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Palm calling
January 8, 2009 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Remember Palm? In the 1990s they created an industry and ate Apple's lunch when their smaller, nimbler Palm Pilot 1000 did the PDA right and blew the MessagePad away. Today they unveiled the Pre, a phone running their new "WebOS" and aimed straight at the iPhone's weaknesses. With one of the guys behind the iMac and iPod running the show, can they pull it off again?
posted by bonaldi (108 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a pity that it's going to be exclusive to Sprint.
posted by cgomez at 6:25 PM on January 8, 2009


Only Sprint? Well so much for this sale. I think I'll wait for their next phone, the Post.
posted by happyroach at 6:31 PM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


They are working on GSM versions of it, guys.

link
posted by leviathan3k at 6:33 PM on January 8, 2009


The thing I really like the look of is this Synergy stuff. The iPhone has big walls between data, so texts from a contact are separate from emails /voicemails from the same person and so on. The Pre integrates them all. And has a UI that is good-looking to boot.

I don't see games written solely in JS+HTML being much cop, but on the other hand the barrier to developers is much, much lower than the iPhone's Cocoa+Obj C.
posted by bonaldi at 6:38 PM on January 8, 2009


leviathan3k, the GSM version is destined for locales other than the United States. True patriots are stuck with Sprint if they want it.
posted by cgomez at 6:42 PM on January 8, 2009


It does look awfully pretty.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:42 PM on January 8, 2009


> ...can they pull it off again?

I hope it's a great product in its own right, but it wouldn't exist without the Blackberry, G1 and iPhone as sources to blatantly swipe from, so it looks like the product of a company trying to catch up, not the product of an industry leader. So signs point to 'no'.
posted by ardgedee at 6:58 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


The iPhone has big walls between data, so texts from a contact are separate from emails /voicemails from the same person and so on.

My BlackBerry does all of this and more! Hahaha - take *that*, iPhone! I love BB's UI.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:58 PM on January 8, 2009


Man, does this mean I should have waited for all my dieting software to work again on the PalmOS? Dammit.
posted by jadepearl at 6:59 PM on January 8, 2009


The mockups look pretty. I'll wait till I see an actual version. Does it play all my iTunes TV shows? Integrate with Address Book and iPhoto? Is the camera lens worth taking pictures with?
posted by jock@law at 7:03 PM on January 8, 2009


Maybe this is better for AskMe but can someone hope me? What does this mean for the average consumer / soon to be shopper?
From my ignant perspective it looks like Apple/ATT v Palm/Sprint.

And a lot of corprospeak to wade through.
posted by vapidave at 7:08 PM on January 8, 2009


cgomez: Dammit!

Where did you hear that?
posted by leviathan3k at 7:27 PM on January 8, 2009


What are the iphone's weaknesses? Let's examine a couple of scenarios:

Guy: "Hi, I have an iPhone"
Girl: "Take me now"

as opposed to...

Guy: "Hi, check out my Pre"
Girl: "Get lost, dork"

Game over.
posted by spicynuts at 7:27 PM on January 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


Nice, but the G1/current blackberry are still more appealing.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 7:28 PM on January 8, 2009


With one of the guys behind the iMac and iPod running the show, can they pull it off again?

ars - "Palm's webOS is where the real action is. As a dedicated iPhone user, I experienced something very strange and quite unexpected while watching Palm demo the new OS: my iPhone suddenly felt old and played out. It's like Palm started with the iPhone, copied all the best ideas, and then made the whole package better."
posted by kliuless at 7:28 PM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Smells kinda Zune-y to me.
posted by spilon at 7:31 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Longtime Palm phone user here, using a phone that predates the Treo line and 5.5 years later ... I'm still using it. My whole life revolves around my PDA phone, because I really use it as a P-D-A, to assist me in getting things done. But I've been unable to find a replacement for it (prime directives: small, Palm, flip) and so have struggled along with my same old phone. No SMS texting, no camera, but it does do rudimentary web and email and otherwise works just fine.

I've mostly had my hopes pinned on Android for about a year now, since that's an open platform and lots of models are likely to come out, including hopefully one that matches my flip form factor directive. The first iteration that came out in September has been encouraging, but I'm waiting for the 2.0 spec and more hardware options.

But I've been aware of this Palm product in the works, and I'll be taking a close look at this. If I could stay in the Palm sync world I would be VERY happy. My Palm is my digital football, carrying all of my personal info (some of it encrypted) between home computer and work computer and with me on the road.

Here's a recent feature article from IEEE Spectrum magazine about Jon Rubinstein and his efforts at Palm -- he's the "guy behind the iMac and iPod" mentioned in the FPP.
posted by intermod at 7:31 PM on January 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


@leviathan3k "Palm Pre is scheduled to be available first in the United States exclusively from Sprint in the first half of 2009, and will be followed by a world-ready UMTS version for other regions."

Source: Palm Press Release
posted by cgomez at 7:33 PM on January 8, 2009


Intermod, I am with you. I need my Palm world. I have been a diehard Palm person for years. I like my Centro a lot, but I have to admit that I look other people's iPhones and I am a bit jealous. This gives me hope.
posted by k8t at 7:35 PM on January 8, 2009


LOL Palm
posted by LordSludge at 7:35 PM on January 8, 2009


I was very, very sad when I lost my old Palm 650 in a cab and was too poor to replace it. It did a lot of things that were so impressive -- like playing videos and VNC and such. I was less sad when I bought my iPhone, but since I don't play with my gear like I used to, I haven't bothered unlocking it. Still, though, I wish Palm the best since I think healthy competition helps us all.

And by us, I mean gadget obsessed dorks.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:42 PM on January 8, 2009


That card paradigm sounds interesting. I'd be interested to play with it some.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:44 PM on January 8, 2009


MCMikeNamara: You want my 650? I got an iPhone and have zero use for it. New battery and all...
posted by LordSludge at 7:51 PM on January 8, 2009


OK, I was going to write a big ol' post on how I was not impressed, on how Apple's going to dominate because of the advantages they've built into their developer ecosystem. But after poking a bit at the generals of the "WebOS", I'm not so sure.

A long time ago when the iPhone was introduced I made this comment:

"Entry-level phone applet development is now HTML/CSS/Javascript and some design skills."

The bar for iPhone development turned out to be higher than that, but it looks to me like the Palm folks have taken that idea to heart and near. I still think Cocoa Touch and other aspects of the iPhone software ecology are very promising and will probably keep Apple at the epicenter of the revolution. But after briefly reviewing what Palm is promising with Mojo, my confidence in Apple's lead has waned more than a little bit. Add to this the fact that you can migrate Palm apps, and I think these guys are in the race.

And I guess the email integration might be meaningful to a lot of businesses with Windows IT shops, but isn't the Blackberry already king of the hill there?

Tethering's a big plus. 'specially since EVDO is pretty blazing fast... almost fast enough to support VOIP (the day that happens and you just buy a data plan, that WILL be revolutionary).

Dunno. It's a decent offering. Will it really compete? Maybe. My guess is the price point will be the deciding factor. If they can come in somewhat under their highest profile competition in terms of device and monthly costs, I might even invest in Palm.
posted by weston at 7:51 PM on January 8, 2009


Oh, and bonaldi, you might be surprised about games in JS+HTML. I've been keeping an eye on how people are using the Canvas element and I'm starting to see some interesting stuff places like WiiCade. The web browser was a revolution because it introduced a free and more or less standard client to every PC. We're starting to see that revolution spread out to other devices, consoles and handheld mobile devices, and as we do, we'll see more applications (games and otherwise) written using JS+HTML. I'd be willing to be that the Palm Mojo folks are betting on exactly that.
posted by weston at 7:56 PM on January 8, 2009


It's like Palm started with the iPhone, copied all the best ideas, and then made the whole package better.

Folks should keep in mind that impressions like these are coming from watching a touched-up demo or Flash animation on a website. Maybe wait until the 1.0 product is actually released, first?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:56 PM on January 8, 2009


The thing about the iPhone is that when you put it down someone always picks it up and plays with it. The iPod used to be just the same.

Available late 2009? Smells like fail.
posted by unSane at 8:01 PM on January 8, 2009


New iPhone owner here and here's me in a fit of gadget envy. Watch the UI videos. It has a whack of things my iPhone doesn't: seamless multitasking, USB storage support, great screen, hardware keyboard, a back button! Not to mention the VERY cool multi-button "gesture area" (brilliant idea to take the touch screen sensor off the edge of the screen).

If this had been available last month (and on a Canadian carrier) I might have bought it instead. (although I'm kind of wedded to the iTunes iPhoto ecosystem)

The poster received no remuneration for the above gushing
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:03 PM on January 8, 2009


One thing in computerland I've hated, really, really hated, was homogeneity. The conceit that there was ONLY one way to do it... when the ONE was was so obviously braindead. I saw the weird and wonderful platforms die - Atari Falcon, Commodore Amiga, Acorn, Be. I saw Apple Macintosh almost bite the big one.

But! Then! There was the Newton! And Palm! And WinCE! and Psion! and Zaurus! And then they all died.

Now, in Unixland, the mighty DEC Alpha is dead, SGI MiPS is dead(MiPS lives on in the gloriously weird, Chinese-government-backed Dragon netbook processor), PA-RISC should be dead, but isn't because IA-64 is dead, PowerPC is dead, and now POWER-based AIX workstations are dead. Sun lingers on, but it's only a matter of time before they give in and buy AMD to switch to a top-to-bottom x86 platform.

Even the Mac is just a glorified Intel PC these days.

This has depressed me no end... but wait!

Microsoft doesn't have a stranglehold on the smartphone market! And look! Apple's designed something pretty damn bad-ass that fits in the pocket, and using Power-PC, no less! Symbian's still around? Whaddya know! Google's Android is geek-chic, and liable to wind up on some seriously sexy hardware before the year is out, and Redfly wants to put a full-sized screen and keyboard at its disposal... as do various netbooks! And, now, this! Palm may not be able to rebound in this economic climate, but they sure as hell are going down swinging... and now we know why Sprint wasn't signing onto the Android bandwagon.

The Platform Wars are back, baby! Pick your deck, and bombast about it on your blog! Competition breed champions, and makes more compelling underdogs. Monopolies are for chumps.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:04 PM on January 8, 2009 [17 favorites]


Dunno. It's a decent offering. Will it really compete? Maybe.


I'm thinking it will be competitive in the enterprise market where iPhone is weak but not so much in the consumer market where the Palm name doesn't carry a whole lot of weight and it'll come off looking a bit of a "me too" phone.
posted by MikeMc at 8:08 PM on January 8, 2009


I saw the weird and wonderful platforms die - Atari Falcon, Commodore Amiga, Acorn, Be.

.

That was for the Amiga.
posted by MikeMc at 8:12 PM on January 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think it's great that Palm is bringing a few new ideas into the phone marketplace. I suspect we'll see them on the iPhone in a few months. ;-)

Really though, the company that wins the smartphone wars will probably be the one that manages to get out from under their exclusive carrier deal first.
posted by markkraft at 8:20 PM on January 8, 2009


New iPhone owner here and here's me in a fit of gadget envy.
This is the thing. I'm kinda the same. When Android came along it all seemed a bit "meh" to me, and barely iPhone-equivalent. It smelt like Linux, frankly. Now this comes along with some clever stuff on the UI and other nice hardware touches. Palm's been dying for too long for the brand name to mean much, and it's nothing compared to "iPod", but still.

I think the best bit is that this is here barely a year and a half after the iPhone launched. Unlike the iPod, where Apple had the market to itself for years, competitors are hot on their heels this time. iPhone 3.0 better be something else (crazy quad-core CPU rumours or not). If this spurs them into cleaning out the iFart shite from the App Store and encouraging some serious apps to boot, all the better.
posted by bonaldi at 8:24 PM on January 8, 2009


We'll see how it goes - obviously a tech demo is very different from an actual shipping gadget (Blackberry Storm much?)

But.

If Palm can pull this off, they could very realistically go from butt-of-jokes irrelevant zombie-company to Apple's first real competition (Sorry G1, you're okay, but your media playback stinks and your interface lacks pizzaz). Not sure what the right analogy is here; something like "Chrysler announces 2009 model with 200mpg, self-driving AI, and 6 CD changer." I think the Smartphone Wars are looking a lot more interesting all of a sudden.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:27 PM on January 8, 2009


Fuck Palm. Seriously, fuck them. I bought a Treo 650 a couple of years back and it was missing features and not user-friendly from Day One. Then just under a year later it died and I took it in for a warranty repair, and I experienced the most cack-handed after-sales service I've ever experienced in my life.

In the end I got rid of the Palm and bought an iPhone and I haven't looked back. I haven't had any issues with it yet, but if I do, I'll remember how easy it was to fix my broken iPod and hope to it'll be just as easy an experience.

In short, the Pre could be the greatest phone on the planet... it could be better than the iPhone... but given the past experiences I had with Palm, count me out.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:27 PM on January 8, 2009


One of the great things about Palm is that you don't need to go to a special "Palm App Store" to install software.
I still use my Tungsten C.
The latest DocsToGo lets you edit Office 2007 documents locally - the iphone can't do that, can it ?
posted by rfs at 8:33 PM on January 8, 2009


I thought that said "Remember Palin?"

WHY WON'T YOU GO AWAYYY
posted by lunit at 8:35 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apple's designed something pretty damn bad-ass that fits in the pocket, and using Power-PC, no less!

ARM6
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:51 PM on January 8, 2009


Speak to the hand Palmtm
posted by blue_beetle at 8:54 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


it wouldn't exist without the Blackberry, G1 and iPhone as sources to blatantly swipe from, so it looks like the product of a company trying to catch up, not the product of an industry leader. So signs point to 'no'.

quoting this for truth

Palm's business plan:

1. Do nothing significant for goddamned near five years.
2. See iPhone.
3. Spend two years doing #2.
4. lol web apps
posted by Mikey-San at 8:55 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really though, the company that wins the smartphone wars will probably be the one that manages to get out from under their exclusive carrier deal first.

You can get an unlocked G1 through the Google developer program. It costs $399, but it's unlocked.

Of course, T-mobile is the only carrier that allows unlocked GSM phones on their network in the U.S. (Unless that's changed).

Also, keep in mind there is planet with a few billion people who don't live in the U.S. but still love mobile phones, most of them who don't have to put up with provider locking bullshit.
posted by delmoi at 8:58 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


God I used to love Palm. My pen and paper handwriting still looks like Graffiti. I owned 5 Palm products up until my Treo. But the last couple models got so many things wrong that this dedicated user just lost faith in the company. Even if this thing is the bomb, they have such an uphill battle that I still really doubt the company can be saved at this point.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:09 PM on January 8, 2009


AT&T will let you use an unlocked GSM phone on their network. At least, they're letting me use an old Nokia 6200, which I'm currently swapping AT&T and T-Mobile sim cards in and out of in an effort to compare service and offerings.
posted by weston at 9:12 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had a very early Palm, maybe the Palm III? It may have even been the PalmPilot 1000. I got it free as a promo, and at the time they really wanted testers for these new products. I found Graffiti to be a pain in the ass, and it had trouble syncing consistently, so I never relied on the thing very much. I understand they improved since then. My BlackBerry is very handy, but work pays for it. Wish it wasn't so Windows-centric.

lunit writes "I thought that said 'Remember Palin?'"

I must admit that was the first thing that flashed in my head. So very glad it wasn't.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:29 PM on January 8, 2009


Palm III
Palm V
Treo 600 (I used it for *five years*!!!)

and now I have my iPhone

I'm in no hurry to get the Pre once it comes out and lives up to expectations, but lemme tell you, if it had appeared back in July when my Treo died and the iPhone came out, I would have stayed with the Palm. What I've read so far about it is impressive.

As for Palm in general - good products, intuitive interface, easy to use. What's not to love?
posted by seawallrunner at 9:51 PM on January 8, 2009


I have been a Palm fan for years and years. Palm has a huge quantity of my money. I've owned a huge array of Palm devices. I owned a Pro. Actually, I've owned about 3 Pros. I owned a III and a IIIxe. I own a VII and had all that Mobitex network stuff. I bought a special Pro on eBay that had been hand modified to have some vast and infeasible quantity of flash and the full boat of RAM. Then there was a long, long period of time where Palm seemed to have given up and turned into a Windows reseller. I tried to keep the faith alive because it was a wonderful minimalist platform that was wide-open to developers.

I thought about it for a long long time and sprung for a Treo 680. I didn't much like the keyboard, as I had been using a RIM 950 for so many years that almost every mobile keyboard feels really terrible. But it was a moderately featureful device.

After about 3 months, I started to hate it. It wasn't any one thing, it was a combination of tons of little things. The little crashes; hanging on network access; the miserable, miserable browser; the incredibly bad quality of the HotSync software (which to this day still ships only a PowerPC binary); the fact that it felt like a phone with a PDA tacked on and not the other way around. I felt trapped on a buggy, abandoned platform produced by a schizophrenic company that had long since ceased to innovate.

I was burned too badly. I'm never giving those bastards another red cent.
posted by majick at 9:57 PM on January 8, 2009


The Pre has one major problem compared to the iPhone.

There's no such thing as a Palm fanboy.
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 10:01 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


AT&T will let you use an unlocked GSM phone on their network. At least, they're letting me use an old Nokia 6200, which I'm currently swapping AT&T and T-Mobile sim cards in and out of in an effort to compare service and offerings.

Huh, I'll have to check that out. T-Mobile's coverage around here isn't that great.
posted by delmoi at 10:02 PM on January 8, 2009


Oooh, OQO seems to have finally gotten their shit together. EV-DO, and an HDMI output that ought to connect to these nicely. Ah, to geek, perchance to dream...
posted by XMLicious at 10:10 PM on January 8, 2009


It's a good thing they put that little line over the e in Pre, because we are all very stupid and wouldn't know how to pronounce it otherwise.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:41 PM on January 8, 2009


I thought that the iPhone tried to do the whole 'running-web-apps-natively' thing, and that it sucked so much that Apple had to release an SDK for real, native-code apps?

This whole web-app paradigm just seems too limited for the ways I would want to hack my mobile device.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:57 PM on January 8, 2009


Considering Palm's situation, they should've called it the Pra... complete with the little line.
posted by markkraft at 11:00 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sounds like Psion's concepts are being resurrected.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:10 PM on January 8, 2009


There's no such thing as a Palm fanboy.

I beg to differ.

What? That's not what you meant? Oh. Sorry.
posted by MrMustard at 11:25 PM on January 8, 2009


"There's no such thing as a Palm fanboy."

You need to spend more time at palminfocenter.

And it can copy/paste! Take that, iJerks!
posted by Eideteker at 11:28 PM on January 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I see on the Palm.com web site that they now sell "Phones" and "Accessories." I guess this means I can't even buy a new TX or Tungsten anymore to replace my old one which has worn out in several ways. No love for those of us who don't want a smartphone (or especially the expensive phone plans that come with one), just a PDA with the good ol' reliable Palm interface of so many years. That's too bad.
posted by grouse at 11:37 PM on January 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sounds like Psion's concepts are being resurrected.

Ahhh Psion, nobody does Fail quite so Epically as the British
posted by fullerine at 12:38 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


AT&T will let you use an unlocked GSM phone on their network. At least, they're letting me use an old Nokia 6200, which I'm currently swapping AT&T and T-Mobile sim cards in and out of in an effort to compare service and offerings.

I've used my AT&T SIM in my G1 dev phone. It works fine, except that you don't get 3G. Of course, thats true for unlocked iPhones on TMobile, as well.

If you're almost always near WiFi like I am, losing 3G isn't so bad... still, I'll probably switch to T-Mobile when my AT&T contract is up.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:43 AM on January 9, 2009


It looks covetable but no Flash? If you can't show your friends kitty videos from youtube on the go then what's the point?
posted by minifigs at 1:00 AM on January 9, 2009


Ahhh Psion, nobody does Fail quite so Epically as the British

Yet still, the Psion OS lives on.

Anyways, this new Palm phone looks like the bee's knees. So long as there's a GSM 850 model, I think I'm on board.
posted by timelord at 1:12 AM on January 9, 2009


Matias Duarte is the reason this new Palm phone is knocking the socks off iPhone users. He's the experience design guru behind everything good about the Helio Ocean and the Danger Sidekick. When I heard he'd left Helio for Palm, I knew Palm had a chance at becoming a player in the mobile space once again.

There's a bit more info on the new Palm phone in this transcript of the Palm press event at CES:

http://www.intomobile.com/2009/01/08/palm-press-event-live-from-ces-las-vegas-2009.html
posted by sdodd at 1:25 AM on January 9, 2009


So what are the odds it'll ever be on Verizon? Because I'm not going to switch from calling everyone I know for free and getting signal in my house unless the damn phone makes me breakfast.
posted by Skorgu at 4:46 AM on January 9, 2009


I think it's very impressive. Palm is suddenly relevant again.

I don't really understand some of the criticism I've read online either. Why is taking the good ideas from the iPhone, Blackberry and G1 a bad thing? I want a product that takes the best ideas and builds on them while adding a few of its own, not a product that reinvents everything for the sake of it.
posted by HaloMan at 5:01 AM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


No love for those of us who don't want a smartphone (or especially the expensive phone plans that come with one), just a PDA with the good ol' reliable Palm interface of so many years.

I share your pain, grouse. I've used Palm PDAs since the original one, and am quite happy with them. I don't want to be connected and available at all times, I just want to have my schedule, a few documents, phone book, simple apps, etc. And a basic dumbphone. My MD SO also depends on Palm for medical software (drug database/interactions, etc.)

This is just another strange technological insult to the non-gadget-geek. For example, I don't want a fucking camera on my cell phone. In fact, having said camera on my phone means I can't take it into Certain Places at all. But I can't find a decent phone without a camera.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 5:31 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


HaloMan writes "Why is taking the good ideas from the iPhone, Blackberry and G1 a bad thing?"

Because iPhone users automatically think the iPhone is completely perfect, because it has an Apple logo on it. If you put the Apple logo on a varnished turd, people would buy it and carry it around and tell everyone else that no, there's no odor, and even if there is there's supposed to be an odor, and it is pleasant. They would then go on to insinuate that you yourself are weird for not preferring to have a varnished turd in your pocket.

Don't get me wrong, I love my MacBook Pro and all, but I have to agree with Mark Pilgrim's analysis: Apple users by and large used to be a hell of a lot more critical and demanding when evaluating their computers, which is why they used Apples. Today it seems like it's 95% fanboy kool-aid drinkers that will gladly buy into the Cult of Jobs, no questions asked. Like any other device, the iPhone has good points, but it also has some major limitations: If you can't see both, you aren't paying attention.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:46 AM on January 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


"It looks covetable but no Flash? If you can't show your friends kitty videos from youtube on the go then what's the point?"

It'll probably have the same (or better) youtube playback ability as the Treos do now. My Treo can't do flash, either, but it can play videos from youtube's mobile site.
posted by Eideteker at 6:39 AM on January 9, 2009


I'll only buy it if God himself makes the switch.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:48 AM on January 9, 2009


Just one question: Can I change the battery without sending it back to the factory?
Seriously, Apple, what the hell were you thinking?
posted by rocket88 at 6:57 AM on January 9, 2009


It'll probably have the same (or better) youtube playback ability as the Treos do now. My Treo can't do flash, either, but it can play videos from youtube's mobile site.

Watch the second video here. I could be misunderstanding though.
posted by minifigs at 7:00 AM on January 9, 2009


Guy: "Hi, I have an iPhone"
Girl: "Take me now"

as opposed to...

Guy: "Hi, check out my Pre"
Girl: "Get lost, dork"


You see, that is what Apple sells - cool. Steve Jobs is usually the coolest dude in the room and he develops products with an aura of cool, products that people will think make them look cool. They aren't necessarily the best products in terms of functionality, but they look cool, are absurdly easy to operate and they integrate style and function very well. So, if you want the best smartphone it probably will never be the Apple, but if you want the coolest one it probably will be, at least as long as Apple has Steve Jobs.
posted by caddis at 7:24 AM on January 9, 2009


There's no such thing as a Palm fanboy.

So wrong, look at the Palm community.

Palm IIIxe
Palm m130
Palm Tungsten E
Palm TX

I love my Palm and have been very disappointed over the last several years as they locked all their development into the damn Treo and it's ilk with the SSS (small square screen) while they let the TX and LifeDrive lines die out.
This was their last chance and I think they have restored my faith in them. If I don't hear about Verizon getting these into their line sometime in the next 6 months I just might be switching to Sprint. And seriously who uses Sprint?
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:10 AM on January 9, 2009


"'It'll probably have the same (or better) youtube playback ability as the Treos do now. My Treo can't do flash, either, but it can play videos from youtube's mobile site.'

Watch the second video here. I could be misunderstanding though."


I should probably explain for the non-Palmowners in the audience. Right now, clicking on a video on m.youtube.com from Blazer (the Treo browser) sends you to the Kinoma player, which handles the streaming video (assuming you have enough signal/bandwidth). I would be seriously surprised if they didn't institute at least this minimal functionality if not by ship date, then by I'm ready to upgrade (I don't care about the bleeding edge; I just care about me!).

"I see on the Palm.com web site that they now sell "Phones" and "Accessories." I guess this means I can't even buy a new TX or Tungsten anymore to replace my old one which has worn out in several ways. No love for those of us who don't want a smartphone (or especially the expensive phone plans that come with one), just a PDA with the good ol' reliable Palm interface of so many years. That's too bad."

Sadly, grouse, the market just isn't there. The vast majority of people would rather have a compromised all-in-one device than separate devices that do everything well. Palm just isn't strong enough right now to service the contingent who want standalone devices. I think it's a shame, because that's what got me using a Palm in the first place. And I'm not really happy with the Treo; I miss my T3's sliding real estate with hideable silkscreen/typing area thingy. I hate using the thumbboard, but I hate using the stylus input hacks with the treo slightly more.

Still better than an iPhone, though. This was really an unexpected surprise. Rather than trying to cram a whole desktop OS on a handheld (Windows OR Apple), the appeal of the Palm has always been (for me) that it was designed FOR a handheld, and for a PIM. Unfortunately, their old OS was not designed with the internet in mind, and it wasn't really possible to upgrade it to handle the internet in any way other than a kludgy mess. Which is why the new OS is "WebOS"; it's been designed for Internet from the ground up. No, web is not internet, but hopefully I'll still be able to use ssh. Someone will probably develop the app. I think Palm is right to make big, friendly overtures to its developer base; the large variety of cheap, effective portable apps has always been a strength of PalmOS. I just hope the fact that they've been dead in the water long enough to kill 80% their developer base won't wreck this; the bar is usually low enough to encourage small devs. So I'm hoping by the time I get my device, it'll have most of the functionality I need, along with available applications for the rest of the stuff I'll want.
posted by Eideteker at 8:49 AM on January 9, 2009


Just one question: can I install any third party app I want to, or can I only get super-duper approved and vetted third party apps through the Palm Store? If it's an open platform I'm all for it.

The iPhone is a lovely bit of hardware with a fan-fracking-tastic UI. And its the most evil bit of vendor lock in and control freak fascism I've ever had the misfortune to encounter. You'd think they'd have learned after the trouncing they took in the personal computer market when the Mac was a hermetically sealed block, and the IBM clones were a free for all. But no, the control freak mentality lives on completely unabated at Apple.

If the Pre is as friendly as the iPhone but doesn't come with the jackbooted thuggery of Apple, I'm in. And, of course, copy/paste would be nice too.
posted by sotonohito at 8:51 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I too second the second coming of the pocket-based platform wars. We need a before and after list...


original Mac == iPhone
IBM PC XT == WinMo
Atari 800 == Palm
Amiga == Android
C64 == Blackberry
Colecovision == Moto RAZR

etc.
posted by GuyZero at 8:54 AM on January 9, 2009


So what are the odds it'll ever be on Verizon? Because I'm not going to switch from calling everyone I know for free and getting signal in my house unless the damn phone makes me breakfast.

I'm with Skorgu. Any chance this will eventually land at Verizon? My contract is up in July and I'd rather slice off a few fingers than switch to Sprint. But this phone - oh, it is exactly what I wanted. I love my Treo so much and really wanted a step up from that.
posted by bristolcat at 8:56 AM on January 9, 2009


what i've read on the tech blogs who had chances for a hands-on with the thing is that it is really really tiny. apparently the keypad buttons can be hit by average-man-sized fingers if you use your fingernail. I'm sincerely hoping that Palm, in their rush to "fix all the things that were wrong with the iphone" didn't forget to "fix all the things that were wrong with the treo." the buttons on that thing are one of the reasons I went for a winmo phone instead of a palm. (unfortunately, actually, the winmo phone, a motorola q9h, is the biggest piece of shit I've ever owned. it was a complete and utter mistake to ever purchase it. I'm a big dummy.)
posted by shmegegge at 9:00 AM on January 9, 2009


You see, that is what Apple sells - cool. Steve Jobs is usually the coolest dude in the room and he develops products with an aura of cool, products that people will think make them look cool.

I'm sorry, but there's absolutely nothing "cool" about having an iPhone any more. EVERYBODY has one. You see them EVERYWHERE. And I say that as a guy who got one for Christmas, and is happy with it.
posted by fungible at 9:05 AM on January 9, 2009


Not sure if you saw my comment by the time you posted, so I'll answer it.

Palm has a history of encouraging open development. They're the opposite of Apple in this respect, and I think this may be their saving grace. Palm's community has shrunk, but it's still extant, and very involved. You just don't hear about it as much because they don't need to do as much loud justifying of their purchase of a device of questionable functionality. (iZing!)

You own your Palm. You are not merely leasing it from the company. I would be seriously surprised if Palm pushed icons/applications to their device (the way apple can add things to your iPhone, whether you like it or not. Or remove them, apparently).
posted by Eideteker at 9:07 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just one question: Can I change the battery without sending it back to the factory?

Actually, I believe when Apple released the 3G version, they stopped soldering the battery to the logic board. Which means that if you can't yet find a third-party company that sells a toolkit to open the phone and replace the battery yourself, you will very soon. And those third-party batteries usually come with better warranties than official Apple batteries anyway.

However, the new 17" Macbook Pros now have unremovable batteries, in the name of longer charges and longer battery life. Which I sort of understand the logic of, but there's no way I could go two whole weeks without my laptop while I'm waiting for a battery replacement to get done and shipped back to me.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:25 AM on January 9, 2009


Because iPhone users automatically think the iPhone is completely perfect, because it has an Apple logo on it. If you put the Apple logo on a varnished turd, people would buy it and carry it around and tell everyone else that no, there's no odor, and even if there is there's supposed to be an odor, and it is pleasant.

I keep hearing about these uncritical Apple users, but I've never encountered one.

On the other hand, I have encountered a lot of people who seem to find a varnished turd to be the most handy device for discussing their penetrating theory that "Apple is a Fasion company."
posted by weston at 9:46 AM on January 9, 2009


Just one question: Can I change the battery without sending it back to the factory?

Actually, you can get a wireless charging dock & battery combo that uses induction to recharge the Pre. Or did someone already mention that?

The Touchstone Charging Dock.

Also at CES: The Cell-Mate that makes any phone into a hands-free phone!
posted by GuyZero at 9:54 AM on January 9, 2009


I keep hearing about these uncritical Apple users, but I've never encountered one.

Haven't met a lot of Apple users? They're the ones who insist Macs have better graphics even when they have the same damn video chips that I have in my PC. Except I can change my card when a new one comes out and they have to buy a whole new box, and they don't see that as a downside.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:06 AM on January 9, 2009


I keep hearing about these uncritical Apple users, but I've never encountered one.


you've encountered them on this very site.
posted by shmegegge at 10:34 AM on January 9, 2009


you've encountered them on this very site.

Please, point them out.


Which is why the new OS is "WebOS"; it's been designed for Internet from the ground up.

For a minute when I was first reading, I'd been hoping that the old BeOS which Palm owned for a while was going to be the basis of this. That thing was tight on desktop hardware that was probably less powerful than your average modern smartphone. But it looks like Palm squandered that asset, and this is based on Linux (pretty cool, actually, but the part of me that responds to Slap*Happy's comment on the platform wars wishes it was the BeOS :).

You'd think they'd have learned after the trouncing they took in the personal computer market when the Mac was a hermetically sealed block, and the IBM clones were a free for all. But no, the control freak mentality lives on completely unabated at Apple.

I don't see any sign Apple has to worry about this yet. There's no de facto alternative platform coalescing in market that runs across a broad set of devices, there's no one occupying a spot in the market like IBM did, the consumer market is bigger than the business market, and the subset of features Apple doesn't let developers mess with is small enough that combined with the strengths their platform offers to developers, I rather suspect that for the near future they're actually going to see the lion's share of development and therefore software titles (and killer apps) on their platform.

I do think there will come a day of reckoning when more open platforms will catch up, and I think Apple and AT&T will have to make some choices then, and if those choices don't embrace greater openness, then they'll lose their dominance. But I would be very surprised to see them lose the way that that Mac lost marketshare to the PC anytime in the next 3-5 years.
posted by weston at 10:50 AM on January 9, 2009


Please, point them out.

No. that would be mean spirited and putting individuals in a negative spotlight. why would I do that?
posted by shmegegge at 10:53 AM on January 9, 2009


Haven't met a lot of Apple users?

Probably hundreds, maybe even thousands, over the course of 15 years of working in software, design, and education.

They're the ones who insist Macs have better graphics even when they have the same damn video chips that I have in my PC.

Were you talking about appearance (subjective) or performance (more objective-ish, but sometimes less relevant)?

Except I can change my card when a new one comes out and they have to buy a whole new box, and they don't see that as a downside.

Yeah, the Apple users who tend to prioritize easily swapping out hardware tend to buy Apple boxes where they can do that.

And I *have* met the Apple users who will incorrectly argue technical performance (though probably no more frequently than I've met PC users who will do the same). What I'm saying is that I've never encountered an Apple user who doesn't have some piece of criticism for even their favorite product, not even the most died-in-the-wool artsy image-conscious graphic design decades-long loyal Apple user. Many of them will buy Apple again anyway, not because they've been hypnotized by shiny design, but because the accumulation of advantages they find the platform offers them outweighs the product weaknesses.
posted by weston at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


What I'm saying is that I've never encountered an Apple user who doesn't have some piece of criticism for even their favorite product, not even the most died-in-the-wool artsy image-conscious graphic design decades-long loyal Apple user.

You do understand that we're not talking about people who are literally psychologically unbalanced enough to deny the evidence of a design flaw perceived with their own eyes, right? We're talking about a generalized fanboyism, not an airtight ironclad refusal to acknowledge any and all criticism. We're not talking about the mentally ill, we're just talking about the guy who will insist that the one button mouse was better.

If you really don't think there are rabidly defensive apple fans out there, I don't know how to convince you, except to say look around.
posted by shmegegge at 11:37 AM on January 9, 2009


However, the new 17" Macbook Pros now have unremovable batteries, in the name of longer charges and longer battery life. Which I sort of understand the logic of...

As an engineer with plenty of product designs, I can't think of a single explanation of how making a battery unremovable would affect charge time or battery life. Before Apple, the battery in almost every device in the world was a standardized removable, replaceable unit.
The only part I can't figure out is Apple's motivation for retaining control of hardware devices after they've sold them to the customer. It must benefit them...but how?
posted by rocket88 at 11:47 AM on January 9, 2009


how making a battery unremovable would affect charge time or battery life.

There's a small amount of volume devoted to the connector and the extra casing that would be unnecessary for an integrated battery. But it's just them moving the laptops to an appliance model like the rest of their products.
posted by GuyZero at 11:57 AM on January 9, 2009


I'm with grouse and Ella. I do NOT want PDAphone. Especially since where I work gets no cell reception with any provider, and any time I leave my ancient dumbphone on at work it runs dead real fast. Also, I use the Palm all the time and don't always want to be goddamned available for anyone to call me any time they want, thanks.

I dread the day my current Tungsten dies, man. I will cry.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:58 AM on January 9, 2009


I can't think of a single explanation
Their explanation (there's a video on their site), is that by not having all the mounting hardware and interface gubbins, they can increase the number of cells. And by spreading the battery out right under the machine, they can get even more space for cells. They also redesigned the cells to fill as much of what space there is as possible.

It must benefit them...but how?
My iPod's appears dead. Maybe it's the battery. Gah. I have go and find some dude to rip it open and replace it. Oh, fuck it, I'll buy a new iPod. They have x feature now anyway.
posted by bonaldi at 12:05 PM on January 9, 2009


A removable battery has to have a considerable amount of casing due to the volatile contents. That appears to be the good majority of the savings; then of course there are latches, connectors, etc (both on the device and on the battery), some of which become unnecessary if the battery can't be removed.
posted by BaxterG4 at 12:11 PM on January 9, 2009


Were you talking about appearance (subjective) or performance (more objective-ish, but sometimes less relevant)?

You'd have to ask them, they are the ones insisting they are "better". I've done plenty of graphics work over the years and have had no problem achieving the same quality output as others who were using a Mac. Tho I did have a much better time doing my 3D renderings on my PC than the Macs in the design lab at school.

It came down to simply I had a newer faster processor and more RAM to do the same job. Not because Intel or Windows are just magically better than Apple hardware.

Point was however I still had people nagging me about how could I be using Windows over their precious Apple. I mean we were using the same freaking software most of the time so it's not like Apple gets you better apps. I was still told time and again that Macs are just better for doing graphics work.
posted by MrBobaFett at 12:21 PM on January 9, 2009


BATTLE OF THE MAC VS PC STRAWPEOPLE
posted by BaxterG4 at 12:23 PM on January 9, 2009


I was still told time and again that Macs are just better for doing graphics work.
This was true for a long time because Macs -- even in the OS 9 days -- supported proper end-to-end calibration, whereas Windows was content with just getting the pixels to the screen. That, combined with an entire Mac ecosystem in graphics arts, made Macs by far the easier route for pro graphics work.
posted by bonaldi at 12:29 PM on January 9, 2009


I keep hearing about these uncritical Apple users, but I've never encountered one.

A movie is coming out just for you!

But no, the control freak mentality lives on completely unabated at Apple.

While I don't think this is good for computers, generally, I think this makes good business sense for consumer devices like music players and phones. They can provide an end-to-end experience, and (in theory) guarantee the quality of the entire experience.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:42 PM on January 9, 2009


Oooh, OQO seems to have finally gotten their shit together. EV-DO, and an HDMI output that ought to connect to these nicely. Ah, to geek, perchance to dream...

oqo's stuff has had that for years. I have a secondhand oqo 2 with all that, and am very happy with it, although I haven't played with HDMI output. The 2+ is much nicer, though, and will be available in May according to Dynamism.
posted by me & my monkey at 12:47 PM on January 9, 2009


"Especially since where I work gets no cell reception with any provider, and any time I leave my ancient dumbphone on at work it runs dead real fast. Also, I use the Palm all the time and don't always want to be goddamned available for anyone to call me any time they want, thanks."

PROTIP: You can turn the phone part off and still use the PDA part. This will save on battery life AND prevent people from calling you.
posted by Eideteker at 1:03 PM on January 9, 2009


Eideteker: that would be fine with me if I could get the phone for the price and form factor of a PDA. But I won't be able to.
posted by grouse at 1:34 PM on January 9, 2009


The PDA is dead, and really, it was never more than a transitional product anyway.

Don't misunderstand me. I bought a Palm III, back in the day, and owned a newer iPaq until mid 2006. The PDA was a fantastic technology for its time, but that time has passed. Mobile phones have become ubiquitous, and there just aren't enough people who want to carry around two devices to sustain a non-phone PDA market.

Honestly, I don't get the smartphone dislike expressed here. My current smartphone is almost exactly the same size as my old iPaq, a bit larger than my Palm III but not much, it has a better processor, better screen, etc. It isn't that the PDA got worse, it just got a new feature, now it has an optional mobile phone built in. Can one of the anti-smartphone people explain what I'm missing?
posted by sotonohito at 2:30 PM on January 9, 2009


We're talking about a generalized fanboyism, not an airtight ironclad refusal to acknowledge any and all criticism.

Fair enough, although the ready and common "polished and branded turd" invocations such as the one that I responded to upthread sure tend to obscure that point.

We're not talking about the mentally ill, we're just talking about the guy who will insist that the one button mouse was better.

Which is pretty firmly in the realm of subjective discussion, although I'll say most of the Mac users I'm acquainted with don't care and either do things the one-button way or simply buy a mouse with more than one button and enjoy the rest of the advantages they like.
posted by weston at 2:34 PM on January 9, 2009


A developer speaks about Palm's new SDK.
posted by weston at 2:35 PM on January 9, 2009


Can one of the anti-smartphone people explain what I'm missing?

I don't know, because I don't know any "anti-smartphone" people. I do know why I don't think a smartphone is right for me. The biggest factor is the cost: an iPhone with the cheapest possible package in my area is $199 (fine) plus $70/month for two years. Total cost: $1,879 plus tax. I pay less than $17 per month including tax for my cell phone service right now, so that's a lot of extra money.
posted by grouse at 2:45 PM on January 9, 2009


I do know why I don't think a smartphone is right for me. The biggest factor is the cost: an iPhone with the cheapest possible package in my area is $199 (fine) plus $70/month for two years. Total cost: $1,879 plus tax. I pay less than $17 per month including tax for my cell phone service right now, so that's a lot of extra money.

Does that mean a smartphone isn't right for you, or that a monthly data plan isn't for you? You can get one without the other.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:56 PM on January 9, 2009


You'd think they'd have learned after the trouncing they took in the personal computer market when the Mac was a hermetically sealed block, and the IBM clones were a free for all.

There's an alternate view on that idea and why that same line of thought didn't apply to the iPod (and might not apply to the iPhone).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:00 PM on January 9, 2009


The developer told us that he has explored mobile development on Apple's iPhone SDK and found much of the company's position towards their community to be "developer-hostile"—an obvious reference to their insistence on enforcing a pointless NDA well past its expiration date and their strong hand in regulating what can and cannot be developed for its platform.

I'll bet that Palm will do more or less the same thing. But since it isn't Apple, Palm will get a pass.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:03 PM on January 9, 2009


pre: the anti-iPhone
Our developer also tells us that Palm is open to things Apple usually frowns upon, including running notification and periodic tasks in the background, providing direct access to the phone's text messaging (SMS) system, and more.


Hmmm, what's the battery life like?

The pre sounds interesting, despite the terrible name, but the anti-iPhone hype makes me pause as many tech journalists have been stunningly wrong about Apple over the years. Still, it would be good for everyone to have solid and popular competitor to the iPhone, something that has Steve Jobs screaming "WTF, why didn't we do this?!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:57 AM on January 10, 2009


Oh nostalgia! I used Palm Pilots back in middle and high school and those were the days of glorious reading of ebooks under my desk...I would prolly still be using my Palm Zire 71 (with awesome slide-out camera!) if the battery wasn't completely shot. I was married to those devices back in the day. Now I've gone analog and I'm doing the whole hipster PDA thing.
posted by fantine at 1:46 AM on January 12, 2009


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