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.
Back 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.