Without doubt the biggest story to come out of CES was from Palm (NSDQ: PALM), with its new OS and its new handset Pre. Everyone was paying attention: Even those who doubted Palm would release anything good knew that if it didn’t, the company would effectively be finished. There is a rumor flying around that the handset will be $399 with a 2-year contract with Sprint (NYSE: S) (Mobile Burn), although obviously that’s not confirmed. Palm has said the cost will be competitive, but CEO Ed Colligan replied to a question from All Things Digital about whether then device would cost less than the iPhone’s $199, by saying: “Why would we do that when we have a significantly better product?” There will also be a GSM/UMTS model announced in the next few months.
In general, Palm (and its backers) must be pleased with the response — accolades are everywhere and the share price jumped by a third. Tricia said she was most impressed with how easy it is to find things on the handset and the web. Here are some of the main responses:
— Engadget: The Palm Pre got a big thumbs up from Engadget, for example: “The UI outclasses most of its competition on a number of levels, and actually may be quite a bit more revolutionary than the iPhone.” That’s high praise.
— Gizmodo: To avoid any doubt Gizmodo titled its preview article Simply Amazing. Every aspect gets a good review except the overall design, which is a personal preference thing. And this line at the bottom: “It transcends what a mobile device should feel like.” There are also some video tours.
— GigaOM: There was at least one bad report, with Om Malik slamming the device as “woefully behind the curve” and dismissing most of the features as currently available on other smartphones. I reckon Palm is on the crest of the curve, but agree with Om that if the “first half 09” release date is more than a few months in it’s going to lose its shine. He also doubted the ability of Palm to attract developers.
— NYT Bits: Developers were also the focus of this Bits interview with Palm executive chairman Jon Rubinstein, recognized the importance of developers.