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Did the Pre save Palm?

Gadgetell is trying to decide if the Palm Pre has saved Palm:

The successful launch of the Palm Pre, Palm’s darling of a phone running the “revolutionary” webOS was supposed to save Palm. Launched on June 6 in the US, the Pre was off to a fast start, depending on who you asked. The Pre continues to be sold on one network, Sprint, while it’s application catalog fills out. The question now becomes, did the Pre save Palm?

That was the question poised to me by our Robert Nelson who was standing next to me when the phone was announced at CES last year. Both of us left with a sense of hope and excitement about the new phone and about the webOS. Where are we now?

Robert says, “To me, I think it has gone stale. It almost seems that Palm is back on life support. But at the same time, I like the Pre (of course, that could just be the fan boy in me).”

My take is two parts: I agree with Robert the gloss has faded a bit on the Pre. I attribute that to an unappealing design, at least for me. I am edging closer to despising key’d phones, the split second it takes to slide out the keypad or worse, reorient the device is far too long for me. The Pre doesn’t live on the now network, it lives on the, wait for it, slide out, network.

So it’s clear I am not a big fan of the hardware on the Pre. That’s a personal call and one that I may be on my own with it; I can deal with that. I have the same problems with the Moto Droid and the slew of Android phones with slide out full-size keyboards. A phone store clerk explained it to me like this: the teens and 20 year olds love the slide out, the 30 and up crowd digs the slider phones. Test that one out, I’ve found it to be a decent predictor.

Part two is this, while the Pre hasn’t saved Palm, the webOS will. The OS is fun, simple, brilliant in some ways. I think the Pixi will do well, assuming it gets off Sprint in record time. I think the phone after Pixi will do even better. There is much competing operating systems could learn from webOS. While it still could use some polishing around the edges, it works and works well.

There is no question in my mind that the webOS can compete with Android for most people. Competing with the iPhone OS isn’t the problem, it’s the Santa’s sack of apps that is getting harder to get around.

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