Palm Pre – Nokia, Microsoft, you missed your chance

Palm PreSome of you might know the company Palm. Either because of their PDA’s, when they were still around, or their Treo phones. The latter weren’t really big in Europe. I can only remember one person who actually had a Palm Treo. Palm went from putting their own OS on their device to using Windows Mobile on their more recent models. At CES they came full circle and presented a device that was really necessary for Palm: the Palm Pre with its own operating system calles Web OS.

Until last weeks keynote actually took place most of us weren’t quite sure on how and if Palm would make the turn around. This event was going to be the all or nothing keynote from them. And as far as it looks today, the event turned out to be “all”. Most reactions on the web and from the press were positive.

Looking at who worked on the Palm Pre and the new OS this doesn’t come as a surprise. For example, Jon Rubinstein, Executive Chairman at Palm, helped creating the iPod a few years back.

Similar to the iPhone, the Pre does have a big touchscreen that supports multitouch gestures. But Palm decided against an on-screen keyboard and put in a physical keyboard. While creating the OS, Palm didn’t care about portability with older Palm OS versions. Unlike Nokia, they didn’t decide to pimp their old system and started from scratch. They obviously looked heavily at what the iPhone can and can’t do and went from there. For example it does have that keyboard and supports copy and paste.

Of course nobody yet knows how the Pre and Web OS will really work out for Palm when it’s out some time in the first half of 2009. We neither have a price, but Palm would be dead stupid, if would be anything more expensive than the iPhone.

Since the release of the iPhone the cell phone market got interesting again. Before that everything moved forward at a really slow pace. Apple showed the old players how a phone, especially in combination with its widely used media player iTunes, can be different.

Have you ever updated your regular cell phone before in order to get new or updated features? I’m pretty sure you haven’t. Not too long ago you had to go a store to update your cell phones firmware, and then they “only” brought fixes for problems that shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Nowadays you plug in your phone and update it to get nifty new features like Google Streetview. Before the iPhone, have you ever installed a new application on your phone? Sure, Java made that possible, but finding an application and the actually installing it was never really easy. Have you seen a game like the just recently released SimCity on a Nokia device?

Apple has an easily accessible App Store in iTunes. Google also has an application market on the device. Palm for sure will have the same once the device is out. Getting your apps to a device is an important step. As an individual developer it’s an easy decision where to go, if you have to decide between putting it into your weblog – hoping for someone to find the package – or if you can load it into an application store like iTunes where hundreds if not millions of people will easily be able to find it. Plus, getting paid is much easier this way than setting up your own shopping system.

Developing for the Pre should be really easy for people who know how to code on the web – at least that’s what we are told. Applications are based on HTML, CSS and JavaScript. We’ll have to wait and see if developers will manage to create games for the Pre like they do for the iPhone nowadays.

It’ll be interesting to see how the new Palm will do and how Microsoft and Nokia will handle this mess that they are currently in. They already had two years to react to the iPhone. Google stepped into the game, Palm just made the comeback. Do you still care about Microsoft or Nokia?

To find out about the most important features of the Palm pre, watch this edited video of Palm’s CES keynote: