Palm Pre: Can it live up to the hype, or will it flop?

The decision to launch the Pre just two days before Apple's World Wide Developer Conference is risky, but understandable

The Palm Pre smartphone emerged as one of the most talked-about items unveiled at January's 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Palm Pre smartphone emerged as one of the most talked-about items unveiled at January's 2009 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Finally: The Palm Pre has a confirmed availability date and price tag attached to it. iPhone Killer, Palm's Hail Mary, or a complete flop--we'll finally see what the hype is all about. Keeping their promise of a "first half of 2009" launch date, Sprint and Palm announced that the long-awaited Pre will hit stores June 6 for US$200 with a two-year contract. The phone will be sold at Sprint stores, Best Buy, Radio Shack and select Wal-Mart stores.

It's been a long and slightly frustrating journey, however. At CES, hands-on time was heavily restricted with the Pre, which was baffling. Sure, the Pre's ergonomic hardware looks sexy and its webOS software seems mighty efficient, but how can we judge without actually touching the thing? Then there were the numerous "leaked" launch date rumors and Sprint and Palm's refusal to comment on any of them--these leaks are beginning to feel de-rigeur for any high-profile product launch.

Sprint and Palm's overprotectiveness, combined with their tight-lipped stance on pricing and availability has raised some suspicions--including my own--about whether the CES announcement was a bit, well premature (pun intended). It isn't a question of whether the world is ready for the Pre, but vice versa. Do Palm and Sprint know what they're doing?

The decision to launch the Pre just two days before Apple's World Wide Developer Conference is risky, but understandable. Clearly, it will distract from the chatter about Apple's third-generation iPhone software and hardware. Much is known about the iPhone OS 3.0 software by now, but nothing concrete is known about the hardware. Apple may announce the third-generation iPhone hardware at WWDC.

The pro here is that the Pre launch could overshadow whatever Apple has up its sleeve. But it could also delay launch day sales, as consumers may hold off on buying a Pre until Apple's announcement. One has to wonder, too, whether Palm and Sprint felt rushed to make this date. It would be a huge letdown if the Pre's debut was marred by firmware bugs like the initial release of the RIM BlackBerry Storm.

I have high hopes though, as both a journalist and a consumer. The iPhone and BlackBerry-centric smartphone world desperately needs to be shaken up. Android isn't quite there yet, but I think the Pre (and the subsequent webOS devices) has what it takes. And despite my limited hands-on time, I can't forget the silky operation of webOS. From the deck of cards model for managing multitasking to the Synergy e-mail and IM interfaces, webOS might be one of the best-designed, user-friendly smartphone platforms out there. June 6 can't come fast enough.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags smartphonesiPhonePalmPalm Pre

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ginny Mies

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?