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Summary:

This weekend, I entered my sixth month of Palm Pre ownership. Back in June, both James and I purchased a Pre and walked away with good impressions. It’s been a solid and fun ride so far, but I’m regretfully putting my Palm Pre on notice. I’m […]

palm-pre-nfl-mobileThis weekend, I entered my sixth month of Palm Pre ownership. Back in June, both James and I purchased a Pre and walked away with good impressions. It’s been a solid and fun ride so far, but I’m regretfully putting my Palm Pre on notice. I’m going to give the webOS platform another few months to mature. If it doesn’t happen, I suspect I’ll either eat the early termination fee or I’ll add a different phone entirely to my Sprint account. I like the device very much, but I’m routinely carrying two phones because the platform isn’t where it needs to be for me. Many Pre owners are thrilled with their Pre and I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t be. I’m looking specifically at my needs — and they’re not yet met with the Pre. Why is that?

The most glaring deficit is in the available applications. It’s not a question of needing 100,000 to choose from — it’s simply a matter of not having major titles available in the Application Catalog. I realize that Palm hasn’t yet opened up the catalog to everyone, so I don’t entirely blame developers. And I knew in advance that development would be slow for this reason. But I’m getting antsy and tired of waiting. Look at this way — can you name five webOS software titles from major third-party developers? I’m struggling to do so. Even lesser known “brand names” or “web brands” aren’t in the catalog yet. It seems that as each day passes, I hear about a great new app for iPhone or Android, but not for Palm. Recently we mentioned a few of these: Slacker, Photoshop, Remember the Milk to name a few just in the past week or two.

In many cases, I can use the Pre’s web browser to get things done without using a mobile application. Much of my online time is with WordPress, since that’s where this site is hosted. I’m not creating posts on my phones, but I’m reading — and responding to — comments, checking stats, scheduling posts and more. That’s doable in a small browser, but the WordPress iPhone client has me constantly carrying my iPhone in addition to my Pre. And that’s just one of many examples. The few Twitter clients for webOS are usable, but the ones for iPhone and Android are far better in terms of the user experience. Facebook is the same way — in fact, that’s a prime example. Until recently, the limited Facebook web client for mobiles was abysmal to use — I couldn’t even respond to a wall post or comment. It’s much better now, but Facebook on iPhone is where it’s at.

And about that webOS browser — it’s good, but it still needs work. Some of the basic functionality that didn’t work on day one still isn’t there. I still can’t tell where I am on a page because there’s no indicator. And when I try to read a reader comment here on the site, tapping the link to it doesn’t take me to the comment — it simply takes me to the post page where the comment is. I have to manually go and find it myself. Is it any wonder I just use the WordPress client for iPhone?

In any case, I’m committed to give my Pre a fair chance, given the known schedule and constraints. And I do love the hardware as well as the webOS UI. I’ll probably give things until February to sort themselves out. If I don’t see enough progress, I’ll very likely look at what Android 2.0 devices are available at that time. I doubt it will be a Droid though, as I expect even better devices in the first quarter of 2010. Android is far from perfect, but its maturity is happening far faster. And it’s a vicious cycle that puts Palm at a disadvantage — as Android gains market share and features, developers are far more likely to invest their resources in a bigger platform.

Think I’m being to hard on my Palm Pre? Let me know in the comments — just keep in mind that I’m speaking about my own needs. If a webOS device is meeting all of your needs, then you should be happy with your device. I’m not trying to convince you otherwise, nor is this a “jumping on / off the bandwagon” approach. Every one of us should be evaluating the mobile tools we use. If they don’t work, then seeking alternatives is what we should be doing.

  1. I agree with most of your points Kevin, I too feel a bit of Android envy owning a Pre, and I also am disappointed in the lack of good apps. It’s too bad Palm has not yet used WebOS to its full potential, as I feel it’s interface superior to Android. Playing with and HTC Hero this weekend made me miss my WebOS gestures! I don’t know if I can ever go to an iPhone or Android, I just wish Palm would hurry and get more apps!

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    1. I love the user interface of the Pre while I feel that Android’s is a bit “utilitarian.” But it can be improved by Google, HTC or others, so that helps offset some of the lost glitz. A beautiful and intuitive UI is great, but if the platform offers less functionality, the UI alone isn’t enough for me.

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      1. Kevin, I say BlackBerry Storm2 ;) LOL… I can just see that in about a year most smartphone OEM”s will be releasing more Android handsets. I think it will be the next wave of OS. Everyone’s use is different so I can see that some will stay with Palm Pre, BlackBerry, iPhone, etc…

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  2. Surprised blackberry is left out of the conversation. They have a huge installed base.

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    1. so does windows XP

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  3. You sound very reasonable and the points are well taken. The fact that you are happy with the operating system and the hardware is already a major statement. The apps will take care of themselves, as a native Facebook app is coming to webOS next week and the App Catalog is formally opening up in December. No need to panic. Anyone used to using a Palm Pre immediately notices the jarring OS deficiencies in competing platforms. I liken your problem to loving your house but wanting better furniture. Don’t throw out the house – the furniture is fixable!

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  4. I had the Droid envy. After playing with Droid on Friday, I felt that the Droid is not as polished as Pre and that it needs a little work. In fact, Eris felt a lot more polished than Droid. However, if it weren’t for the prohibitively expensive Verizon plans, I would seriously consider it. As such, I will be with Sprint.

    Right now, I have the Pre and my wife has the Hero. I play with my wifes Hero almost everyday. I like it a lot. But Pre is giving me a solid email experience and an okay web browsing experience. Gdial Pro works quite well too.

    But between the App Catalog and homebrew apps, I got nothing. And I feel that thanks to Palm’s slow response to a critical situation, most developers have abandoned ship. And they are not looking back.

    It’s a great platform with tons of potential. It’s sad. But I agree with Kevin. It’s time to put the Pre on notice. I am pretty certain that once there is Android 2.0 device on Sprint, I would part my way with Pre.

    It’s almost like dating a beautiful and smart girl who doesn’t take showers. :(

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    1. More like a beautiful and smart girls who is lazy.

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      1. More like a beautiful smart woman who doesn’t put out.

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  5. I really enjoy my palm pre, much more than the iphone. But I think AT&T is to blame for that. I also find myself 6 months into ownership seriously looking at Android. I chalk it up to the old adage that the grass always looks greener on the other side. My phone does everything I need and want it to do and I like Sprint’s service and price.

    However, it seems that the pre really isn’t doing what you need it to do at this point. I don’t think you are being too hard on it, it seems to have been rather slow to develop. From the sound of it I bet you end up jumping ship.

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  6. I just read today that, hopefully, next month the full app catalog will be released, along with apps from other developers. We’ll see. (sorry I couldn’t find the link again) Personally, I love my pre. I tried the Hero and it just wasn’t as easy to figure out how to navigate different applications. I also really like having a real keyboard.

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    1. You got that one dead on. The Hero, like most Android devices, is surely competent… but I could not figure out how to open several apps at the same time right away. It took me over 10 minutes. Thats a lack of thought in programming. Its not polished, and its not nice to use. It seems like a very generic OS. I doubt 2.0 will fix this. I think it will mainly add new features.

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  7. Kevin, you were spot on. I was an early adopter of the Palm Pre. It was (in my eyes) the closet thing to an iPhone without the restrictions and limitation of the iPhone/Apple/AT&T. I knew I would have to wait a little while for apps before they started rolling out.

    I remember reading an article on PreCentral.net that stated Palm advised that they were “overwhelmed with app submissions” and hired 1 or was it two extra people? Either way, if they’re so overwhelmed why are they releasing 1-2 apps per day?

    It’s clear to me that when they’re publishing homebrew apps in their app catalog they aren’t so “overwhelmed” with apps from known brands. And therein lies the disappointment. I’m OK with only being able to chose from 300 or so apps for a while, but at the very least can we get 300 useful, diverse apps? I’m sick of seeing flash cards, tip calculators, etc. They don’t have one compelling application that makes you say “WOW, did you see that app WebOS had”? For example, if they released SlingPlayer they would have one-upped Android. If they released an Official Google Voice client they would have one-upped Apple/iPhone. But that didn’t focus on attracting popular developers. Hell even if they had to pay them a little bit to rush development for their platform over iPhone (like that would happen) or Android.

    I think WebOS is awesome. The multitasking is smooth, the phone is great (though people bitch about the keyboard I like it). My main grip is lack of apps.

    I knew Android would be my next move, I simply hadn’t been happy with 1.5 and 1.6. So I held out for the HTC Hero on Sprint, I realized I hate not having a physical keyboard. Then I was sad to hear the Samsung Moment used a ARM11 processor instead of Cortex A8.

    In the end, I gave up Sprint and the Pre and went with a Motorola Droid.

    Let me say this is the best Android phone I’ve ever used, I’m a phone freak so I’ve used everything. Next to the iPhone this is the best experience ever maybe even better. It’s fast, doesn’t bog down, real keyboard, not much thicker than iPhone, multitasks, and has a ton of apps. Sure Apple has 100,0000 or something but how many of those apps are actually useful? I haven’t run across a situation where I said “I wish I had an app to do…” every app I’ve needed I was able to find in the Android app store.

    Having previously tried slow HTC Qualcomm 528Mhz Android devices and Android 1.5 and 1.6 with it’s atrociously slow browser, I can finally say without doubt that the Moto Droid is a great phone and has sufficient apps.

    I’m an IT geek so I can deal with not having a user interface experience that’s super easy. Apple has that down. Android takes some getting used to for your non-tech savvy but I love 2.0 and Droid.

    I think WebOS is great but I also believe it’s going to be a niche operating system. I don’t think it’s going to gain wide popularity or developer support. Which is a shame because WebOS as built well though there are still a number of issues and features that need to be worked out. And STOP with the damn iTunes back and forth already. I left Apple/iPhone and AT&T to get away from that proprietary phone and proprietary resource hog called iTunes. Very unprofessional that they advertise iTunes support for the Pre by means of some weekly hack they implement. That’s so tacky Palm!

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    1. @Derrick, @Kevin,

      I absolutely agree with you guys. I’ve been in contract with my carrier and will be for the next 6 months so when the Pre came out on June 6, I was simply an interested bystander (though one who drooled at the chance of following my treo up with a Pre).

      Month by month though, I’d notice the lack new apps and found it so frustrating (since I considered myself a future Pre owner and Palm loyal). And again you’re right, most of the apps were trivial and painfully repetitive. It was horrible each time when I read the Palm press releases dismissing the urgency and importance of having developers deploy at full speed writing code. And now, Android has really begun looking like a viable option.

      I still am still waiting to for an unlocked gsm version of a preferred phone to use on my carrier so hopefully when that time comes I’ll know how the webOS saga turns out.

      Until then thank you both for really breaking it down to the core issues.

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      1. Wow, there’s a lot of passion about this. It’s definately lack of the apps – undeveloped browsers to just another weather application.

        Now in January the phone overall is much better than it used to be. Unlike others, I have never had blowups or freezes and the last couple of upgrades have been pretty cool. So it does basically do what I need it to do.

        However…it is STILL painful to still see important apps come out that say, “***** can run on PC, Mac, iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Mobile 2.0, Arrdvarks, Wii, all microwave appliances dating back to 1978 and… (tadaaaa!) now on Android.”

        In other days a manufacturer paid the cool apps to get them on their hardware to make sure they didn’t look backward. Maybe being on Verizon will help. After all while Sprint can roam free on Verizon for voice so you get to benefit from that, Verizon has a better red map (more peeps – g). Can’t go back to AT&T – while they say they have a great blue map that doesn’t help much if you can’t stay connected.

        One note – if better apps come out that ONLY work on the Palm Plus or Pixi Plus – well…that would end my interest right there. What the heck is a “instantly create your own hotspot for up to five devices with the new Palm mobile hotspot app” and why doesn’t my Palm have one?

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  8. Forgive my typos! I rushed that post.

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  9. 9 days with pre and I am impressed w/few apps I have used. Friend owns G1 and he was impressed with youtube app. More apps and better battery life is what I’m asking for.

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  10. The apps are what is bothering me about the Pre. I love my Pre and love the way it moves and feels. It is the basic functionality that my Centro gave me that Pre still lacks:

    – Forwarding text mssgs
    – Different notification sounds for emails, txt, etc.
    – Ringers are awful
    – WebOS needs maturity. It still feels very basic.
    – And apps. I can’t stand the Facebook App. It is awful

    I don’t want to leave Palm, but if I don’t see improvement with Updates, I will be heading to HTC or something else.

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    1. You said it all..I will just like to add to add Battery life!

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