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Touchstone charger
Palm introduces new pre smartphone

Palm today held a special event to announce its answer to Apple’s popular iPhone and finally bring the company into the modern era of smartphones. Palm is starting with a blank slate thanks to a new operating system and a new smartphone which aims to please.

Palm started off with a new way of thinking -- as Palm Executive Chairman Ron Rubinstein stated, “Mobile is in our DNA.” Palm’s new efforts don’t revolve around the desktop as a tethering device or “home base” -- instead, Palm is looking to connect to the “cloud” of information online. Palm hopes to achieve this with its brand new webOS operating system. According to Rubinstein, anyone who can program for HTML, CSS, or JavaScript will feel right at home with webOS. The purpose of the webOS is to focus on “Your People, Your Time, and Your Critical Information”.

Tying Palm’s new philosophy to mobile telephony and the new webOS together is the new Palm pre phone. Palm’s 4.8-ounce pre aims to right the wrongs of its competitors while at the same time adding a few new twists of its own. The pre features EvDO Rev A, Stereo Bluetooth (a feature oft-requested from iPhone owners), 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, GPS, a fast OMAP processor, accelerometer, 3.0MP camera with an LED flash, and 8GB of internal storage.

The device features a 3.1” display with a 320x480 screen resolution. It also has a single, center button at the bottom of the device and a Gesture Area which provides direct access to the OS. Instead of a proprietary dock connector, the pre uses a microUSB connector located on the right side of the device and can be used as a USB Mass Storage Device. At the top of the device is a power button, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a ringer switch.

Palm’s Matias Duarte took more than a few jabs at the feature set of the iPhone and talked about how no one wants to use a finicky onscreen keyboard. Duarte then went on to show the pre’s keyboard which slides out from the bottom of the device. Duarte also pointed to a feature that was implemented by “popular request”: a removable battery. And speaking of the battery, the pre is charged using an innovative wireless “Touchstone” charging dock. You simply place the dock on your desk, plug it into the wall, then place your pre on top of the dock. The device is held in place thanks to magnets built into the dock – there is no need to plug the pre directly into in an AC adapter.

Martias also went into great detail about the webOS and the numerous gesture-based commands available on the pre. I cannot possibly cover every single feature in this space, but here are a few highlights:

  • The pre can have multiple applications open at once
  • The pre uses a "cards" system which shows open applications and allows you to flick through them using your finger
  • Bringing up the four traditional Palm application icons is done by placing your finger on the Gesture Areas and flicking up. This gives you access to what were once "hard buttons" on older Palm devices.
  • The OS supports Universal Search
  • Contact information can be pooled into a single place from multiple places (i.e., Gmail, Facebook)
  • The pre can be used in portrait or landscape mode -- the cards orient themselves automatically on device position  

Sprint will be a launch partner for the pre. The pre will be available the first half of 2009 exclusively from Sprint. Pricing is not available at this time.

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How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By Targon on 1/8/2009 3:32:20 PM , Rating: 4
Ok, I will probably be modded down for this, but Sprint is probably the worst choice of launch partners, simply because they are in third place behind AT&T and Verizon. If it were up to me, I would have picked AT&T since by going GSM, the phone would also very easily be released in Europe without a carrier tied to it.

I guess Sprint paid some good money for this one...

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By Mitch101 on 1/8/2009 3:48:54 PM , Rating: 4
Like if Taco Bell is promoting a kids movie you know its not good.

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By dj LiTh on 1/8/2009 7:22:55 PM , Rating: 4
Hey hey, hey, hey hey hey! You leave taco bell out of this!

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By heffeque on 1/8/2009 9:54:47 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah... Taco Bell "me tiene hasta los webOS".

By Gul Westfale on 1/8/2009 10:47:26 PM , Rating: 2
so... if i buy a palm i get diarrhea?


RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By elessar1 on 1/9/2009 6:15:17 AM , Rating: 3
Seriously, i can see that Palm gives "webOS" about spanish comunity... :P

Imagine, two mexicans talking:
M1: Hi this is my new cellphone
M2: wich OS does it use?
M1: webOS (nuts, balls)
M2: <kills M1>


By heffeque on 1/9/2009 8:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
Next OS Palm is going to offer is going to be Palm Pene (Palm Penis), just for the laughs I guess xD

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By mcnabney on 1/8/2009 4:14:26 PM , Rating: 2
You are quite right.

Palm is drowning and this device is their last chance to regain any marketshare.

And what provider do they restrict themselves to?

Bloody Sprint?!?!?!

The home of the worst network and customer service to be found in the United States!

Palm has tied their hopes to the biggest sinking boat-anchor in US telecom. Nice knowing you Palm.....

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By Dreifort on 1/8/09, Rating: 0
RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By Dreifort on 1/9/2009 8:59:12 AM , Rating: 2
with bad 4Q earnings, rumors are flying about a Sprint merger with T-Mobile or takeover by AT&T.

Alltel & Verizon have already begun the process of becoming one.

By mcnabney on 1/9/2009 12:01:50 PM , Rating: 3
Will not happen.

A CDMA company is just not going to be bought by a GSM company. The idiot idea of CDMA Sprint buying iDEN Nextel is the source of many of their problems.

Sprint could be bought by another industry player (Comcast?) Also, Deutsche Telecom (T-Mobile) is likely looking for a buyer for their US assets. Now AT&T might buy T-Mobile, which if approved could lead to Verizon buying Sprint. But do you really want just two wireless companies?

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By cocoviper on 1/8/2009 6:35:50 PM , Rating: 5
You might want to update some of your stances sir

Worst Network? Gizmodo recently evaluated all 4 carriers 3G data networks and Sprint came in first place.

Worst Customer Service? All the key metrics have shown Sprint climbing the customer service charts rapidly and taking first in several categories.

Sprint also scored as the highest telecom carrier in the recent CIO Insight Vendor Value survey

Considering Sprint stuck with Palm through thick and thin with ATT and Verizon giving them the snub- it makes total sense to launch on Sprint.

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By UNCjigga on 1/8/2009 7:18:21 PM , Rating: 3
Sprint and Verizon use the exact same tech, but you want to know why Sprint came first? Because they have fewer subscribers, they have relaxed QoS restrictions on individual bandwidth. Verizon is very stringent, which is why they actually lowball the quoted EVDO Rev. A data speeds. I'd like to see which markets they tested in. All I know is that I can breeze along on the Amtrak Acela at 130mph and watch a full movie on Netflix/Hulu between NYC and DC.

By UNCjigga on 1/8/2009 7:20:55 PM , Rating: 3
(My laptop has embedded 3G from Verizon)

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By djkrypplephite on 1/9/2009 2:40:16 AM , Rating: 2
Everybody rips on Sprint for being so bad, but you know what? I got the $99 everything plan (which is the best out of all the carriers that I have seen), along with a Palm Centro, and I am extremely happy with it. I have never had to call customer service about anything, and when I do talk to anyone from the company, I don't have any problems whatsoever with them.

Say what you want about them if you have AT&T, but honestly, I really like them as my provider. They gave me a good phone, awesome plan, and hell, I get free NFL network, so when I go to my drill center on weekends, I get to watch games in our downtime.

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By Targon on 1/9/2009 7:33:27 AM , Rating: 2
Yea, Sprint isn't bad, when you are in an area with decent coverage. You go to a more rural area, and you will discover that Sprint is horrible, just because there are so many holes in their coverage.

Now, AT&T and Verizon also have their holes, but there are far fewer holes in the coverage map compared to Sprint. To be fair though, T-mobile is MUCH worse than Sprint when it comes to rural area coverage.

It still comes down to my not being able to use Sprint where I live because there are so many holes in their coverage here(the South Fork of Long Island, NY) that I need to avoid them. The sad thing is that Sprint was chosen at one point for certain emergency services, and it made it difficult to get in touch with people as a result.

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By RamarC on 1/9/2009 9:12:40 AM , Rating: 2
sprint has free roaming so being out of their service area is not really an issue. the only problem is if there's a weak sprint signal, the phone won't roam.

and their coverage has stabilized and increased tremendously in the past 3 years. rural southern west virginia, western virginia, and eastern tennessee used to be cellular blackholes but now sprint is the only major carrier with full coverage in those areas.

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By TheSpaniard on 1/9/2009 12:03:57 PM , Rating: 2
I have had free roaming w/ att for a while now

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By Totally on 1/10/2009 2:20:08 AM , Rating: 2
...Aannnnnnd your point? I could wait, I'd just like to hear it that's all.

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By Bender 123 on 1/9/2009 9:24:23 AM , Rating: 3
I agree. A year and a half ago, it was awful...Now, when I do call, I get a real English speaking person. One rep was working and the issue and shock of shocks! HAD A PERSONALITY AND TALKED TO ME ABOUT OTHER THINGS WHILE SHE WORKED!

They have upgraded coverage of 3G, even to Central/Northern Wisconsin. And anybody who likes Verizon will do fine on Sprint and Vice Versa, because they have network reciprocity.

I am slowly becoming a Sprint fan. They now have, for me, the best data, price, and customer service in the industry and the call area is moot due to being able to piggyback Verizon, when needed.

They have me for another 2 years when the Pre comes out.

By mcnabney on 1/9/2009 12:20:15 PM , Rating: 2
The recent telecom edition of Consumer Reports said it all about Sprint. They suck at everything, except price. They may have a 3G network, but it is poorly designed (non-seamless coverage), frequent glitches in hardware (poor maintenance and inadequate testing), and the worst customer service in the industry. Their disaster coverage is non-existent.

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By scavio on 1/8/2009 4:40:09 PM , Rating: 4
Or maybe they should have lauched with T-Mobile like Google did, eh (fourth place)? They managed to sell a few million Centros with Sprint as it's launch partner so it can't be all bad.

By mcnabney on 1/8/2009 5:07:30 PM , Rating: 2
Having a carrier restricted launch gets a manufacture a special fee or special pricing. Companies that are otherwise solid (like RIM or Apple) can do these things. But Palm needs to sell a lot of devices, and quickly at that. They needed to launch this new device, the first premium Palm since the Treo700s, at every major carrier.
The G1 was practically a beta-test and it appealed to the cheap - so T-mobile and their barely-3G network kind-of made sense.

RE: How to lose sales, pick Sprint
By BillyBatson on 1/8/2009 5:48:57 PM , Rating: 2
Sprint has been a long standing partner with Palm and many of Palms initial releases have been with Sprint before versions for other carriers arrived.
I was with sprint for 6 years up until 2 months ago and owned 2 different Treo models in the last 2 years. I am now with AT&T only for the iphone but I miss my Sprint service over AT&T which was superior in every way other than quality phone options.
Though this phone will most likely not live up to the hype just as the BB Storm didn't I can't help but hope a real iphone killer is eventually released for a proper carrier such as Sprint or Verizon so I can switch back.

By Rodney McNaggerton on 1/9/2009 12:36:20 AM , Rating: 3
You should read the ars article on this, it really covers the new UI much better. The new UI system sounds elegant and well thought out, and I think it could definitely be a hit.

Dailytech really doesn't do this new phone justice.

Task-based, not app-based
By ditching the app + window paradigm (which the iPhone still essentially uses) in favor of a card paradigm, Palm was able to invent a truly task-based interface that lets you use the interface to do things, instead of using apps to do things. Let me give an example. Instead of having multiple communications apps on the phone, any of which you can use to carry on a conversation via multiple services, you just open up a single chat card with that user. That chat card hosts a continuous stream of conversation that combines SMS messages and IM in a single, seamless interface and chat experience. That way, the focus is on the conversation, and not the medium (SMS, Gtalk, iChat, AIM, etc.). It's very nice, in an "I want to be able to do that right now on my iPhone" kind of way. Palm has saddled this fantastic approach with an overused buzzword-turned-name: synergy. But, in light of how compelling both the idea and the implementation seem to be (at least based on this staged demo), the annoying name is a minor issue.

By retrospooty on 1/9/2009 9:24:14 AM , Rating: 2
You said it... Sprint paid good money... Or Verizon and ATT dont much trust Palm to put out a product anymore... either way, unlike apple, Palm does not sign exclusivity contracts, so flash forward several months and you will see it available on all major carriers.

By clovell on 1/9/2009 12:41:38 PM , Rating: 2
I won't mod you down, but I will disagree a bit. Launching with another partner would have put the Pre in direct competition with the iPhone and the Storm.

The advantage it has with Sprint is that it has no blockbuster competition within Sprint (no, the BlackJack doesn't count).

Now, let's try something - raise your hand if you like paying to use all your smartphone features a la carte. Not too many people I know do. Sprint's 'everything' plans are an awesome concept. Imagine never having to argue with some sawed-off college dropout at the AT&T outlet again, or calling to figure out a charge. One fee, that's all.

The Pre builds a synergy with Sprint's plans. I think it will do well.

"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton
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