Bridging the Apple Community and Keeping Tabs on the Rumor Mill.

The Palm Pre: Hope or Hype?

Let's cut around the hype and get to the point. I'm hounding the release of the Palm Pre the same way I hounded the iPhone from January 2007 until that historic day in June. Maybe not with the same passion and intensity, but I'm definitely checking in on a daily basis to see what's going on in with the Palm Pre. When this product drops, it better be worth the hype.

preBack in January, when Palm first revealed the Pre to the masses, I said that Apple should take notice of the device, especially since the entire project was being spearheaded by ex-Apple handyman Jon Rubinstein.

Let's face it, this is Palm's last chance. The company is pretty much dead in the water and if the Pre doesn't live up to all the hype surrounding webOS, it will be a major disappointment. Not only for Palm's wacky investors, but for consumers and the mobile industry in general. At the moment, Apple's iPhone has absolutely no competition, and with the Pre, Palm is hoping that will change, and so am I.

When patent lawsuit rumors were getting heated between Apple and Palm, I wrote the following, "Instead of lawsuits, we’d like to see this settled with the separation of proprietary technology. But for that to happen, Palm needs to reveal how its multi-touch interface and operating system function. If that technology impedes on Apple’s patents, Palm might need a plan B." This coupled with the rest of the obstacles standing squarely in Palm's way don't make for a very positive outlook.

If the mobile industry keeps chugging along without any real competition, Apple will be able to take its sweet time releasing software and hardware upgrades, not to mention giving the users core features like copy-and-paste, which is coming in iPhone OS 3.0... finally. But even if Palm has enough mojo to make Apple reconsider, or rethink their software/hardware releases, there's one thing Palm simply won't be able to compete with. A little neighborhood shop they call the App Store, which just demolished the 1 billion downloads milestone.

The Palm Pre has an incredibly steep hill to climb. And along the way things will only get worse for both Palm, and Sprint. Which is sad considering the extremely poor state both companies are currently in. Palm's investors simply won't be able to keep floating the company hundreds of millions of dollars. And when getting into complex mobile innovation, we're talking about billions spent in research and development, emulating network environments and stress testing against millions of users. There's just no way for them to compete against Apple, who at this point has around $30 billion debt free and growing.

Assuming people actually buy the Palm Pre, begin loving it, developers leave the iPhone platform and flock to Palm's Mojo SDK framework, and Palm gets through the undeniable bugs, mobile carrier pitfalls, and gross outcry from consumers about whatever issues the masses choose, they still have to compete with Apple. Who, as CEO Steve Jobs put it, "is at least 5 years ahead of the curve." However, when compared to Palm, Apple seems more like 10 or 15 years ahead of the curve. And putting Apple in an even better situation, the Palm Pre is the iPhone's only real competition for the foreseeable future.

18 Responses »

  1. you should write more dude.

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    TB @ May 5th, 2009 at 8:48 am
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    i agree :)

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  2. oh, and I'm definitely buying a Pre. we'll see about the pricing within a few weeks.

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  3. WOW, seems like you are worried big time. Palm's UI makes the iPhone look dated.

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  4. @miles: Worried? Not so much... I'm more anxious to get one and actually fricking use the thing. It looks like it could be the first actual iPhone competition... But still, Palm has so many different obstacles standing in their way. It's going to be one hell of an uphill battle.

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  5. "Hype or hope"

    It's both. Palm hopes they can hype the Pre enough that somebody will throw a big wad of cash at them to buy the company.

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  6. After I re-read my own article... It leaves me with the following impression...

    "Palm's screwed"

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  7. didn't they say the same thing about apple before the iphone came out,
    "there screwed".
    it seems you are all worried for nothing, let the PRE come out and we will see what happens, when Apple show's off there new product in June, my guess Apple will not have a New iphone, they have something else up there sleeve, and more new app's to boot.

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  8. "Assuming people actually buy the Palm Pre, begin loving it".
    That is soooooo stupid, FYI there are many, many people that like/love the Pre already, a stupid fanboy like you would not understand or believe anyway. Troll much?
    BTW; I have and love my Apple notebooks, and own an iPhone 2nd Gen, but the Pre seems to be way better, and AT&T service sucks at best, my friends with Sprint/Nextel have better coverage and better service, will I get the Pre? I must say YES...and jump ship to a better and cheaper sevice, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  9. Hrm..well I think you put way too much into the patent issue. That's mostly bluster - Palm has no reason to back down and Apple doesn't really want it in court (as shown by the current lawsuit they are under). I completely agree that Apple needs some compeition (this is something I with the fanbois would get a grip on).

    What I think you are missing is that the Pre doesn't have to kill the iPhone (nor is it going to). That's irrelevant. All it has to do is sell well enough to keep Palm and Sprint alive - I think it has a very good chance of doing this. It's actually Sprint that I wonder about - the Pre will be on other carriers come 2010 and that's going to hurt Sprint. There are enough Apple/AT&T 'non-likers' (I'm one of them) that there's plenty of niche to fill. As far as the Apple store...meh. Again, the Pre doesn't have to crush Apple to succeed.

    You have (not suprisingly given the lean of the site) geared your most of your article towards the Pre vs the iPhone. That's just a fanboi issue - not everyone in the world wants an iPhone. The only relevant item is will the Pre live up to the hype.

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  10. I agree with Nick. This fanboi stuff is out of control. Palm just needs to produce a good product, before july, with no significant launch issues. Which I think is very possible given the amount of time they've been working on it. They need to run they're own game. I think its articles like these that are actually driving an iphone revolt.

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    Steve @ May 5th, 2009 at 2:43 pm
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    "Palm just needs to produce a good product, before july, with no significant launch issues."

    Does Palm have a track record of being able to pull this sort of thing off with relatively few bugs? I ask because I don't know much about Palm in the last few years. They'll probably do ok, and maybe offer some competition for Apple, but I wonder if it'll be enough. Although the iPhone has become huge for Apple, they have other revenue streams that Palm just doesn't have. And Palm is not in a position of strength when negotiating with Sprint, so they probably won't get as lucrative a deal as Apple is with AT&T.

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    Steve @ May 5th, 2009 at 2:44 pm
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    Oh, and one last point, the time spent on the Pre is pointless mentioning. MS worked on Vista for what, 4+ years and it sucked when it came out. Apple worked on the iPhone for 2 yrs and it's a runaway hit. Time doesn't make up for lack of ability.

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  11. Here's the skinny on my decision between Pre or iPhone. I'm locked into an already existing contract with Sprint until June 2010. Now, I can spend about 300 or so when the Pre comes out and stay with Sprint, or pay $200 to quit Sprint, pay $200 or $300 for current gen iPhone or say even $400 or more when the 3.0 comes out. And who even knows when the new iPhone will come out.

    Pre it is for me. I'll have a better (and cheaper monthly unlimited plan), a phone I can insure and not have to change carriers.

    I mean, how many people are really going to pay early term fee or MSRP for phones without a contract just for an iPhone or Pre?

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  12. A few people in this discussion thread seem to be missing the point. "I’m hounding the release of the Palm Pre the same way I hounded the iPhone", and I can't wait to buy one, sign up for service and put it through its paces.

    Even still, Palm is dead in the water. They owe hundreds of millions of dollars, and when battling uphill with the Pre vs. the iPhone, they are relatively screwed. I think I heard someone say "the Pre's UI is better than the iPhone's" -- I'm going to ignore this, because I know for a fact you've never held one, let alone turned it on and used it.

    The real comparisons will be done when I've used both the Palm Pre and the iPhone for an extended period of time... Until then, I'm sorry to say, the Pre is nothing but hype.

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  13. Owww, come on, Aviv! You say "If the mobile industry keeps chugging along without any real competition...." The industry had all the competition it could stand, and it still did not further it to any appreciable extent, content to linger within the eddy current of OKness. The industry needed competition. It go it. It's Apple. Apple is the competition. The industry has real competition now, which abundantly weakens your point that there is no "real competition."

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  14. @John: Your argument is flawed my friend... Apple is the ONLY player in the mobile industry. They have NO real competition. If you trying telling me RIM is something they should be worried about... just please don't... All they make are blackberries.

    Am I the only one who is thinking about the App Store? Do you know how many iPhones Apple sells because the App Store is so desirable to EVERYONE. Other companies cannot compete with it. Bottom line.

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  15. My dear little friend Aviv.... See, I can talk down to you even more. But why should I. I take the high road; I do not need to talk down to anyone.

    On topic...while I also think that Apple is the only player now, i would modify that sentiment by saying that it's the only significant player, and why I nearly agree with you that it has no significant competition now, my point is that it itself became the competition to the mobile phone industry and, as such, is the alternative to the stodgy and limited technology that it seems to be displacing, and it remains the competition in this context.

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