverage under Sprint (and fast EVDO speeds to boot.) AT&T is an abomination that I would dearly love to rid myself of. Just need the right device to replace my iPhone with.

#6 of 32 OFFLINE   Parker Clack

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Posted January 16 2009 - 06:56 PM

I have been using Sprint for years and in the middle of the country it is the best service. I still like CDMA vs GSM anyway as far as service and connection is concerned. I have never had an issue with the phone not connecting due to poor or no service no matter where I go. I will give this new Palm a good looking over when it comes out for sure.

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#7 of 32 OFFLINE   Ted Todorov

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Posted January 17 2009 - 04:19 AM

Fascinating Business week article about iPhone app store development.

In view of the App store announcing their 500 millionth download, most developers are no longer interested in supporting any platform but the iPhone. One quote from the article:
Quote:
This is also the view of Jeff Holden, CEO of Pelago Inc. When he created the social networking company, Jeff—who by the way was a pal of Jeff Bezos at DE Shaw, and was a member of the core team that built Amazon.com—fully intended to follow the conventional wisdom for how to build a sizeable, fast-growing software company: get your apps on as many platforms and devices as possible. But late last year, he crunched the numbers and came to a shocking conclusion: that the 13 million owners of iPhone owners had already downloaded as much software as—are you sitting down—1.1 billion other cell-phone owners. (FYI, he’s assuming that 25% of non-iPhone owners download anything at all, and that they download 2.5 apps on average). Now, using projected Q4 iPhone sales and Apple’s new download data, 17 million iPhone owners have downloaded as much software at 1.6 billion other cellphone owners! “Why would I ever build for anything but the iPhone,” he says.

This of course doesn't even go into how much less painful it is to develop and distribute for the iPhone vs. other platforms where you have to make deals with individual carriers as well as using inferior development tools and APIs, multiple incompatible hardware, etc.
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#8 of 32 OFFLINE   ErichH

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Posted January 19 2009 - 06:37 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Todorov
Fascinating Business week article about iPhone app store development.

In view of the App store announcing their 500 millionth download, most developers are no longer interested in supporting any platform but the iPhone. One quote from the article:

This of course doesn't even go into how much less painful it is to develop and distribute for the iPhone vs. other platforms where you have to make deals with individual carriers as well as using inferior development tools and APIs, multiple incompatible hardware, etc.

It is interesting. I must say, I've always considered a fart funny, but until now never dreamed it would generate money. Farts.com gave it their best, but little did they know - IPhone Apps: iPhone App Store Hits 500 Million Downloads, We Break Down the Numbers

Love this chart and agree with the 1% assertion

#9 of 32 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted May 30 2009 - 03:07 AM

I'm seeing positive pre-release info on the Pre.
Boy Genius loves initial experience
All Things D has appealing demo
Palm Pre connects to iTunes for music management
Verizon will have Pre, maybe this year?


It's that last bit, that Verizon will have the Pre, that's most interesting to me. The iPhone, for all its greatness, is still only on AT&T and is likely to be locked there for two more years. The Pre could be on the largest carrier by next year and be available to a far larger market than the iPhone soon. And there's no reason to think it wouldn't also be on AT&T shortly.

If the Pre is competent, it could tap into the market that wants an iPhone but won't switch to AT&T. A market that I think is is large; I think there's a lot of people like me that are late adopters, want an iPhone-like device (not a sucky Blackberry Storm) but are not going to switch to AT&T for it. If the Pre gets a piece of that, it could be reasonably successful.

Six months ago, I thought Palm a dinosour refusing to admit its own extinction. Now, I'm excited about the Pre and looking forward to the release reviews.

#10 of 32 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted May 30 2009 - 04:26 PM

I still think Palm is dead man walking and Pre doomed itself by launching on Sprint.

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#11 of 32 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted June 03 2009 - 02:20 PM

Reviews are rolling in. On the whole, positive comments. We'll see if they actually sell any. It's going to be interesting seeing, for the first time (?), a competent iPhone competitor, and not a half-baked touch interface smashed onto 10-year old technology (Storm). Better, the Pre has different design goals than the iPhone. I hope it succeeds. This might be my wife's next phone.

David Pogue at NYT
Quote:
The Pre, which goes on sale Saturday, is an elegant, joyous, multitouch smartphone; it’s the iPhone remixed.
...
So do the Pre’s perks (beautiful hardware and software, compact size, keyboard, swappable battery, flash, multitasking, calendar consolidation) outweigh its weak spots (battery life, occasional sluggishness, ringer volume)?
Oh, yes indeedy. Especially when you consider that Verizon Wireless has announced that it will carry the Pre “in the next six months or so.”

Walt Mossberg
Quote:
I’ve been testing the Pre for a couple of weeks, and I like it a lot, despite some important drawbacks that will have to be remedied.


#12 of 32 OFFLINE   Ted Todorov

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Posted June 04 2009 - 12:38 AM

Definitely sounds like it has potential. Unfortunately we have another BB Storm on our hands -- launched prematurely due to efforts to beat an arbitrary deadline (in this case the iPhone 3.0 launch):

Mossberg:
Quote:
In fact, during my testing, one of my downloads from the App Catalog caused my Pre to crash disastrously — all my email, contacts and other data were wiped out, and the phone was unable to connect to the Sprint network or Wi-Fi. Palm conceded the catastrophe was due to problems it still has getting the App Catalog to work with the phone’s internal memory, and explained that this is one reason it hasn’t widely distributed the developer tools.

There have been how many official reviews out -- five? So 20% of the time disaster occurs. Imagine the reaction when at least 20% of early buyer hit this bug (I say at least, because they don't send back their phones after a few days the way reviewers do, they keep using them).

What's more the, whole disaster may have been avoided by not offering ANY apps at release, and simply promising an App Store later. By insisting on the "see, we have an app store too" checkbox, Palm may have written their death sentence.
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#13 of 32 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted June 05 2009 - 06:19 AM

Likely to fail:
Palm: Likely to Stumble with Pre - BusinessWeek

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#14 of 32 OFFLINE   Shane D

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Posted June 05 2009 - 06:47 AM

i've not read this entire thread, but has anyone mentioned that on ars they are saying that the itunes compatiblity is from a hacked driver making it look like a ipod to itunes?

#15 of 32 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted June 05 2009 - 07:25 AM

Yes. Hackity hack hack. And likely to cause apples ire but not technically illegal.

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#16 of 32 OFFLINE   Ted Todorov

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Posted June 05 2009 - 07:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
Yes. Hackity hack hack. And likely to cause apples ire but not technically illegal.
Perfectly legal, and also supremely easy for Apple to break in 8.2.1 (see Daring Fireball for the details).

Not smart on Palm's part. What do they tell all their customers a week from now -- sorry but big bad mean Apple broke it.

Although my guess is Apple won't even bother. Sprint's CEO was just quoted by Appleinsider as saying that Verizon's claim that they will get the Pre in 6 months is lie. Between that and iPhone 3.0 hitting soon, El Jobso's Apple return imminent (see WSJ) I think that the Pre will be forgotten by Tuesday.
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#17 of 32 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted June 05 2009 - 12:42 PM

I just saw the article about Pre's exclusivity with Sprint being longer than six months and groaned a little. If so, I think that's Palm digging their own grave. Is Sprint the least of the three networks?

But, it might be seven months...Sprint doesn't want Verizon customers to think they can just wait a few more months to get the Pre at V. They want network switchers. They also do want a drop in stock price from a minimal exclusivity deal.

It's going to be interesting. The Pre reviews have all been very positive. It has weaknesses, but I think this is no comparison the the Storm. The Storm appears to be a shellacking of Blackberry; a crude touch interface on an old foundation not meant for touch. The Pre, like iPhone, is a from-the-ground-up modern design built for touch; and built well.

#18 of 32 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted June 05 2009 - 12:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
Wow! Can you imagine a company with a nascent new smartphone not wholeheartedly embracing the developer community from day one? That would be disastrous. Palm should take notice from the iPhone's first-year failure.

#19 of 32 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted June 06 2009 - 12:28 AM

The problem that Pre is going to have is that the iPhone 3.0 firmware will address most of the software advantages it currently has over the iPhone ("cut-and-paste, multi-tasking, and so forth); while the new next-generation "iPhone Video" (available in July) will address most of the hardware advantages (better camera,"turn-by-turn" enhanced GPS features, and so on). The only advantage that the Pre will be left with after the launch of the 'iPhone Video" will be the integrated physical keyboard.

Add to all of that the fact that the iPhone currently has an application library that numbers around 35,000 compared to the Pre's dozen, and it just doesn't seem likely that the Pre will have much of a chance in the marketplace.

The Pre needed to come out in January. Launching within days of a new firmware release for the iPhone and within a month of a next-generation iPhone -- while locking the carrier to Sprint for the first six months -- was suicide for the device.
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#20 of 32 ONLINE   DaveF

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Posted June 06 2009 - 01:30 AM

Are there any #s on the switcher rate for the iPhone? I think the analyses I've read ignore, wrongfully, phone company lock-in.

What's with Verizon? How has it missed both of the significant new phones? Are they intentionally trying to destroy carrier lock-in?

Every analysis compares iPhone & Pre to the Blackberry. Does anyone buy a Blackberry for personal use? I've never seen a BlackBerry bought except on corporate dollars. iPhone and Pre are currently not "corporate" phones; it seems pointless to compare them to the Blackberry (and vice versa) as they have totally different audiences.


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