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06 May 2010

Palm Pre: Failure to Launch

Those of you that have read this blog before probably know that I obsessed over the Palm Pre for close to 6 months before its arrival. I stood in line to get it and have now had it for close to a year. So here is my final review of the Palm Pre on the Sprint Network:

  • Sprint plans: Awesome
  • Sprint coverage: Awesome
  • Sprint customer service: Used to be the worst but is getting much better
  • Palm Pre hardware: Not great at all. Plastic that cracks easily, hard to protect, slider is easily damaged, battery is easily jarred which restarts the phone, screen is highly finger-print sensitive, on/off button sticks on my phone, have to use Palm certified recharging products or recharging won't start immediately.
  • Palm WebOS: Great idea. The future is: Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS). Hopefully HP will squeeze every ounce of usefulness out of this genuinely innovative concept and make it useful on a variety of platforms (like a tablet perhaps?)
  • Palm WebOS functionally: My Pre has never felt fast. There has always been a lag in the responsiveness of the tough screen and the ease with which programs will start and run well. Games take relatively long to load and I've had a few that won't start due to their size. I routinely see the "Too many cards open" warning which basically means a restart.
  • Palm Follow-through: Very poor. When I bought the phone it came with the promise of any number of things like flash compatibility, video recording, mobile document creation, etc. We just received video recording in the last OS update but the other two are still MIA.
  • Palm Touchstone: Awesome idea and works well. I'm assuming this will be a feature accessory for many new phones in the future.
  • Connection troubles: I've noticed that the Pre has a problem figuring out whether or not to use the Sprint Network or the Wi-fi at times. If the Wi-fi is available but hasn't been authenticated (like at a hotel or restaurant) certain Apps (like Tweed) stop working. You have to either authenticate or turn off the Wi-fi in order to refresh Twitter. Seems like the phone should know that and force the App to use the Sprint Network.
  • Over the Air (OTA) OS Updates: Awesome - works well - can't complain.
  • OTA OS Updates (actual content): Nothing to write home about. Palm has the perfect scenario - the ability to fix bugs immediately and push it to every Pre out there. But instead they wait months to roll out updates that on my Pre seem to do nothing. Small tweaks and slightly different functionality, but nothing major. AND! Half the time I have problems after the updates! Decreased battery life, camera takes 3x longer to take the picture and locks up the phone after the shot, Google Maps takes a lot longer to open and rarely works correctly now, etc.
In Summary
Palm was failing big time so they stepped out of the box and went for it all with WebOS and the Palm Pre. On the one hand they hit it big. New technology that made Apple, RIM and Google go, "Oh my word...we better get on that..." But I just don't think Palm had the time and money to completely knock it out of the park - which became even more evident this past month when HP bought them out.

In this day and age, you have to offer a product with the latest technology out of the box. Chances are the consumer will only have your product for 24 months. In my case I feel like upgrading in 10-12 months. So you can't put out a product that is lagging and say, "We'll roll that out in Q2 next year." That business plan just doesn't cut it any more.

So I want to commend Palm for their effort. And I wish them well in the future as they partner with HP and look for new innovative ways to use WebOS.

But for me, I think I'm ready to try something new. I've held off on the whole Android craze because just like everything else Google does, it starts in the roughest of beta and remains there for a while until all the kinks are worked out. But once they get the kinks worked out - they seem to be able to use the latest technology and stay at the top of the game.

Because of this I feel like the most recent Android phones to hit the market have the perfect combination of a stable/consistent Android OS coupled with hardware that takes it to the next level.

The HTC Incredible and HTC Evo 4G have caught my eye and in June I just might pull that trigger.

This in part because I don't think I have the patience to wait until December to see what Microsoft Windows Phone 7 phones will look like and be capable of. So for now I'll leave you with the HTC Evo 4G and it's rich feature set...