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Kaiyzen Group » CES Pre Review: Winter ‘09 Belongs to Palm

Jan 11 2009

CES Pre Review: Winter ‘09 Belongs to Palm

Published by Nate at 2:12 am under Mobile, Consumer, Technology

Getting around to some CES posts finally after 4 days of non stop Vegas action.  My first CES post will be about the Palm Pre which is probably number 1 or 2 on the list of exiciting things introduced at the show.  Lets get to it.

First, let me say that I have two friends at Palm, one on the hardware team, one on the software, and they have been uber jazzed on the device and OS for the past 6 months.  They are not the type of people to get over exicited about technology or “drink the kool-aid”, so I knew what they have been working on has to have been something worthwhile to the marketplace.  After visiting the Palm meeting room on thursday for some experience with the device the results actually exceed my expectations.

I have been working with wireless technology since 1999 on the application side.  I wouldn’t go as far as Scoble dramatics saying the Pre made me cry, lets just say it gave me goose bumps and made me happy I have been holding out for purchasing a new device even though I am not the biggest Sprint fan.

You could tell the Apple influence from Rubenstein with the invite only meeting room that was decked out and designed very nicely to provide a complete experience down to the wood panels they used on the base of the overhead projectors.

They had four demo stations set up with overhead projectors outputing to TV’s.  I took some video and pictures of various pieces that stuck out most and are posting them here. 

First up is a demo of the contact management/usage experience.  The way they are trying to include social type functionality and represent a single contact with data points from various inputs (demo shows phone, outlook, facebook) is a nice touch:

The next piece that stuck out was the calendar.  Following suit with the contacts management you can manage and view calendar items from various inputs (demo shows phone, outlook, google).  The user experience is very well thought out.  They know they provide a somewhat smaller screen so they created an “accordian view” for calendar space that is not occupied with any items:

In the final video you see some general user experience shots including the fantastic ribbon feature from the gesture feature.  The addition of touch/gesture from the bar below the display is a great new introduction of usabitlity for the handset market:

Again, some follow up posts on things Palm needs to do to step it up on for their WebOS but while I am still on cloud 9 with the first experience let me touch on the things that stand out and what makes it dificult for all the other players:

First off I am not going to include Symbian, Windows or Linux Mobile, or any homegrown OS’s here.

This thing is redirkulous and is really the gem of this initial announcemt.  What isn’t mentioned too much is most of the writeups around the web is that the entire user experience and everything you see IS web based from the menus to the “card view” to the applicaitons.  This thing is a linux kernel and webkit, period.  Everything you see is <divs> and all the snazy animations everyone is drooling over is a native javascript physics library…, which of course can be used by your apps.

I don’t mean to be mean, but between the idiots online and two gentlemen I experienced in the Palm meeting room who said Palm should have chosen Perl for their app creation people are off their rockers if they think developers won’t flock to this.  The MAIN thing they need to worry about is getting the devices and OS in front of people.  They still haven’t mentioned other devices that might come out in the first year OR if they will provide the OS to other CE manufacturers.  If any sort of traction is gained thousands of apps will be created is the shortest timeframe compared to Apple and Android.  Again.., sorry for calling people idiots, but anyone who compares programming Java or Objective C to html/js/css should not comment about anything engineering related ever again.

On the topic of html/js/css, lots of doubters out there saying the WebOS is going to fall short of providing developers what they need.  I have some thoughts on this.., but remember, EVERYTHING you see on a WebOS screen is html/js/css.  Palm is going to provide proprietary js hooks/events/callbacks for contact/calendar/location access.  I have a post here wishing for the day that the core of a mobile OS would be available via javascript and it appears that day is here.

Form Factor
The Apple fan boys can talk smack all they want but the iPhone, besides being fantastic, IS a large device.  I long for the iPhone Nano.., anything that is about 20% smaller than the current device.  Palm has solved this with the Pre by having a smaller device, full touch screen and the slide out key pad to satisfy the RIM fan boys.

Reasons why Apple should be worried: 

1) Full touch screen and slide down keyboard.  Apple wont go there.  RIM, Android phones and Palm own this combo.  You can say it doesnt matter but any device smaller than an iPhone makes all softkeys tough to work with, just look at the new LG devices.

2) Applications running in the background.  Apple better get on this quick.  Android and the rest do it.  Becuase the WebOS is entirely browser based every app is esentially run as a tab or a page, thus allowing them to run a large number of apps concurrently while maintaining performance.

3) User Experience and design.  For once Apple has been trumped by someone on these items.  The the gesture feature and card experience, not to mention the Touchstone charger (it is awesome) are a step up.  Even if Apple releases new updates to software and hardware before the Pre comes out that match this (and they wont), they will be branded as copiers.

4) SDK cannot compete except for 3D graphics and games.  Some might argue, but I dont think this is too big a deal right now when it comes to “the masses”.

Reasons why Google should be worried:

1) Palm, like Apple currently owns the stack end to end making it impossible for others to fully compete.  By owning the hardware and software the user experience can rise to a whole new level as evident with Microsoft announcing this week they are going to cut out a good amount Windows Mobile devices to limit the number of CE companies they have to work with.

2) The experience and smoothness is just plain better.  I have used all three devices (Pre, iPhone, G1) and the G1 is by far the worst experience.  The animations are pretty slow and the initial browser is shite.  Android runs multiple apps at the same time but again a slight slowness/lagging in the experience blows.

3) Again, the SDK cannot compete given a solid deployment of WebOS units.

Ok.., enough Palm fan boy action for now.  I have other posts to write before getting to the things I DONT like about the Pre and WebOS as well as stuff they better include in the SDK.

Drop comments if you concur or disagree,

One Response to “CES Pre Review: Winter ‘09 Belongs to Palm”

  1. […] came out last weekend.  From the moment I first laid my eyes and hands on the Pre back at the CES unveiling I pretty much fell for it and have been quite bullish leading up to its release including my post […]

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