Will The Palm Pre And WebOS Save Palm? I Think Not. [UPDATED x2]

So the Palm Pre and their new WebOS has hit the streets. Will this save Palm? If you look at the stock market as an indicator, then the answer is yes. However, I believe that the answer is much deeper than that. When you look at the facts, I think the answer is no. I think Palm is still dead.

Here’s how I see it:

  1. The Pre and the WebOS look to be wickedly cool. However when the cool factor wears off, they still have to stack up against the likes of the Blackberry OS, OS X on the iPhone, and Windows Mobile. If Palm popped up with a device like this two years ago, it would likely have thrashed the competition (or at the very least scared them). Coming out with it now may be too little too late.
  2. Palm has tied themselves to Sprint. In case you’re not aware, Sprint is a struggling telco that is bleeding cash and customers like a gunshot victim in L.A. While i’m guessing that Sprint will invest tons of time and money into marketing the Pre (so that Palm doesn’t have to), none of that matters if you don’t have customers to sell to.
  3. The Pre uses EVDO and not HSDPA. Palm must have missed the memo that HSDPA is what most of the planet uses for wireless data and they would have been better served to use that standard on the Pre. But I suspect Palm’s desire to get a carrier that would bend over and take it like a prison bitch play ball with them supersedes the need to make a smartphone that not only could be used outside North America, but would be available to a wide variety of carriers world wide. At least it has WiFi so Pre users who buy it from Sprint can go to Europe and still get their e-mail.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had several Palm devices over the years and my wife currently uses one. I happen to like their stuff and I would really like it if they did succeed. But I think that this is a hail mary from them, and one that is doomed to fail.

Too bad.

UPDATE: Palm must have read this post as this just appeared on PCWorld.com. According to Palm CEO Ed Colligan, the Pre will be in Europe in “the first half of the year” which is the same vague timeframe as the release in the US via Sprint. Since it’s for Eurpoe, it would have to be HSDPA to make it comparable to the EVDO version of the phone in terms of capabilities. It should be noted that Colligan did not mention the names of any carriers (such as Vodafone, Orange, O2, etc.) that would be carrying the phone. Which could mean that they may be still working out those details, or this is smoke and mirrors.

I guess we’ll find out in “the first half of the year.”

UPDATE #2: Palm really has to get their act together and sing from the same song sheet. According to this story, Paul Ghent, vice president of sales for Palm Europe says the timeframe for a European Palm Pre is the second half of the year. Not the first half as the CEO of Palm claimed.

This is starting to look more and more like smoke and mirrors from Palm. Another reason why this product might be doomed to fail.

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