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Summary:

HP put rumors to bed with the official announcement of both HP webOS 2.0 and the Palm Pre 2. The evolution of the platform and handsets designed for it are the result of HP’s acquisition of Palm earlier this year for $1.2 billion.

Pre 2 landscape

HP put rumors to bed with the official announcement of both HP webOS 2.0 and the Palm Pre 2. The evolution of the platform and handsets designed for it are the result of HP’s acquisition of Palm earlier this year for $1.2 billion. The announcement raises questions about future branding, with webOS now garnering the HP brand (HP webOS 2.0) but the handset retaining the Palm moniker. The Palm Pre 2 will launch Friday in France, and will be coming to Verizon in the U. S. in a few months.

The webOS platform is getting some serious updates in functionality, notably a new UI better optimized for handling multitasking (dubbed Stacks) and Exhibition which provides a vehicle for developers to build apps designed to run when the phone is on the Touchstone wireless charger. Version 2.0 of webOS also gains Adobe Flash 10.1 support for viewing web content.

The Palm Pre 2 is the third generation of the handset line that started the webOS movement. It is more streamlined than previous versions, but is largely unchanged. Sales of the Palm Pre and Pre Plus didn’t set the world on fire, and it’s not clear why HP believes a simple refresh will sell better. Those who follow the smartphone space have been waiting to see what changes to the Palm line HP would bring to the market, and this isn’t much different. HP must be counting on other webOS products to build the platform, but the Pre 2 may be a missed opportunity for the company in the highly competitive smartphone space.

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  1. While I agree that I had hoped (for Palm’s sake) that the Pre2 would be a more substantial upgrade, I can’t help but wonder why people were expecting a release at this point to be heavily influenced by HP. Face it, the Pre2 had to have already been conceived before HP acquired Palm, and sourcing must have already begun. At the time this refresh was being worked, Palm was a nearly broke company in need of help. A major overhaul just wasn’t going to happen.

    Give HP 12 months, then let’s look at what phones are available with WebOS. Those will be the first phones heavily influenced by HP.

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    1. I hear what you’re saying, but where I have a problem with HP is that they are no strangers to the smartphone business. They haven’t rocked the world but have been making them for a decade.

      If they haven’t had time to make a good handset, then my argument still stands. Why introduce yet a third incremental refresh of a handset that has not sold well? Still not sound business, IMHO.

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  2. There is something I’m just not getting with the tech media’s coverage of Palm, HP, the Pre, and WebOS. When WebOS was released, everyone raved about how good and exciting the OS is. Everyone complemented the nice curves of the phone and the good (if not great) keyboard, which allowed the device to provide both a touchscreen and keyboard experience; a little something for everyone. But after a few weeks, there was a backlash. Not enough apps compared to Apple’s offering (despite the fact that the iPhone had been out much longer and WebOS was a brand new operating system, etc., etc.)

    Then Palm launched the phone on other carriers with a slightly higher feature set, and folks complained– “the Pre Plus is what the Pre should have been.”

    Now, the Pre 2 is announced. Same form factor, better specs, upgrades to the OS. Sounds alot like Apple’s strategy with the iPhone– same basic form factor, upgraded specs, upgrades to the OS– and still complaints. “The Pre 2 is what the Pre Plus should have been” (see Engadget for that one). I just don’t know what technology writers are after. The Pre 2 strikes me (an informed technology consumer) as a very solid, exciting device. It doesn’t have to beat every other device to death for me to say that.

    I guess I’m getting rather frustrated with the way smartphones are being discussed and written about, here at JKOTR and elsewhere. I’m disappointed with the constant predictions of device failures before they are even in the hands of consumers or reviewers, whether the Pre or anything Nokia announces. What writers seem to be forgetting is that consumers have different needs, tastes, and budgets (and, as an aside, that Android is not the end all/be all of mobile operating systems, even as good as it is). Writers also ignore their part in whether devices succeed or fail. I’m sure it is comforting to think that you are merely observers, but when you continue to put out negative assessments of devices based on specs alone and sheer speculation (e.g., all the doom and gloom about Nokia and Meego), you shape people’s expectations for and interpretations of devices. As a long-time reader of this site and listener of your podcast, I respectfully say that I would like to see more assessment of what is and less prediction by you and other tech writers. This is something I have been intending to write to you at JKOTHR as well as the folks at Engadget for some time via email. It just spilled out here…

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    1. Well said!

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