“Palm Inc stole the limelight at the Consumer Electronics Show by unveiling a new touch-screen phone and mobile operating system that doubled its share price overnight.
But investors may be celebrating too soon.
Analysts gave a thumbs-up to the new Palm Pre smartphone and webOS operating system, but said it was too early to conclude that the long-awaited new products can rescue Palm, which has lost both market share and cachet to Apple Inc’s iPhone and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry.
They said important questions remain unanswered, including price, how quickly Palm can bring the device to market, and how long the phone would be exclusive to subscribers of Sprint Nextel Corp, the weakest of the top three U.S. mobile services.
“Palm remains a ‘show-me’ story in our view, with its turnaround dependent upon execution and financial performance beyond webOS and Pre’s initial debut,” said Mike Abramsky, RBC analyst who reiterated his “sector perform.” “
If you are one of Palm’s customers who prefer a traditional PDA to that of a smartphone, you will be happy to know that you can still buy a handheld, the TX, Z22, or the Tungsten E2, directly from Palm.
I do want to warn everyone that Palm’s CEO Ed Colligan did say that the company was no longer developing new PDAs, so if you have been holding out a new PDA to upgrade to, it looks like you are out of luck. That said, I own a Palm TX and it is a full featured PDA that will be up to whatever task you need to throw at it.
For more information about the current PDA line up, visit Palm’s online store…
With today’s exciting announcement of the Palm Pre, we have to say goodbye to our old friends, “Palm OS II” and “Nova.” The next generation Palm device will be powered by the successor to Palm OS 5, a new operating system called Palm webOS.
Palm webOS, or just “webOS”, is a completely new direction for Palm. The first thing that strikes you about webOS is that it has a clean multi-touch based user interface (UI). There are only minimal on screen buttons when you are in an application and you can forget about the cheap feeling plastic stylus than comes with the Centro. Pre, the first device powered by webOS, uses your finger for navigation and control of the device. If you are a complusive texter or send a lot of email, webOS also supports the slide out keyboard found on the Pre.
I’m also excited to report that many of the long standing issues with Palm OS have been addressed in webOS. webOS brings multitasking to the table along with things like support for multiple radios. In the past, it was impossible to have a Palm OS device that had Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a cellular radio. webOS not only makes it possible to have all three radios active, Palm’s Pre will have all three wireless technologies and GPS built-in.
For all of the “new-ness” that is webOS, there are still some questions that I would like to see answered. I did no read about a Palm OS emulation (POSE) mode in webOS. Without a POSE layer in webOS, it will be impossible to run applications from the vast Palm OS library on the Pre. webOS also brings back “drive mode” which allows you to connect a device, like the Pre, to your computer and use it like a USB mass storage device. Many people, myself included, think that is great, but where is the microUSB card slot?
During their product demonstration for the Pre, Palm talked about Synergy, a new data colleciton engine that brings all of your separate bits of information into a single location; a webOS powered device. The quesions I have are: Will Synergy replace the HotSync Manager? And if so, how does data from Palm Desktop get into your webOS powered device? Will there be a replacement application for Palm Desktop? Will Palm serve up their own cloud solution or will customers be forced to migrate their PIM data from Palm Desktop and move into web portables from Google, Yahoo, and America Online? Inquiring minds want to know. Questions like these aside, webOS is a powerful mobile OS that allows you to focus on what is important to you.
webOS is such a breath of fresh air, it is incredible. I have waited a long time for this day to come. Palm has packed so many new things into webOS that it is a radical departure from what we knew this morning; and yet, there is still enough of Palm OS’ heritage in webOS that it somehow still seems familiar. After having used Palm OS devices everyday now for over nine years, not much has changed with how people interact with Palm OS. Someone who has used the original Palm Pilot with Palm OS 1.0 can pickup a Centro with Palm OS 5.4.9 and get back to work in just a few minutes.
webOS is the shot in the arm that Palm really needed to help drive new hardware designs with an intuitive way to work. webOS captures the essance of “The Zen of Palm” and brings it to a whole new level. I am really looking forward to taking the new Palm Pre and webOS out for a test drive. It is going to blow you away.
Photo courtesy of TreoCentral.
PalmInfoCenter.com is reporting that Sprint has posted a Palm Pre teaser page with a link to sign up to be notified when the Pre goes on sale later this year.
“Wasting no time after the announcement of Palm’s next-gen hardware and software, Sprint has posted a teaser page showing the Palm Pre in all of its keyboard-exposed glory. While the device is still undergoing certification and final testing, as stated by Ed Colligan earlier today at Palm’s event, they claim to be doing everything in their power to bring this highly-anticipated device to market “as soon as possible” within the first half of 2009.”
Eric Savitz, of Barron’s Tech Trader Daily, managed to get some clarifications about the Pre smartphone earlier today from Palm’s CEO Ed Colligan.
- Pricing: It’s up to Sprint to set the street price, and you don’t want to do it until closer to launch, given the competitive environment.
- Exclusivity for Sprint: “It’s a launch exclusive. Not forever.”
- Non-U.S. markets: The big opportunity is not in other CDMA markets, but in UMTS markets; he says they will have a UMTS version, which is on the same development cycle as the CDMA version. The CDMA version will launch first, but the other version will follow soon after. He says the Pre will launch in markets outside the U.S. before the end of the year.
- Will they license the platform to other hardware vendors? Not yet. “We’ve looked at the pros and cons,” he says. “I would not rule it out absolutely. It makes no sense until you have a critical mass of products running on the platform, and it has an established position. Today it would be the wrong thing to do.”
- An enterprise product, or a consumer product? He says they have targeted “the fat middle.” It works with Exchange out of the box. “We’re really targeting busy people on the go. We’re hopeful the design will appeal to a lot of people.”
- Big marketing campaign coming? Oh, yeah. And today was really the start of it.
- What about the other Palm phones? Colligan notes that the just launched the Treo Pro, which he says is the best Windows Mobile product on the market, for enterprise customers. And they continue to sell the Centro for teens and young adults.
- Who actually makes the phone? A major Asian ODM. But not HTC.
- Is there any removable storage in the phone? No.
- On the timing of launching during a recession: “I feel pretty good about this category, relative to 90% of the other businesses in the world,” he says. “People are pretty dedicated to their handsets. It’s a reasonably protected area, although who knows?”
I think of all that I have seen and read about the Palm Pre, the lack of removable storage, a lack of a microSD card slot, is like jumping into a pool of ice cold water. By all accounts, the Pre looks like it is everything Palm needs it to be. But considering how quickly I can fill up my 16GB iPod touch, I have to wonder if 8GB of non-expandible memory is going to be enough space once the Pre gets out into the wild.
A very excited Roger McNamee, of Elevation Partners, talks about the new Palm Pre smartphone with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo. Click the picture to watch the video.
[Thanks to Spencer for sending this tip in.]
Palm has posted what appears to be the complete list of product specifications. There is a lot of tech packed in this 3.9 x 2.3 x 0.67-inch 4.76 ounce mobile wonder.
- Palm® webOS™
- 3G EVDO Rev A
- 3.1-inch touch screen
- 24-bit color
- 320×480 resolution HVGA display
- Physical QWERTY keyboard (slide out)
- Microsoft Outlook® email with Microsoft® Direct Push Technology
- POP3/IMAP (Yahoo, Gmail, AOL, etc)
- Integrated IM, SMS, and MMS
- Built-in GPS
- 3 megapixel camera with LED flash and extended depth of field
- Ambient light
- Audio Formats: MP3, AAC, AAC+, AMR, QCELP, WAV
- Video Formats: MPEG-4, H.263, H.264
- Image Formats: GIF, Animated GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP
- Wi-Fi 802.11b/g with WPA, WPA2, 801.1x authentication
- Bluetooth® 2.1 + EDR with A2DP stereo Bluetooth support
- 8GB of user storage (~7.4GB user available)
- USB mass storage support
Phone as laptop modem
- Bluetooth tethering
- MicroUSB connector with Hi-Speed USB 2.0
- 3.5mm stereo headphone jack
- Palm® Touchstone™ charging dock
- Width: 59.5mm (2.3 inches)
- Height: 100.5mm (3.9 inches)
- Thickness: 16.95mm (0.67 inches)
- Weight: 135 grams (4.76 ounces)
For many Palm OS fans, today is a big day. It is widely expected that Palm will unveil their next generation mobile operating system, the successor to Palm OS 5, codenamed “Nova.” Palm will be holding an invitation only press event at 2pm ET/11am PT to talk about all the “new-ness” they have been working on.
This will not be the first time that we have talked about the successor to Palm OS. Before ‘Palm OS II” and “Nova” we had “Palm OS 6.0”, “Palm OS Cobalt”, “Palm OS for Linux”, and most recently, “ALP.” Today has been a long day coming for the Palm OS user community, and I hope that what Palm shows off today will have been well worth the wait.
I have not read whether or not Palm will have a live or recorded video of today’s event, however, Palm has said that during the event, the company’s blog will receive live updates.
I’ll have a wrap up of the day’s news later today.
Did anyone else notice that Palm’s website received a face life today? Did anyone also notice that the Centro is the only Palm OS device that is listed on the main splash page and on the interior support page? All of the PDAs and Palm OS Treo smartphones are now in the “View All Devices” section of the support page.
I’m glad to see that the marketing department has woken up from their long Rip Van Winkle slumber.
Are the winds of change really blowing at Palm? Be sure to check the Palm site again on January 8th.