Palm is hoping to get back on track with its new Pre touch phone, which comes equipped with the equally new operating system webOS, both announced on Thursday at the Consumer Electronics Show.
The phone doesn't just use touch; it also comes with a QWERTY keyboard that slides out from the bottom of the phone ... Palm couldn't resist taking a couple jabs at [the] market leader ... Just using a "cheesy virtual keyboard" doesn't cut it, said Jon Rubinstein, executive chairman at Palm, in a direct dig at his former employer Apple ... The executives also highlighted the fact that the Pre battery can be removed, unlike the iPhone battery.
Pricing for the Pre hasn't been announced ... The phone will start shipping during the first half of 2009.
The new-ness is underway, and Palm just debuted its long(est) awaited all-new handset, the Palm Pre. The curvy touchscreen handset has a 3.1-inch 320 x 480 multitouch display, with a silver center button down below and touch sensitivity all down the face -- the lower part is for "gestures." A full QWERTY keyboard slides out from the phone in a portrait orientation, and you can flip the phone on its side for accelerometer-sensed widescreen browsing.
The phone is running Palm's all-new webOS platform, with TI's new OMAP CPU under the hood -- which Palm claims provides laptop-style power, and which juices the phone's smooth transitions, scrolling and "deck of cards" app-switching.
Other internal specs include EV-DO Rev. A, 802.11b/g WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth with A2DP and 8GB of built-in flash storage. There's a 3 megapixel camera with LED flash, mass storage-friendly microUSB plug and a good ol' 3.5mm headphone jack, but most exciting is the wireless charger -- a first for a mainstream phone.
Wow, as an 'Apple Guy' CES has always taken a back seat to Macworld. But not this year. This year I can't keep my eyes off of CES. So many innovative products are coming out while the luster of the 17-inch Unibody MacBook wore off almost instantly.
Palm's Pre seems like one of the first worthy competitors to the iPhone (until you throw in the Sprint factor).
This was Apple's last year at Macworld ... At this point it hardly matters, I could care less.
Palm's pre looks...pretty, pretty....pretty good. The Web OS, seems like it is going in the right direction. A2DP Bluetooth. Removable battery. TI's latest OMAP CPU (Cortex? - this is the thing Archos is putting in its media players)
Sprint? Well. They are the "launch partner".
I was expecting to watch the death of a company. Palm? Give me a break. It would NEVER do anything interesting and Nokia, Microsoft, RIM, and expecially Apple were about to kick it into the deathbin of history. I was wrong. WAY WAY WAY wrong.
Palm just did what Nokia and Microsoft and RIM couldnt do: deliver a better experience than Steve Jobs did ... Nokias devices that I saw last month just suddenly seem so lame.
Palm has a real winner here. It shows that you can never count a company out. Even one that looks like its already out of the game.
The real trick will be ... generating iSize lust and devotion, but thats what Palm needs if it hopes to climb out of fourth place.
Even if its market share has dropped from its pioneering days, Palm still has a lot of fans rooting for a comeback, and today was as auspicious a start as they could hope for.
The device looks very impressive and the OS looks exceptional, and neither is an iPhone knockoff. Its very dangerous to get too excited about a product based on a demo ... but this is by far the most impressive Palm demo Ive seen since I first saw the original PalmPilot in 1995. If the Pre lives up to its unveiling today, its not hard to imagine being a huge hit and the beginning of a mobile platform that matters as much as the original Palm OS did in its day.
The biggest unknown is price, which went unmentioned during the demo. My assumption is that Palm ... would try to take market share by coming in significantly lower than the $200 or so Apple wants for its iPhone. But when I ran that theory by Palm CEO Ed Colligan, he looked at me liked Id peed on his rug. Why would we do that when we have a significantly better product, he asked, then walked away.
Translation: Bargain hunters are going to be disappointed.