Palm is back in the game with the Pre!

Palm PreThe ads that accompanies the original iPhone drove me crazy. They were talking about it like it was something new, when I'd had the same basic functionality I've had on my Treo since 2002 (before the iPod even had USB or color). Sure, it wasn't as pretty as the iPhone, but it was functional as all hell and much, much easier to use (physical keyboard, customizable buttons, copy/paste, etc).

But over the past two years I had been getting nervous. While Apple and Blackberry were continuing to innovate on their phones, and application developers bent over backwards to make snazzy toys for the iPhone, the Palm OS and accompanying hardware just stagnated. You'd get a slightly faster connection in a new model, and some buttons moved around, but nothing worth writing home about.

I was beginning to fear that I would eventually have to break down and get an iPhone in another year or two when my Treo gave up the ghost. Which wouldn't be that bad if they came out with an iPhone with a slide-out physical keyboard. And copy/paste. But the chances of that, I think, are pretty slim as long as Steve Jobs is running the show.

But this week, my faith in Palm has been restored. At CES, they gave a preview of their new phone, called the Palm Pre, and their new Linux-based operating system, called Web OS. It's a damned sexy phone, both physically and beneath the hood.

It does all the basics, plus integrating calendars/contacts from multiple sources, allowing you to run multiple apps at the same time, wireless charger, and has what looks like the ideal balance between touch-screen goodness and slide-out physical keyboard.

For the first time in ages, I'm actually looking forward to upgrading my phone. Yay!

13 Comments:

  1. that phone looks pretty cool! i really liked my old palm and if i had seen this before i got my htc fuze, i would have had a harder decision to make.

    all in all, i’m happy with my phone. i really love the full, horizontal, slide out keyboard. now gotta do some tweaks…

  2. My whole complete issue with phone and PDA shopping is the effing network limitations!

    I want out of ATT, but love the iPhone; I don’t like Sprint, but damn if that isn’t a gorgeous looking Palm.

    I hate cellular contracts.

        • Considering all the buzz they’re getting, I really hope it comes out before the end of Q1. Otherwise they’ll miss the opportunity to capitalize on the excitement.

          • I fully agree with you.

            BUT

            Welcome to the horrors of the mobile phone industry.
            The FCC has a very long (~6mo) approval process.
            Submissions to the FCC are public.
            This is one of the reasons the iPhone was released 6months after it was announced – Apple didn’t want the announcement ruined by blogs reporting on the FCC filings.
            Said filings are often how industry blogs get their advance notice for new handsets coming to the states (or not).
            And the Pre hasn’t been submitted yet.

            On a positive note, the delay didn’t hurt iPhone sales. :P

            • Good point.

              On the other hand, the phone itself being delayed might not be that bad as long as the SDK and test bed are released early and evangelized hard. Most of the people I know who are in love with their iPhones are really more in love with the apps they can get than the phone itself. We were talking to a girl at the farmers market today and she was rattling off apps like UrbanSpoon as examples of why she was looking forward to replacing her Treo with an iPhone.

              As long as they make the apps easy to build and court the developers of a lot of the popular iPhone apps to make Web OS versions as well, they should be able to really impress folks once the handset comes out.

              Which is why they need to hire me to help make that happen. And yes, I’m working on that… :)

              • Totally agree.
                This is a huge chance for Palm to take the time and do things right.
                And yes, that’s why I love my iPhone (hacked apps, but same thing)

                Hire you – genius.

                Here’s one thing I don’t get about all the iphone competitors out there:
                iphone – literally hundreds of thousands of apps.
                them – starting at zero
                hardware – similar on each platform

                so WHY aren’t they making app conversion software??
                Hell, I’d go so far as to blame Google/Palm/Blackberry/WiMo for not releasing iPhone emulation software, then just asking iphone app makers to send their apps over!
                (obviously this wouldn’t work with some apps – multi-touch specific, etc. but tons of awesome apps don’t need multitouch. And hacked apps (essentially a group of the best iphone apps) are written in Linux.)

  3. The thing I’m dying to know is if it’s going to be backwards compatible with all of my beloved Palm apps that I really really don’t want to give up. If it is, I’ll get one in a heartbeat.

    • Latest indication is that no, old apps will not run on the new OS. Which makes sense, considering that the difference between PalmOS and WebOS is analogous to DOS vs OS-X.

      However, Palm’s massive developer community has always been one of its main strengths, and it looks like the SDK for making Web OS apps is going to be pretty easy to use. Add to that the opportunity for developers to make a whole new batch of cash providing shiny new WebOS versions of their apps through the app store that must inevitably be in the works, and there’s every likelihood that your old Palm apps will be replaced with sexier versions of themselves. Plus all those iPhone app developers will probably port their apps over to WebOS as well.

      Out of curiosity, which Palm apps are you most interested in keeping? And which iPhone apps do you see other people playing with that you wish you had on your Pre? I have an interview with Palm on Friday, so it’ll be nice to have a little real-world user input to bring in with me.

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