10 June 2009

Video: Palm Pre - A Launch Guide

09 06 2009 - The buzz has been building over the last few months around the newest challenger to the iPhone: the Palm Pre. Today marks the arrival of the new Palm smartphone in stores across the U.S. With its ability to run multiple applications at the same time and a touchscreen interface similar to the iPhone, it’s no wonder that people are standing in long lines to become the first to have the device in their hands.

Palm Pre ImageSince Palm Pre mania is just gearing up, you may not know a lot about this new smartphone. What can the Palm Pre do? What applications can you download with it? Is it better than the iPhone? While we can’t answer all of these questions, we’re hoping this short guide will give you better understanding of Palm’s new phone and what it could mean for the mobile market and social media.

Palm Pre: the basics

If you haven’t been following Palm Pre news, here’s the basic gist: it’s a smartphone with a lot of features similar to the iPhone. The phone has most of the standard functionality you’d expect in an iPhone competitor: camera, MP3 player, Wi-Fi, GPS, Internet browsing, 8 GB of storage, accelerometer, and Bluetooth functionality. However, here are some of the features that have people really buzzing:

3.1 inch capacitive touchscreen: The touchscreen display may be smaller than the iPhone’s 3.5 display, but it provides a lot of the same functionality. The key is that a lot of the gestures used on the iPhone, like pinching to zoom out, are available on the Pre. It also dims and ignores touch when placed next to the face, like the iPhone.

Physical keyboard: While a lot of people are happy with the touchscreen keyboard of the iPhone, others like the feel of actual keys in their hands. The Palm Pre has a slide-out keyboard that is preferred by some individuals.

Wireless charging: The Pre utilizes electromagnetic induction to fill its battery power when docked, although a USB cable can also charge the phone.

WebOS: The Palm Pre’s operating system is a Linux-based system which allows for multitasking, applications, and social media integration.

Background applications: Perhaps the biggest buzz surrounds the Pre’s ability to run multiple applications at the same time. The system is called “Cards” to handle the multitasking of applications.

Palm Pre applications

If you care about social media like we do, then applications may be the most important aspect of the Palm Pre. After all, the iPhone has thousands of applications with over one billion downloads, so clearly apps are important to the mobile consumer.

While the Palm has nowhere near the same number of applications as the iPhone, it does come with some important apps that should fulfill your social media needs. These include access to some of the most vital social tools around, including Yelp, YouTube, Google Maps, Pandora, and LinkedIn.

If you’re a fan of Twitter, there is at least one app, Tweed, available. Of course, we expect many more to appear as more developers take the time to build apps for the new Palm WebOS.

Today’s product launch

Today, June 6th, is the official launch day for the Palm Pre. The Pre is a Sprint phone, and thus is available at Sprint stores across the country. It’s also available at some electronics retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart. It retails for $199.99 if you purchase it with a Sprint service agreement.

Lines have built up for the new phone, ranging from a dozen people to 50+ (there are some great photos over at Engadget). Overall, this is smaller than the lines seen for the iPhone 3G, but is still an early indication of high consumer demand and an early hit for Palm and Sprint.

If you’re looking to buy one today, you’re probably out of luck, as most stores have sold out their inventory of phones.

What should we expect from the Pre?

Palm Pre Image

The Pre may be generating a ton of buzz now, but that doesn’t mean it will become a viable competitor to the iPhone. Pre chose to launch two days before Apple’s WWDC Conference, where they could very well launch the next generation of iPhone and take back the attention. Yet from the early reviews, this phone seems to have gotten a lot of things right.

We think that competition is almost always a good thing. It fosters innovation, makes companies responsive to consumer demands, and gives people more options to choose from. With a physical keyboard, background application support, and a solid touchscreen, the Palm Pre may very well find itself some market share.


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