The buzz surrounding the Palm Pre has been nice to watch as it’s not that often we geeks get to see a lot of folks get as excited about a gadget as we do, far too often. The excitement is growing as the Pre launch nears, and in the meantime I’ve been giving a lot of thought about what the Pre must do to have a chance in a crowded smartphone market. I wanted to narrow it down to the one thing the Pre must get right — and that is provide a good web-browsing experience.
I came to that conclusion by analyzing how Apple has achieved success with the iPhone. I know the iPhone does a lot of different things well and the touch interface as implemented goes a long way to making the iPhone a nice phone. However the more I thought about it the more I realized that if the iPhone Safari browser wasn’t as good as it is then the iPhone would not be as popular as it has become. Frankly, there have been many phones prior to the iPhone that did a lot of the things the iPhone does well, but none of them came close to providing as great a browsing experience. Safari does a very good job at making browsing the web on the iPhone much like it does on a full computer.
The Palm Pre must give as good a browsing experience or better as the iPhone or it may fall short in the consumer space. The nice interface and fancy synergy is good and all, but what will be the most apparent to prospective customers is how the web works on the phone. If the Pre browser is a very good one then the Pre will do well as a web device in the pocket, otherwise it’s just another phone. And not as good a one as the iPhone at that. It seems to me that Palm realizes this quite clearly and the preliminary views I’ve seen of the browser look pretty darn good. Let’s hope it meets expectations. We discovered a while back that the Pre browser at the very least seems to be fast, here’s a demo to refresh your memory: