Palm surprises with Pre smartphone running new webOS

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Palm, Inc. used this year's Consumer Electronics Show to unveil its iPhone challenger, the Palm Pre, which will run a brand-new operating system called Palm webOS.



With Palm's sales lagging against competition from the Apple iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry, the announcement comes at a critical time for the company.Â* Reaction so far has been positive, withÂ*PC Magazine calling the Pre and its slide-out keyboard "CES 2009's Hottest Product",Â*USA TodayÂ*taking note of "lots of good buzz", andÂ*GizmodoÂ*calling it "simply amazing", to name a few.



"Palm products have always been about simplifying lives and delivering great user experiences," said Palm president and chief executive Ed Colligan.Â* "webOS and Pre bring game-changing simplicity to an increasingly mobile world by dissolving the barriers that surround your information.Â* It's technology that seems like it's thinking ahead to bring you what you care about most - your people, your time, and your information - in the easiest and most seamless way."



The Pre will be available only from Sprint in the "first half of 2009", according to a press release.Â* It will be the first device to run the new mobile operating system.



webOS



According to Palm, webOS is a completely new mobile platform with web technologies CSS, XHTML, and JavaScript under the hood.Â* As a result, it offers a "rich open development environment that's familiar to tens of millions of web developers."



The operating system introduces Palm Synergy, which will collect information from several places into one view.Â* It will have linked contacts, with a smart recognition system that can pull from Outlook, Google, and Facebook accounts, recognizing the same contact across all three to present a single listing instead of three copies of each person.Â* Updating a contact on a webOS device will also update it across your various accounts.







Palm Synergy supports layered calendars and combined messaging.Â* Calendars can be layered in a single view, combining work, family, friends, sports teams, or other interests.Â* You can toggle individual calendars if you like.Â* Combined messaging will take advantage of linked contacts to consolidate all conversations with the same person into a chat-like view, even if it started in IM and you want to reply with a text message.



In a subtle jab at the iPhone, Palm's webOS can run multiple apps at the same time, each one "seamlessly connected to the web and always active."Â* According to Palm, you can instantly flip from one app to another like you would sift through playing cards on a table.



Palm claims an "instinctive" user interface on a multi-touch surface that will make it easy to "flip through a deck of cards and rearrange items simply by dragging them; when you are done with something, just throw it away."Â* The webOS platform has universal search that will narrow down what you're looking for as you type and deliver results from your device and the web.







Notifications and updates are delivered in an unobtrusive way "that's a radical departure from other mobile platforms".Â* Text messages and emails are announced with a scrolling bar at the bottom of the screen that will let you read it right away or later.



Pre



Palm claims the Pre to be the "most integrated and user-friendly phone for mobile users."Â* A large touchscreen is supplemented with a physical keyboard that slides out from the bottom only when needed for email and text messaging, and Palm says the phone has been designed to feel natural in hand and small in pocket.Â* Unlike the iPhone, it has an additional gesture area beneath the screen for navigation so you don't have to touch the screen or obstruct the content being displayed.





"As our lives revolve more and more around the web, devices like Palm Pre that transform how we interact with the web will lead the way," said Sprint chief executive Dan Hesse.Â* "We are focused on bringing our customers a superior experience that includes easy-to-use devices, simple pricing and value with Simply Everything all-inclusive offerings, plus Ready Now, our exclusive retail program that helps customers leave the store feeling comfortable and confident they know how to use their new device."



It will have support for Sprint TV (live and on-demand programming), Sprint Navigation (GPS-enabled audio and visual turn-by-turn directions with one-click traffic rerouting and more than 10 million local listings), and Sprint Radio, with more than 150 channels. Â*



Palm is anticipating a full set of accessories for the phone, including what it calls the first inductive charging solution.Â* If the Pre is set down on top of the Palm Touchstone charging dock, you don't need to connect it.Â* It will charge and remain active for access to the touch screen, watching movies or video, and using the speakerphone.







Several former Apple employees are playing major roles in the evolution of Palm. Â*Jon Rubinstein, who opened the announcement, is Palm'sÂ*executive chairman of the board. Â*Rubinstein was once a key engineer in the creation of the iPod and development of the iMac. Â*He also worked at NeXT. Â*Rubinstein's departure brought others over from Apple in his department, and some common ties exist between the two companies in Palm's PR department. Â*Palm Director of Software Chris McKillop worked on the iPod and iPhone teams as well.



Features

High-speed connectivity (EVDO Rev. A or UMTS HSDPA)

Wi-Fi 802.11b/g

Integrated GPS

3.1-inch touch screen with 24-bit color 320x480 resolution HVGA display

Gesture area beneath the screen, which enables simple gestures for navigation

Slide-out QWERTY keyboard

Email, including Outlook EAS (for access to corporate Microsoft Exchange servers), as well as personal email support (POP3, IMAP)

Messaging support (IM, SMS, MMS)

Desktop-class web browser

3-megapixel camera with LED flash and extended depth of field

Standard 3.5mm headset jack

Support for pictures, video playback, music

Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with A2DP stereo Bluetooth support

8GB of internal user storage

USB mass storage mode

MicroUSB connector with USB 2.0 Hi-Speed

Proximity sensor, disables touch screen and display when near ear

Light sensor, dims the display according to ambient light

Accelerometer, orients web pages and photos to your perspective

Ringer switch, silences device with one touch

Removable, rechargeable battery

Weight: 4.76 ounces (135 grams)

Dimensions: 2.35 inches (w) x 3.96 inches (l, closed) x 0.67 inches (d) [59.57mm (w) x 100.53mm (l, closed) x 16.95mm (d)]

Availability and Pricing



It comes to the United States first from Sprint in the first half of 2009 with a world-ready UTMS version for other regions to follow.Â* Pricing has not been determined, although we do have some indication that Palm won't look to aggressively undercut the iPhone's pricing. Â*



All Things Digital's Peter KafkaÂ*asked chief executive Ed Colligan if the Pre would be priced below $200:



"He looked at me like I'd peed on his rug.Â* 'Why would we do that when we have a significantly better product,' he asked, then walked away."







Analyst Reaction



Wall Street investment firm Needham's Charlie Wolf saw the webOS as a return to Palm's "software roots" and also praised the Pre, writing, "Give credit where credit is due.Â* With its new operating system and smartphone, Palm lives to fight another day."



Wolf sees Palm targeting the mobile phone customer who hasn't yet bought a smartphone but wants one.



"Palm is not going after RIM in email or the iPhone in multimedia," he wrote.



Predicting 1.25 million sales in FY2010, Wolf wrote, "The biggest initial negative is that the Palm Pre will only run on the fast fading Sprint network in the U.S."



He allowed the 1.25 million estimate could be "dramatically" low if other carriers end up selling the phone.



More information about webOS and the Pre is available from Palm.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 209
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,232member
    The iPhone is dooooooooooomed.
  • Reply 2 of 209
    LOL. I'd hardly call the iPhone doomed, but it's nice to have a decent competitor. Windows Mobile phones offer a lot of flexibility, but I know a lot of people who want something that's simple...but not as restrictive as the iPhone. We've even started a community over at SprintPre.net to chat about it.
  • Reply 3 of 209
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,232member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gaines View Post


    LOL. I'd hardly call the iPhone doomed, but it's nice to have a decent competitor. Windows Mobile phones offer a lot of flexibility, but I know a lot of people who want something that's simple...but not as restrictive as the iPhone. We've even started a community over at SprintPre.net to chat about it.



    You know I don't want to give too much credit to Rubinstein but it's hard not to see the influences he may have had.



    ex Apple employees don't always find success but the one thing i've seen recently is that many leave imbued with a sense of "it has to look good AND perform" ethos that is not just Apple but still rare in a "good enough" world.



    I don't want Palm to fold. I'd rather see Palm survive and Windows Mobile hit the reef. Microsoft owns enough of the computing landscape.
  • Reply 4 of 209
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    Palm, WHERE IS THE NEW VERSION OF Palm Desktop for Mac? It has not been updated for a decade, being limited and buggy!!!
  • Reply 5 of 209
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    The iPhone is dooooooooooomed.



    What Apple should have done is really built up the platform by encouraging development and creating an strong ecosystem around the iPhone with thousands of applications and hardware accessories. They should have expanded sales globally, added key enterprise technologies and built iPhone technology into the flagship iPod, therefore exposing the platform to a few million more users.



    Thanks to all these misteps and miscalculations, Apple have left the door right open for Palm to sweep in and steal the iPhone's thunder. The fact Palm are launching their device in such prosperous economic times, when people can easily switch providers and cancel lengthy contracts makes things all the more scary for Apple. They are as you so rightly say: doomed.



    Seriously, the pre looks a very good handset with very good software. But Apple beat them to market by a shade under 24 months. iPhone has brand recognition like very few models on the market.



    Stop thinking cellphone vs cellphone, start thinking platform vs platform.

    Palm has what looks a great cell phone, but they also have an untried, untested platform.

    Apple has a good cell phone, a good platform, good marketing and $25 billion US.
  • Reply 6 of 209
    It certainly looks good.



    I do wonder about the whole javascript/html/css bit. Working at a higher-level like that while developing ostensibly 'native' apps seems... unnecessarily limiting.



    Also, the pitch had a heavy 'business' vibe. It seems they're positioning it more like a blackberry alternative than a consumer-focused device. I'm definitely interested in seeing the rest of the specs and seeing actual devices perform though. Looks like a neat bit of tech.
  • Reply 7 of 209
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    You know I don't want to give too much credit to Rubinstein but it's hard not to see the influences he may have had.



    ex Apple employees don't always find success but the one thing i've seen recently is that many leave imbued with a sense of "it has to look good AND perform" ethos that is not just Apple but still rare in a "good enough" world.



    I don't want Palm to fold. I'd rather see Palm survive and Windows Mobile hit the reef. Microsoft owns enough of the computing landscape.



    More importantly, ex-NeXT employees who work at Palm.
  • Reply 8 of 209
    mactoidmactoid Posts: 112member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx View Post


    Palm, WHERE IS THE NEW VERSION OF Palm Desktop for Mac? It has not been updated for a decade, being limited and buggy!!!



    I'm a former Palm user from as far back as the PalmPilot 1000, and continuing until the T|X. As a Mac user, I'll never buy another one until they update their support for the Mac. Maybe the presence of former Apple employees in the organization will jumpstart that support, but until then I'm very happy with my iPhone (and still have 18 mos on the contract!)
  • Reply 9 of 209
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    So is the webOS really a new name for the BeOS or is this a new OS built off of a Linux distribution?
  • Reply 10 of 209
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dave K. View Post


    So is the webOS really a new name for the BeOS or is this a new OS built off of a Linux distribution?



    Wow, good question.



    It is possibly the BeOS windowing system on top of Linux.



    I watched the Pre video tour. Some observations:



    1. You have to slide the keyboard out to type anything. I found this is very annoying with Android. Apple's software keyboard actually changes depending on the context. For example, if a text field is numeric only, the keyboard only contains number keys. With hardware keyboard, typing some of the stuff (numbers, symbols) is very difficult.



    2. Again about the keyboard - you have to turn to the correct orientation to type. On Android, you have to turn to landscape. With Pre, you have to turn to portrait.



    3. Again about the keyboard. When people have to slide every time they want to type, that's extensive wear on the sliding mechanism. I have doubts on its reliability. iPhone has terrific reliability record and one of the reason is the lack of keyboard.



    4. Speed. From the video tour, the responsiveness is just not there. It looks cool when doing the animations, but not cool when you try to do anything for real. The demonstrator tried six times to show the gesture area.



    5. So the apps will essentially be web apps. Yawn.



    6. Palm is squeeze to Sprint - which is neither GSM nor CDMA, and is way smaller than ATT and Verizon. Basically, it is getting the leftover from Apple, Blackberry and Android.



    7. The phone is simply UGLY.



    8. Attention to details. On iPhone, when you pinch, the zoom level actually stick to your fingers. On "Pre", it zooms but the zoom level seems to be fixed. Basically, it knows that you are pinching, but doesn't know how much.



    9. To do multiple apps running properly, it needs to have more RAM. On iPhone, the application usually has only 24MB of RAM to work with (that's only 3x photos). Running multiple apps would require much more RAM (more expensive, and bigger device) or swapping onto the flash.



    10. A lot of apps are not finished. Photo doesn't rotate according to accelerometer, for example. During the demo, the demonstrator keeps on say "There will be a menu ..... blah blah" for missing features. A lot of things didn't work. She would press a button, expecting something to work, but then have to switch to something else.



    11. Palm and Sprint won't say anything about the pricing and schedule. That means two things - it is going to be expensive, and it is not ready.



    So, I think it is at least one year from reality, and will cost much higher than what people expect. It is quite possibly BeOS windows server over Linux, and it may end up like BeOS - very cool but couldn't find a market.
  • Reply 11 of 209
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by columbus View Post


    What Apple should have done is really built up the platform by encouraging development and creating an strong ecosystem around the iPhone with thousands of applications and hardware accessories. They should have expanded sales globally, added key enterprise technologies and built iPhone technology into the flagship iPod, therefore exposing the platform to a few million more users.



    Thanks to all these misteps and miscalculations, Apple have left the door right open for Palm to sweep in and steal the iPhone's thunder. The fact Palm are launching their device in such prosperous economic times, when people can easily switch providers and cancel lengthy contracts makes things all the more scary for Apple. They are as you so rightly say: doomed.



    Seriously, the pre looks a very good handset with very good software. But Apple beat them to market by a shade under 24 months. iPhone has brand recognition like very few models on the market.



    Stop thinking cellphone vs cellphone, start thinking platform vs platform.

    Palm has what looks a great cell phone, but they also have an untried, untested platform.

    Apple has a good cell phone, a good platform, good marketing and $25 billion US.



    Palm tying it's phone to Sprint is even a bigger mistake than Apple tying itself to at&t. Palm is attacking from a weakened market and consumer perception position.
  • Reply 12 of 209
    slapppyslapppy Posts: 331member
    Well the OS kicks the iPhones ass out of the water. The hardware looks dated, too thick, too small and physical slide out keyboard just adds bulk. It doesn't look sleek or different from all the other clones out there.
  • Reply 13 of 209
    aakaaaka Posts: 17member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post


    the iphone is dooooooooooomed.



    yawn.
  • Reply 14 of 209
    As far as 'iPhone Killers' this is the closest yet. T-Moble Google phone is awful, LG, the Blackberry Storm are not even there.



    This phone is pretty darn well thought out. Happy for Palm. Good job.



    My 2 cents.



    Another thing, I expect iPhone to sever exclusivity with AT&T by end of '09. It needs to be on more carriers if it want's true smartphone market share.
  • Reply 15 of 209
    aakaaaka Posts: 17member
    Not bad at all. I would still buy the iPhone over the Pre. I think people who want a keyboard would like this one.



    Too bad it is only coming to Sprint. I have had terrible luck with them.



    A
  • Reply 16 of 209
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    Palm's Pre will join Android, RIM's Storm and an upcoming WinMobile 7 as the group of 2009 catch-up smart phones OS' that will finally make a genuine effort to match the iPhone in terms of convenience and usability, not just specs and features. (looks like Nokia/Symbian will have to wait until 2010.) it only took them all two years ...



    and none of them yet has an 'ecosystem' of integrated supporting on-phone apps and computer software like iTunes/Mobile Me/iLife (for Mac users only). Android will have Google's "cloud," but that is not a complete package yet. WinMobile 7 will have some whole new Windows Live ecosystem someday, but not this year (just the Zune store). RIM and Palm would have to partner with somebody else to even try ... so it will be 2010 before any of them could hope to catch up with Apple for this.



    but of course Apple is not standing still in the meantime. we'll see this summer (at WWDC?) if Apple can continue to jump a year or more ahead of the pack with, presumably, a third generation iPhone 3.0. wait and see ...
  • Reply 17 of 209
    dr_lhadr_lha Posts: 236member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by johnqh View Post


    6. Palm is squeeze to Sprint - which is neither GSM nor CDMA, and is way smaller than ATT and Verizon. Basically, it is getting the leftover from Apple, Blackberry and Android.



    No, Sprint is CDMA. You're thinking of Nextel, which OK, Sprint bought, but I doubt this phone will be a iDen phone. Most likely Palm will be able to release a version of the Pre for Verizon.
  • Reply 18 of 209
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,153member
    Quote:

    All Things Digital's Peter Kafka asked chief executive Ed Colligan if the Pre would be priced below $200:



    "He looked at me like I'd peed on his rug. 'Why would we do that when we have a significantly better product,' he asked, then walked away."







    This is why the Palm Pre won't sell. This guy never gets it!! This is how he responding to questions from New York Times in 2006 to the idea that any company (including Apple) could easily win customers in the smart-phone sector:



    Quote:

    "We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone," he said. "PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in.'"



  • Reply 19 of 209
    irelandireland Posts: 17,552member
    There is room for both the iPhone and the Palm (with the bad name) in the market you know.



    If I was the CEO I would have called it the Palm 1, and I would have given it a less pebbly shape. Aside from that it's pretty cool, but the iPhone is easier to use.
  • Reply 20 of 209
    [QUOTE=johnqh;1360824]Wow, good question.



    It is possibly the BeOS windowing system on top of Linux.



    I watched the Pre video tour. Some observations:



    1. You have to slide the keyboard out to type anything. I found this is very annoying with Android. Apple's software keyboard actually changes depending on the context. For example, if a text field is numeric only, the keyboard only contains number keys. With hardware keyboard, typing some of the stuff (numbers, symbols) is very difficult.



    2. Again about the keyboard - you have to turn to the correct orientation to type. On Android, you have to turn to landscape. With Pre, you have to turn to portrait.



    3. Again about the keyboard. When people have to slide every time they want to type, that's extensive wear on the sliding mechanism. I have doubts on its reliability. iPhone has terrific reliability record and one of the reason is the lack of keyboard.



    4. Speed. From the video tour, the responsiveness is just not there. It looks cool when doing the animations, but not cool when you try to do anything for real. The demonstrator tried six times to show the gesture area.



    5. So the apps will essentially be web apps. Yawn.



    6. Palm is squeeze to Sprint - which is neither GSM nor CDMA, and is way smaller than ATT and Verizon. Basically, it is getting the leftover from Apple, Blackberry and Android.



    7. The phone is simply UGLY.



    8. Attention to details. On iPhone, when you pinch, the zoom level actually stick to your fingers. On "Pre", it zooms but the zoom level seems to be fixed. Basically, it knows that you are pinching, but doesn't know how much.



    9. To do multiple apps running properly, it needs to have more RAM. On iPhone, the application usually has only 24MB of RAM to work with (that's only 3x photos). Running multiple apps would require much more RAM (more expensive, and bigger device) or swapping onto the flash.



    10. A lot of apps are not finished. Photo doesn't rotate according to accelerometer, for example. During the demo, the demonstrator keeps on say "There will be a menu ..... blah blah" for missing features. A lot of things didn't work. She would press a button, expecting something to work, but then have to switch to something else.



    11. Palm and Sprint won't say anything about the pricing and schedule. That means two things - it is going to be expensive, and it is not ready.[QUOTE]





    Very good observations. From what I can see, I would rate it #2 in the ranking of flagship phones (iPhone #1, G1 #3, and Storm #91501493). I would certainly go for it if I were stuck on Sprint, even though I don't like physical keyboards (how hilarious to think about entering text while viewing a webpage in landscape. flip, enter, flip, rotate, enter, flip, rotate, enter, flip).



    There are a bunch of things the Pre seems to have that I hope Apple is paying attention to. The OS actually does seem to be more advanced than iPhone's crippled Mac OS X. It might be time to make the iPhone a bit more Mac OS X-ish.
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