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Palm Pre borrows from iPhone, but shows promise

updated 10:45 am EST, Fri January 9, 2009

Needham on Palm Pre

Palm's new Pre smartphone borrows heavily from the Apple iPhone, but shows a lot of promise, writes Needham analyst Charlie Wolf. Palm announced the Pre at a major CES event on Thursday, revealing a device with features signature to the iPhone, such as an accelerometer and multi-touch controls. Wolf argues that the phone may in fact be better in some regards, particularly in terms of its ability to sync contacts and calendars across numerous devices.

The Pre also relies on a new "card" metaphor for its interface, which lets users quickly switch between entire applications in the same way that Safari switches between browser tabs. Pre owners should also have advantages such as a physical keyboard, and being able to launch apps from anywhere in the phone's OS, instead of having to return to a home screen.

Wolf comments however that Palm does not appear to be interested in competing with the media functions of the iPhone, or the e-mail capabilities of RIM's BlackBerry phones. He suggests that the Pre is instead targeted at people buying their first smartphone, though this may still put it in competition with the iPhone.

The Pre's biggest limitation may in fact be the initial choice of carrier, as it will be an exclusive to Sprint during launch. Wolf describes Sprint as "fast fading," and proposes that if the Pre is to become a real success, it will need to have models for other carriers such as Verizon and AT&T.

by MacNN Staff



  1. slapppy

    Joined: Dec 1969



    LOL... More like blatantly copied it.

  1. mjtomlin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    a new "card" metaphor

    Is this anything like HyperCard? If so, I would hardly call it "new". For those that don't know, HyperCard was released in 1984 or 1985 and was the inspiration for the WWW. It was a complete object-oriented system with message passing and object scripting akin to JavaScript and the DOM in modern browsers.

  1. shmoolie

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Pre... not going to save Palm, only stave off for a year or so their inevitable death. Palm has one big problem and that is that their brand has become associated with failure.

    They have spent the last 5 years in the PDA wilderness as their market share has shrunk and their Palm OS has become a laughingstock among users and IS management.

    In the meantime RIM has grabbed almost all their market-share and Apple took the remaining and is even more of a stronger competitor for the types of people who use Palms than RIM.

    RIP Palm.

  1. luckyday

    Joined: Dec 1969


    mac geniuses

    I think apple stole the accelerometer from my old Canon digital camera.

    Besides wasn't palm the real founder of the touchscreen PDA? If anything Palm is only expanding on its own technology.

    And Mjtomlin... NO! Why do you think that? Because they both contain the word "card"? Why don't you read the description? And who gave that comment a thumbs up? Unbelievable.

  1. resuna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Corporate ADHD

    This makes, what, the fifth or sixth operating system Palm's fielded in the past decade?

    They need to pick one and stick to it, instead of ... oooh, donuts!

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: a new "card"

    ...and was the inspiration for the WWW.

    Oh, that's a new one! Now not only is Apple responsible for the GUI, but they invented the World Wide Web as well!

    Man, is there nothing Steve Jobs and Apple haven't done?

  1. ff11

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I believe accelerometers have been around much longer than your Canon digital camera. I'm not sure who originated the idea of using them as a control device, but I suspect it is an old idea. And Palm as the oroginator of touch screen PDAs?!?!? How do you figure that?

  1. ff11

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I suspect you are a careful enough reader to have noted that he never claimed Apple "invented the World Wide Web". Honestly I'm not sure what people expect to gain from this line of reasoning. I guess you thought you were being cute.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Testudo always thinks he's being cute. Sometimes, as though by accident, he makes a salient point. Most of the time, however, he comes across as one of those people who think they know it all. He also seems to take offense at most things pro-Apple, no matter what the context.

  1. cmoney

    Joined: Dec 1969



    yeah you guys need to look up xanadu for the first hypertext system. goes back to the 60s.

    the modern web didn't have javascript originally. it was pure hypertext.

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