updated 10:45 am EST, Fri January 9, 2009
Needham on Palm Pre
Palm's new Pre smartphone borrows heavily from the Apple iPhone, but shows a lot of promise, writes Needham analyst Charlie Wolf. Palm announced the Pre at a major CES event on Thursday, revealing a device with features signature to the iPhone, such as an accelerometer and multi-touch controls. Wolf argues that the phone may in fact be better in some regards, particularly in terms of its ability to sync contacts and calendars across numerous devices.
The Pre also relies on a new "card" metaphor for its interface, which lets users quickly switch between entire applications in the same way that Safari switches between browser tabs. Pre owners should also have advantages such as a physical keyboard, and being able to launch apps from anywhere in the phone's OS, instead of having to return to a home screen.
Wolf comments however that Palm does not appear to be interested in competing with the media functions of the iPhone, or the e-mail capabilities of RIM's BlackBerry phones. He suggests that the Pre is instead targeted at people buying their first smartphone, though this may still put it in competition with the iPhone.
The Pre's biggest limitation may in fact be the initial choice of carrier, as it will be an exclusive to Sprint during launch. Wolf describes Sprint as "fast fading," and proposes that if the Pre is to become a real success, it will need to have models for other carriers such as Verizon and AT&T.