Seemed to be a lot more people buying beer than milk in advance of the coming storm.
Well after much consternation and second guessing myself, i’ve decided to go w/ the iPhone. My decision came down to three rational issues and one irrational one.
First the irrational - I’ve always just WANTED an iPhone. Due to good old phone subsidies and 2 year contracts I couldn’t pull the plug and make the buy. But i have always coveted them and I couldn’t get over that longing.
On the more rational side:
1) I’m a Mac user and have a lot invested in Mac software that is directly portable to the iPhone so my wired/wireless life will be much easier.
2) I need a new iPod. Just 3 weeks ago my 60GB iPod Photo (v3?) completely died. Sad Mac face, no way to reformat to get any response from it. I’d already paid $100 once to replace the battery. It would have cost more to repair it than to replace it. And a 60+ GB ipod today runs $249. The 32 GB iPhone kills two birds with one stone.
3) Apps - There’s just so much more available for the iPhone and the innovation shows no sign of stopping. The Pre will eventually catch up, but the fact that Palm isn’t releasing the full developer SDK until 3 months after the device launch is not a good indicator to me as to how the software ecosystem is going to evolve. In a couple of years, we’ll see.
Having said that there are some things that the Pre does MUCH better than the iPhone that I am going to miss.
1) Speed dialing - This is such a simple feature, I can’t imagine why the iPod doesn’t have it. Palm allows you to assign single key dialing to your contacts. They let you use every key on the keyboard. (e.g. H=home, C=Christine, D=Dan, etc.) Just go to the dialer, press and hold that key and it auto dials. I would expect iPhone to at least let me have 8 or 9 speed dial slots. 1 speed dials voice mail. Why can’t I assign 2-9 to my favorite contacts? (I’ve searched online to find it but I haven’t found it - am I missing something. Please tell me.)
2) Push Gmail - the Pre Push email from Gmail is fantastic. It just works. As good as GoodLink ever did. That push Gmail isn’t available on iPHone is absurd. I am fairly confident that this is an Apple imposed limitation in order to encourage/require subscriptions to Mobile Me. There is NO technical reason why it can’t be done.
3) Multitasking - The Application management interface on the Pre is much better. THeir Card metaphor and the ability to jump out of a single application and scroll across to another app is really simple and elegant. Yes you can listen to your iPod and write email on an iPHone, but the overall experience of multiple apps running and moving between them on the Pre is better. No question.
4) Palm’s Mail and Messaging Apps - they way they pull together all of your various ‘inboxes’ was really nice.
5) Sprint Network - Better coverage at my house, and better coverage and data rate overall around the triangle. And great voice quality. Remember, that second T in AT&T stands for Telegraph. That may be what you need.
Apple can learn a lot from the Pre and I hope they will borrow as much from Palm as Palm did from Apple in designing the Pre. So we’ll see what happens in 2 years when I’m up for a new contract @ AT&T.
I’ve had a Palm Pre for 2 days now trying to decide if this is the next phone for me, or if I will follow the crowd and go w/ an iPhone. I am a 6+ year AT&T customer and on my 3rd generation Treo, so I am somewhat of a Palm devotee, but I am also a Mac user, so my allegiances are torn. Here’s what I’ve found so far.
+ Form Factor, Form Factor, Form Factor. The device form factor is, to my hand and eyes, nearly perfect. One handed operation for key functions like dailing, calendar lookup, mail opening are all possible. It goes in your pocket oh so nicely. The only shortcoming is now expansion memory slot.
+ Multi-tasking - The ability to have multiple applications open at one time and move back and forth is slick. It very gracefully takes you from a link in an email to the web page, and then with two gestures you can be back in that email message. This is probably one of the nicest features of the user experience. Only once have I had it tell me “No memory left” and that was when I had about 9 things open.
+ Camera - Takes really nice pictures. + Cut and Paste - Works nicely. Although iPhone now has it
+ Keyboard - Some are complaining that the keys are too small. I’ve been a treo user for 5 years now so I’m used to the treo keyboards and this one only feels a bit more cramped. But the rubbery feel of the keys and the positive feedback you get from the physical keyboard are great. I have “medium” sized hands. So far, I’ve been able to type out some 1-2 paragraph emails about as fast as I would have on my old treo, so to me, it’s just fine. I think the physical keyboard at a slightly smaller size is about equal to the larger virtual keyboard of the iPhone. For me the keyboard is fine and I can type just as fast as I could on the Treo 680. Blackberry powertypers may have issues though.
+ iTunes Sync - I was shocked how well it pulled in my music. It represents itself as an iPod, so you simply tell it what playlist(s) you want it to sync, and the songs show up. It only plays non DRM’s music, but that’s OK. I use Amazon for MP3s anyway.
+ Messaging application - The messaging app autmatically integrates witn AIM and GoogleTalk for IM so you have ready to go IM access right next to your SMS. Pre groups all IM’s and SMS’s with a particular contact in one thread. Nice presentation.
+ Sprint Service and Plan. On AT&T for my Treo i was paying about $90 per month for 450 minutes + unlimited data + 200 messages. On sprint i’m paying about $74 for 450 minutes + unlimted data + unlimited messages + Sprint Navigator ($10 on AT&T), Sprint TV and some other premium services. Sprint would appear to be about $25 dollars (or more) cheaper. Plus the CDMA coverage is acceptable at my house, whereas AT&T is non-existent.
+ Email Sync - Palm’s Synergy services seems robust enough for my needs. Emails will sometimes hit my phone before they hit my wifi connected laptop. Not quite GoodLink, but more than acceptable.
Now for the minuses:
- No Call Forwarding : Most people wont miss this, but I will. I travel to some out of the way places w/ no Sprint coverage, as well as to Europe. I need to be able to forward my calls to another line when my mobile is unaccessible. Seems like a pretty simple call control function that got overlooked?
- Syncing to a desktop/laptop : (Caveat : this may be a macophile problem. If you use MS Exchange I think your may have a head start here ) Palm’s new Synergy services syncs the palm contacts and calendar to the cloud and they support a couple of cloud services including google. So if you use Google Calendar and GMail/contacts exclusively, syncing to them is a breeze. (And is really good!) But my problem is keeping my laptop in sync with the cloud. There is no apparent background syncing between the Mac Address book and Gmail. The device syncs nicely with Google Contacts (and google calendar), but my main address book is Mac’s address book, so that has to be in the equation as well. I use a third party product (busySync) to keep the iCal in sync with Google Calendar so the Pre Calendar is three way synced Pre < > Google Calendar < > iCal, but no such luck with Contacts. Mac Address book claims to support Gmail Contacts syncing, and there are some third party solutions out or on their way, so I think there is a solution. It just wasn’t out of the box by any means. More work to do on this.
- Application selection - The selection in the app store is slim - some news apps, one Twitter client, LInked in, a couple games. It’s got a long way to go. But what is there is good quality, and good usability. I knew the app ecosystem was going to be thin at the launch, and I have great faith in the Palm Developer community that they will jump on the opportunity to build some great apps for the Pre. I really want Yelp and some other Twitter clients.
- Video Recording : OK, only half a minus. I’m not a big video creator. Maybe if I had one i’d create more. But I don’t miss not having it. It will be a nice software upgrade in 6-12 months.
- Battery life : Charged to 100%. Mobile for about 4 hours with WiFi on the entire time, checking email, using some applications and doing about 30 minute of phone calls and the battery is down to 32%. Looks like, just like iPhone WiFi is a battery killer. But having a hot swap battery isn’t a big deal in my book.
- SMS - There’s no character counter so you don’t know how close you are to 160 characters. Dumb oversight. There’s a very logical spot for it in the UI.
- UI Speed : There is occasionally a 4-5 second lag when launching some applications or when waking up the device after it’s gone dark. Not paralyzing, but aggravating for those with a short attention span
Overall, I’m really impressed. I’m going to give it a good 2-3 week trial. If anything pushes me to the iPhone it will be the contact synchronization problem. If my address book isn’t in sync, the phone’s dead to me. I think I can live w/out the 10K applications of the Apple App Store. There are probably only 6-8 I would really use anyway, and I think given some time some good apps will emerge for the Pre and the new WebOS.
In his blog post yesterday, Scott Adams (Creator of Dilbert) talks about Quality following Popularity. He gives some interesting examples from the entertainment world of products (shows) that weren’t that good to begin with (poor quality), but were given enough time to grow an audience (popularity), and eventually improved their product. Adams provides a two part litmus test on whether or not something can achieve the popularity necessary to give it the time to deliver quality.
1) You must be able to describe it in a few words.
2) When people hear about it, they ask questions.
I think this all applies equally well to tech startups. Many times that beta product just isn’t that great. But it scratches some itch and gets people talking. Talking leads to buzz, buzz leads to users, users leads to some investors, and cash provides the time needed to actually produce a quality product.
(BTW - did you know there are over 7,000 Dilbert strips? I’ve got some catching up to do.)