Palm’s comeback attempt rests squarely on the notion that it has found a better way to manage your complicated digital life.
Ever since its January coming-out party at the Consumer Electronics Show, Palm has generated buzz for the Pre unlike any other phone released since Apple’s iPhone arrived in June 2007 (that includes impressive phones such as Research in Motion’s BlackBerry Bold and HTC’s G1 Android phone.) The two phones will be forever compared — not just because of their consumer-oriented styles and emphasis on gesture-based user interfaces, but because of the very real enmity between the proud team that worked on Apple’s historic iPhone breakthrough and the ex-Apple executives and engineers attempting to rebuild Palm. While the iPhone has set the standard for future smartphones, Palm’s WebOS delivers two important improvements that the iPhone can’t yet match: true multitasking between applications, and a subtle notifications system that doesn’t interrupt your train of thought. It does that while unveiling its own stamp on the multitouch user interface that Apple introduced to the masses with the iPhone and finding room for a slide-out hardware keyboard favored by CrackBerry addicts. There are several reasons why no one should expect the Pre to turn the smartphone world upside down just yet. Business users still love their BlackBerrys and RIM is aggressively courting the consumer. Apple has a killer brand, great audio and video player technology, and more than 35,000 applications inside an easy-to-use App Store that grows by the hour. All the same, Palm has taken a few steps forward that developers and users should take seriously.
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