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Why I’ll Try to Buy a Palm Pre Tomorrow

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If there are supplies at my local Sprint store, I'll be the owner of a new Palm Pre on tomorrow morning. With Sprint pricing it at $199 (after a $100 mail-in rebate and a renewing of contract for two years), it's a decision that I didn't even have to think about. I buy a new cell phone about every 3 years, so cost of the upgrade isn't much of a financial decision for me. It becomes even less of one when you consider that I can sell my previous Treo on eBay for a few dollars.

The Palm Pre is being billed as the best competitor to the Apple iPhone. Almost everyone agrees that Apple iPhone is the best cell phone you can buy today... so that begs the obvious question, "Why not just get an Apple iPhone?" For me, some of it is design, and some of it is price.

  • The iPhone is only available on AT&T - My wife is on Sprint (as well as myself) and the free network to network calling saves me money. And while the Palm Pre is only on Sprint, Palm has a history of working with other networks. There are rumors of a Pre being on Verizon by the end of the year... and
  • The iPhone's plans are expensive - Also, I've been with Sprint so long that I get every add-on they offer for around $50 month. The equivalent AT&T plan is $90. Cnet's Rick Broida also says that the iPhone plans are too expensive. That $90 gets you nights and weekends starting at 9PM instead of 7PM. That's big because I have some friends who I can call on the east coast from 10PM-11PM. I'm sure that calling them at midnight would be pushing it.
  • The iPhone lacks a keyboard - I will never be able to touch type on a glass screen. I've never seen anyone type with one-hand on the iPhone either. This aspect alone represents a major for me to not go with an iPhone.

Here are some of the features that makes the Palm Pre exciting:

  • Multitasking - I can have 5 browser windows at any one time?!?! I can get driving directions while I'm streaming music over Pandora. Sweet! I know that Windows Mobile has multitasking as well, but I never found it usable on my Dell Axim.
  • WebOS - I know that Apple has a huge headstart with applications. I think the Palm Pre will catch up since development should be easier than on the iPhone. The Pre uses web technologies - things that many, many developers already know - the learning curve is not steep at all. Also, the Palm Pre will run a lot of previous Palm applications through a third-party emulator. Over the years, there are probably hundreds of thousand of Palm applications.
  • Synergy - Synergy is supposed combine and simplify your web-presences. So your Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar can live together and always be in sync. Ditto with your contacts (and add Facebook into the mix there). I'm curious how this is going to work in practice. I wonder if they took into account people like me who have a regular identity and a secret one.
  • The Keyboard - One of the reasons not to get the iPhone is one to get the Pre. Reviews of it aren't great, but every one of them says it's much, much easier than typing on an iPhone.
  • The Camera - I've started to use camera phones a little more... mostly to send on pictures of my dog to my wife when she's working on the road. Reviews say that the Pre has the best camera of any smart phone. It has a LED flash and takes pictures instantly - doing the post processing in the multitasking background. Oh and it's 3.2 megapixels for those that crave the MP number.
  • The Music Software - Plug in a Palm Pre and it tricks iTunes into thinking that it is an iPod. I've always thought that iPods have had a bit of a monopoly and don't play well with others. In my opinion it's a good thing that Palm is challenging the status quo.
  • The Apple iPhone has some of those features plus many additional ones... and two days after the Pre comes out Apple is expected to announce a big update to the iPhone. However, it still comes down to price and my complaint there isn't as much with Apple as much as it is about AT&T (well and Apple's exclusive agreement with them).

    I'm not the only one who is enthralled by what the Palm Pre represents. Many of the biggest names in technology agree that for the first time since it came out, the iPhone has a competitor:

    • Associate Press: Dazzling Palm Software beats the iPhone - Title says it all.
    • PC Magazine - Palm Pre Feature Face-Off - "The Palm Pre is the sexiest handset since the iPhone"”and it also marks the dawn of a major new smartphone platform."
    • PC World: Palm Pre Review - "the Palm Pre made a solid impression on me. Its eye-catching design and smooth operation make this smartphone the most exciting device I've seen in a while."
    • USA Today: Pre could pilot Palm to smartphone glory again - "The first Palm Pre will certainly give the iPhone and other rivals a run for their money."
    • Gizmodo: Palm Pre Review - "Impressive start to an OS that should form the base of some quality phones in the future"
    • SlashGear: Palm Pre Review - "[Palm has] delivered a smartphone not only capable but honestly impressive and distinctive... we'd readily recommend the Palm Pre."
    • CNET: Palm Pre Review - "Palm has developed a solid OS that not only rivals the competition but also sets a new standard in the way smartphones handle tasks and manage information."
    • Palm InfoCenter: Palm Pre Review - Can't get much more biased, but "The Palm Pre delivers on Palm's promise of a bringing a next generation differentiated product to market. WebOS is a powerful and compelling new mobile platform. Despite being a 1.0 product, the Pre is pleasantly functional and it users in new level of simplicity and ease of use. Coupled with the attractive hardware design and charming display, this adds up to a distinctively agreeable experience for mobile phone users. Palm has a lot ridding on the Pre and it now appears to be fully back in the game with a superb combination of software and hardware."
    • Information Week: Video Palm Pre Review - I hate websites that include video without some kind of translation - especially when I'm trying to pull out a "quotebite". And now I'm just sad to learn that I didn't coin the word "quotebite."
    • Engadget: Palm Pre Review - "Some of the ideas and concepts at play in webOS are truly revolutionary for the mobile space, breaking down lots of the walls that separate the experience of using a dedicated PC versus using a handheld device... To put it simply, the Pre is a great phone, and we don't feel any hesitation saying that... Just like the iPhone's notches up the ladder, and the G1's contributions, the Pre moves the game forward in a very real way."
    • WSJ.com: Palm Pre Takes On iPhone - "All in all, I believe the Pre is a smart, sophisticated product that will have particular appeal for those who want a physical keyboard. It is thoughtfully designed, works well and could give the iPhone and BlackBerry strong competition..."
    • New York Times: Palm Pre Review - "... Especially when you consider that Verizon Wireless has announced that it will carry the Pre 'in the next six months or so.' Can you imagine how great that will be? One of the world's best phones [Palm Pre] on the nation's best cell network [Verizon]?"

    Last updated on August 1, 2011.

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    18 Responses to “Why I’ll Try to Buy a Palm Pre Tomorrow”

    1. I haven’t looked into the issue a great deal, but don’t be terribly surprised if Apple finds a way to block the Pre from syncing with iTunes.

      How is there a monopoly with iPods? There are plenty of choices for software that controls your music collection – you’re not forced to use iTunes and the tight iPod integration :)

    2. Kim says:

      I am looking forwarding to reading your review of the Pre. I have the Palm Centro which I can’t live without so I am not sure if I am ready for a Pre upgrade.

    3. Lazy Man says:

      I’m sure that Apple can block the Pre (in fact, sites have already explained how), the question is whether they will. Plus, I could just stick with iTunes 8.2, which is proven to work and not upgrade. That would be fine with me since I don’t use iTunes now…

      … except to marvel at slow it can make a computer.

      If Windows could be thought of as a monopoly (it control what software ran on it), couldn’t the iTunes be considered one if it starts to block competition.

      Palm isn’t looking for an advantage here, they just don’t want to be at a disadvantage.

    4. bubba says:

      Typing on the iPhone is easy, even with one hand. And if you hack it, you can get alternative keyboards which aid in helping usability. I wouldn’t trade mine for the world. It also helps that works fits the bill for it since I swapped it for my Blackberry.

      Shouldn’t you be paying off loans instead of buying phones? :)

    5. Lazy Man says:

      What loans might you be referring to bubba?

    6. Jeremy says:

      The Pre looks pretty cool, but in the end it’s still just a Palm ;)

    7. kosmo says:

      “If Windows could be thought of as a monopoly (it control what software ran on it), couldn’t the iTunes be considered one if it starts to block competition.”

      How’s that? Essentially, the iTunes/iPod interactivity is iTunes acting as a hardware driver. Most software drivers only work with hardware from that vendor. Does HP need to make sure that my printer driver will work with a Lexmark?

      Also, the fact that there are a zillion viable competitors to iTunes makes it hard to claim a monopoly. For example, you have managed to evade the “monopoly”, so you don’t use it.

      You’re grossly oversimplifying the MS case. If it was just that one issue, they would have been OK.

      :)

    8. companies are wasting time trying to compete with the iphone…

      eventually they will surpass every RIMM product…give it time…

      and wait til the new OS and new phone come out…

      i really dont understand trying to compete…try something completely different or stay behind the curve

    9. kosmo says:

      There’s also this … suppose iTunes fries the Pre during an update. This wouldn’t be their fault, since you’d be violating the license agreement, but some people would sue. But Apple would save a big headache by just blocking everything but iPod, so avoid weird crap from happening. I doubt it would happen with Pre, since Palm probably tests a lot (although if iTunes got an update tomorrow, you’d be “naked” until Palm could test with the new version.)

      But I could imagine a problem with products from some of the lower end vendors.

    10. Lazy Man says:

      I can’t see iTunes as a driver for iPod. I had used iTunes before I got an iPod. I can’t imagine using HP drivers without a printer. iTunes was designed to manage music – not solely to upload music to iPod.

      I don’t really get the iTunes frying a Pre. If I plug in my old Treo, what if iTunes fries that? Under no circumstances should iTunes fry anything. Apple would probably love it if iTunes fired a Pre. They’d be more than happy to redirect that lawsuit to Palm.

      Apple can’t really come out of this looking good, and I think that’s the point. If they block the Pre, they have to come up with a reason why they are hurting consumers without it sounding greedy. If they let it go, they potentially put themselves in a worse position.

    11. Lazy Man says:

      Gloomberg,

      I think there’s something to be said to having a device that is similar, but better. For instance Palm came out with a Windows Mobile device or two and it was trying to compete with other Windows Mobile devices.

      The Palm Pre is different enough from an iPhone (gestures, webOS, Synergy, etc.) to qualify as “completely different”, I think. However, it also should compete because they are similar devices (smart phones that offer a lot more than the calling experience – web, apps, e-mail, etc.

    12. kosmo says:

      I didn’t say that iTunes was a driver – I said that the iTunes/iPod interactivity was the driver.

      I’m sure that Apple would be happy to redirect the lawsuit … but the PR damage would be done. Frying isn’t likely, but something like accidental deletion of data is.

      Honestly, though, they don’t need to actively block it – there are other ways to skin that cat.

    13. Lazy Man says:

      So how does Palm get iTunes/Palm Pre interactivity? Pretty much anyway you cut it, the music domination of the iPod gives the iPhone an advantage.

    14. kosmo says:

      Well, Palm could write their own desktop software :) It doesn’t actually need to interact with iTunes. I like iTunes, but there’s really nothing particularly revolutionary about it – it simply ties together a few pieces of functionality. They could even add the ability to import iTunes library to their own software.

      Thus, the barrier to entry (another big test of monopoly) is really quite low.

    15. My Journey says:

      Are you out of contract? I Have sprint also and would love to upgrade…know any hints to get the upgrade and money off?

    16. Lazy Man says:

      My Journey,

      I was out of contract… for quite some time now. I’ve been waiting for a decent upgrade to the Treo 700P. There may be some tips on my article about saving money on cell phones.

    17. Mobile Developer says:

      It is probably way too early to know much about the webOS versus any other mobile operating system. The reviews on the hardware of the Pre have not been very good. I went to the local Sprint store and was impressed with webOS, but the keyboard was the deal breaker for me. The top row of keys are simply too close to the edge of the device making it very difficult to type. The idea is good, but windows mobile is still the stongest competitor in my mind and with partners like HTC and others they will be tough to catch.

    18. Bangin Beatz says:

      4 years to the day since the last comment…Haha

      I have the Samsung GS 2…Looking to upgrade to that GS 4 pretty soon!

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