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The Palm Pre, hit or miss?

When palm showed of their new device on the consumer electronics show in january i was very impressed. After viewing the key notes and checking out all new features of the palm pre i could even imagine switching from windows mobile to the new palm device and webOS, because windows mobile has stalled for the past few years, and microsoft wasn’t able to introduce any significant enhancements for their OS.

Palm pre
Palm Pre

The first thing i did was showing off the news and previews to about ten colleagues at work, and the feedback was very clear. Nine out of ten people said, that they would never buy a palm device even before seeing the palm pre, because they immediately thought about palms last devices which were nothing near to competitive. I just couldn’t get them to realise that palm really made a good job this time, so it seems like palm has lost a LOT of consumer trust over those years. I’m wondering why many articles state that palm is still a good name in the business, because i got very contrary reactions. Now i don’t care how good a product sells, and neither should you, as long as the device is good i’m going to buy it. The problem i have with the palm pre comes from my past experiences with potentially great devices, which never archived the success they could have had. To be more precise, i’m talking about the SonyEricsson M600i.

Back then this device seemed like the perfect smartphone for me. It was the slimmest touchscreen phone which was available, had a great display, introduced the new symbian UIQ3.0 and had an innovative keyboard. The last SE device i had before getting the M600i was the P800, which was an incredible well designed smartphone with a big application library. I was very satisfied with it and thought that the M600i will be the perfect successor.

Thats why i bought the M600i and while the hardware wasn’t perfect, it was still quite innovative. The main problem wasn’t the hardware though or the OS, it was the application shortage. Of course i understand that a new OS needs some time to get the app library going, but after 6 months of waiting there wasn’t even a professional task manager available, never mind any today plugins. There were essential apps missing, and SonyEricssons very restrictive 3rd party rules basically killed off any free developer scene. In the end i lost my patience and went back to windows mobile with the new xda neo, because i needed all my favourite today plugins and apps.

So what’s the point of this story? I have the feeling that the palm pre will be a great device which will never unfold it’s full potential. Palm isn’t the big company it once was, and examples like M600i show that even big players like SonyEricsson can’t guarantee a success on the smartphone market. It was announced just recently that there will be support for palm os apps via emulation, therefore there will be a big app market. But let’s be honest, who wants to see those old school apps on the pre? We want new apps which use the features of the new device, not the old stuff again.

Also there are some decisions on palms side, i just don’t understand:

  • 8gb is just not enough storage for a multimedia device like the palm. And the official “reason” why palm prefers the internal storage to storage cards is ridiculous: They claim that the decision to provide only internal storage is due to their believe that external storage cards are not easy to handle. What? If somebody can manage to get their simcard into their device, he will also get it done to place the storage card in the right slot.
  • No macro mode for the cam: i know it might seem unimportant, but in my case the macro mode is the most important feature for cams of business users. Why? Because you can easily take snapshots of business cards, and other informations you quickly want to save without having to type it.
  • There are rumors that vodafone will get the exclusive rights for the pre in germany. So all german users will get a device full of branding…

I really wish the best for palm and their new device, but sadly i have the bad feeling that their best product will arrive a litte too late to the show.