Not Your Father’s Palm – Impressions of the Palm Pre

So at CES today, Palm unveiled their new phone, the Palm Pre. This is a tough time for Palm, they’ve not had luck with their recent devices and software. The assumption is that this device had to hit it out of the park for Palm to survive the recession.

Form the initial looks, I think it’s going to struggle. There’s nothing especially new in the smartphone space here. The screen is 320×480 in portrait mode; it’s running on EV-DO for data 9so it’s effectively US only), it has a multi-touch screen that has support for ‘gestures’; a Qwerty keyboard slides out the bottom; GPS and accelerometers; 8gb storage…

If the game was to produce something new, Palm failed. If they planned to match devices like the iPhone the Nokia 5800, and the HTC touch, then they equalled their expectations. Nothing here was actually new to the smartphone world – just new from Palm. Given the timescale since their last phone that did something different, pretty much anything modern on the Pre would be seen as a bold new step for Palm.

Ed Colligan and the presentation team spent a lot of time in the one hour session at the Venetian in Las Vegas talking about the history of Palm before introducing the device. That’s worrying, because with a new device you want to spend time looking forward. Perhaps Colligan wanted to reach back to Palm’s initial DNA to position this device… but the market is not going to measure this against how revolutionary the Pilot 1000 was for it’s day, but against the current devices.

Spec wise the Palm Pre is middle of the road when compared to other similar devices. It has some nice UI features that were presented well (there’s a surprise), but from what I’m seeing online, in snap judgements people are saying Palm were great, so this must be them back. That may prove true eventually, but past performance is no guide to future success.

The big test will come when it reaches the public. Via Sprint. Which is not going doing well with the US bloggers. let’s just hope that Palm actually ship this one out the door.

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