Say it Ain’t So Rich, a Palm Pre?

Rich (@rmanalan), a borderline Apple fanboi, told me just weeks ago when I was contemplating my iPhone dilemma, that he’d never give up his iPhone. They’d have to pry it from his cold, dead fingers.

Apparently, Rich died, and his alien leaders haven’t done their homework because he told me yesterday he had given his iPhone to his wife and was currently rocking a Palm Pre.

I nearly rolled off the exercise ball I use as a chair.

What happened?

He assured me it wasn’t an alien invasion, but I was expecting that. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

So, we chatted a bit about the device and what he liked about it. I’m actually pretty familiar with the Palm Pre and its (very few) apologists, since I have friend (@unclenate) whom I like to tease about his Pre fanboi-ism.

It’s actually a pretty slick device, and if there weren’t an iPhone, it would give the Android devices a run for their money.

I’m not by any means a Palm hater either. I had one of the first 3Com-branded PalmPilots way back in the day. I probably still have it in a box somewhere in the basement.

The PalmPilot was the iPhone of the mid-to-late 90s. It allowed you to carry your calendar, to-dos, contacts and more all in a pocket-sized device. Plus, it even had add-on apps. It was way ahead of its time, and only the Blackberry could rival its coolness and popularity (at least among business types) during its heyday.

I eventually upgraded to the sleekier Palm V, which had a nice brushed aluminum bezel, but no major feature updates on the OS side. That one, I think got sold in a garage sale some years ago.

Even after I stopped using the device, I held on to Palm Desktop as my calendar app until a few years ago. Force of habit.

My wife’s first (second and third) smartphones were all Treos, which she adored, until the iPhone came along.

So, I’ve definitely given Palm a chance.

If you study the history of Palm, you’ll find a lot of twists and turns, ownership changes, political jockeying and intrigue. Even so, a lot of people (myself included) were excited when Palm announced its iPhone killer, the Pre, at CES in January 2008.

Cut to today, when I read that Palm’s share of the smartphone market dropped 2.1% between October 2009 and January 2010. Doesn’t sound so bad until you see that Palm’s share in October 2009 was only 7.8%.


So, what happened to Palm? By all accounts (well, two anyway), the Pre is a decent little device. I’m not alone in being creeped out by their initial ad campaign, but was that what did in the Pre and its siblings?

Anyway, this is good news for our team because instead of being three iPhone bigots and one Android guy (Anthony), we’ll now be much more balanced team with access to more mobile OS for tinkering.

If only we could find the time to tinker . . . more on that to come.

Thoughts on Rich’s turnabout or Palm?

Find the comments.




  1. Rich traded his iPhone for a Palm what…? … 🙂 I think if I ever trade my iPhone would be for a Nexus One … I think Palm Pre went to the market with lack of support of an App Store like Palms or Android… It seems the device is cool and the main differentiation was the multitask feature… which Nexus one has it and even iPhone has it for Apple's apps…

    I personally got annoyed with Palm's process to become a member of their Mojo SDK developers network… Palm wanted to charge a fee of 20 dlls and it took them forever to rollout their SDK to the public… by the time they offer me an account I was turned off… Palm even waived their 20 dlls fee…

    Mojo SDK had a smilar sad story as Google Wave and their process to roll out Wave Sandboxes … Wave nowadays is some kind of a Ghost Town… I think Palm needs to figure what would be the next big killer element in their platform to even try to compete with Android and the iPhone…. maybe a killer iPad Pre? 😉 Cheers

  2. Heh… nice post Jake. I'm growing fond of my Pre. I had to exchange the Touchstone today though… defective. Anyway, the Pre bests the iPhone in a few categories and one of them is the phone feature. It's a really good phone… not one dropped call and most calls are crystal clear. My iPhone dropped calls left and right. Just a tip for Apple, if you're going to put the word “phone” in the name of your product, make sure that that feature works well.

    Ok, maybe that's not fair. AT&T is mostly to blame in the iPhone's lack of a perfect 10. Regardless, my Pre is pretty darn sweet. The touchstone charging dock rocks. It's significantly faster than my iPhone 3G. Multitasking is super nice… something that's refreshing to have after coming from an iPhone. As for the apps… most of the ones I care about are there… yelp, twitter, nytimes/latimes (the LA Times app kicks ass), pandora, and a few others. I've spent a lot of money on iPhone apps… I should tally how much, but I know it's a lot. Apps on the Pre aren't exactly cheap. Most are over $.99. So far, I've only bought one app… a Netflix app that allows me to manage my queue (which I used a lot on my iPhone).

    So, all in all, I'm happy. And more importantly, Mrs. Manalang is happy now that she's a proud owner of an iPhone 3G — yes, call me cheap… I even got the Pre for free through the Oracle/Sprint plan. Times are tough man.

  3. I don't like the device. Why do you need both a soft and tactile keypad? Having a keypad limits the screen size and adds more moving parts.

    The OS and apps look sharp, but the device is a killer.

  4. Dude, totally unfair, the “iPhone is not a good phone” argument is AT&T's fault, not Apple's. I guess it's not cold turkey though, especially wrt to your app purchases. Don't you still have the Touch?

  5. I had the same two Palm devices, the original Palm and the Palm V, I cam across both recently when I was sorting out some boxes in the garage. I used to synch My Yahoo from my desktop at work and read it on my palm on the train home – it was indeed way ahead of it's time.

  6. Too bad they had such a bumpy history of acquisitions, spin-offs, IPOs, more acquisitions, talent loss (and return). Wonder what they could have accomplished otherwise.

  7. It is Apple's fault for not allowing their phone to be on another network… and no, T-Mobile is just as sh*tty as AT&T which is why I don't get why people want to jailbreak for that.

    Re: the Touch, it's on my desk gathering dust. I'm a one gadget man. I'm not into switching devices as much as I used to. Re: the apps, my wife still has most of them on her phone so I have no regrets.

  8. Hi Kuramoto,

    Sadly Palm is Dead 🙂 Hey is not only me, check at Kevin Rose video about the Palm is Dead, he just posted it a few days ago and it is like he was or I was reading his mind… check at what he said… it is the same thing I said about their operating system and their Mojo SDK … they took too long to release it to developers, there are no applications our there and it is not sexy enough to compete with the iPhone or Nexus One

  9. Well, if Kevin Rose says so, it must be true 🙂 I agree Palm botched the Pre. With all the buzz that came out of CES back in 2009, they had a real shot at being the #2 horse in the smartphone race. Oh well.

  10. Well, if Kevin Rose says so, it must be true 🙂 I agree Palm botched the Pre. With all the buzz that came out of CES back in 2009, they had a real shot at being the #2 horse in the smartphone race. Oh well.

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