Although Verizon and AT&T may be getting the Pre after Sprint, we still don't know when that will be. So the gloves are off as long as Sprint has the Pre and they don't. Along the same lines of AT&T's anti-Palm Pre training chart, which compares Palm's new webOS handset unfavorably to the iPhone, Verizon has released their own internal document smackdown, comparing the Storm in select features against the Pre. And not surprisingly, the Storm has all the right features, while the Pre doesn't.
Global Phone, expandable memory, visual voicemail, and hundreds of apps in the App Market are a few of the Storm features being pushed in the Sales & Marketing memo, while the Pre lacks all of these features...at least for now. Could this sales pitch change how you, or someone you know feels about the Pre, or convince them to buy a Storm for that matter?
While the Pre stock may be holding up for now, the Touchstone stock may not be faring quite as well. MyPre reports that according to feedback from early shoppers, the $69.99 Touchstone inductive charger kit is in short supply. Palm's accessory department may have really underestimated the demand for the nifty inductive charger. "Got the last Touchstone, they only had 3", Kevin Tofel of jkOnTheRun states on Twitter. By comparison, the same store had 25 handsets for sale.
Also, in one of the more interesting stories we've seen so far, NBC Chicago reports that a woman drove her car right into a Sprint store that was preparing to sell the new webOS device. "An elderly woman apparently couldn't wait to get her Palm Pre from a Calumet Park cell phone store", reads the article.
The woman smashed through the front window, before coming to a complete stop inside. Employees Jesus Leal Jr. and Rich Kelly "got the surprise of their lives", knocking down an oversized Pre cutout in the scramble. We couldn't help it, but was that a Pre he's using to call 911? Unfortunately, she may have forgot to submit her application to the WWYD for a Palm Pre contest over at Precentral, for which winners did things such as getting a Tattoo of a Pre, risking their career by dressing up, and eating the spiciest curry in America.
The day has finally arrived for which Sprint stores have been preparing (and opening early for), and for which the everyman can finally get their hands on Palm's first webOS device, for $199 after a $100 mail-in rebate. Reports are already streaming in from excited owners:
"I have been reading everything on the internet about the Pre for the last few months and I knew it was going to be a revolutionary device", states Ken Fitzgerald via Wired, a mobile phone developer who broke his Verizon contract to get the Pre. However, the Palo Alto Sprint store lacked the long lines that the nearby Apple store had seen for the iPhone or iPhone 3G. Meanwhile Doug Chapalow, a web and multimedia developer, had about 10 people in line at a VA store before they opened the doors.
Previously, ten Sprint stores offered the device to Sprint Premier customers at launch parties last night, and comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander hammed it up over the Pre at a Hollywood benefit this past Wednesday.
The Sprint store close to my home here in VA has just opened. We had about 10 people in line before I arrived, but one of the store employees has told us that there is enough for everyone to get one today.
Of course, just after that someone asked what was the maximum amount of phones one person could get. One employee told us there was no limit, but one more important employees told us there was a limit of 5.
P.S. I've been busted for blogging in the store..."HEY! He's blogging this!!"
Recently a few early reviews started trickling in, including three mini-reviews and most notably, a review by NYTimes' David Pogue. Now the floodgates have finally burst, and the Pre reviewers seem to have all come streaming out of hiding at once. Detailed reviews of Palm's new webOS handset were posted within the span of a day by the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, USA Today, CNET, Gizmodo, Engadget, PCWorld, Precentral and more.
So what is the verdict on the Palm Pre? For the most part, fears of scathing reviews can be put aside, as overall the Pre is considered a worthy iPhone rival. iPhone killer, maybe not - there tended to be ongoing gripes with the battery life and so-so QWERTY keypad. But every reviewer had good things to say about the device as well, especially the new webOS platform. Below are a few points from each of the major reviews, including some of what each reviewer liked and disliked. What are your expecations of the Pre?
I consider the Pre to be potentially the strongest rival to the iPhone to date...whether the Pre is better than the iPhone depends on your personal preferences.
The Pre's biggest advantage over the iPhone is that, in addition to sporting an elegant touch-screen interface that matches or exceeds Apple's, the new Palm device has a real physical keyboard that slides out from its curved body...the Pre delivers.
It is thoughtfully designed, works well and could give the iPhone and BlackBerry strong competition -- but only if it fixes its app store and can attract third-party developers.
Move over, iPhone. You've had two years on top of the smart phone world. Now there's a touch-screen phone with better software: the Palm Pre...now, webOS comes along and does multitasking right.
The Pre is well put together, but not exceptional...less screen space means it's harder to hit the right area with your finger, but the Pre makes up for this a bit by making the surface just below the screen touch-sensitive.
Whether you get a Pre or not, its brilliant software will leave its mark on the phones you buy in the future, just like the iPhone did after its debut.
The bold new Pre ad, featuring over 1000 martial arts performers, has aired publicly on Facebook and to celebrities at the Hollywood benefit tonight. Directed by acclaimed director Tarsem and choreographed by Sun Yupeng, it provides an artistic interpretation of unique Pre features, such as Synergy and Cards. You can also check out behind-the-scenes footage via Facebook.
Sprint "situation rooms" ensure smooth launch
As the hotly-anticipated Pre handset enters the home stretch before its June 6 release, Sprint and Palm are publicy trying to "manage expectations", reports the NY Times. Success "is not about having a line out the door", states Sprint spokesman Mark Elliott. "It's about being able to treat each customer and make sure they're happy with their decision."
This attitude is perhaps most evident in "war rooms" that Sprint is planning for the big day to counter possible shortage issues. The company is approaching the launch with "military strategy", reports Forbes, bringing in extra employees to manage crowds for the next two months, and to staff the "situation rooms" to quickly address tech support issues via live chat. These measures rival the iPhone launch, which saw AT&T implement information websites in order streamline the user registration process.
But will these measures be enough to ensure a smooth and hassle-free launch day? If inventory holds up, perhaps. Otherwise, better bring along a sleeping bag ahead of time, like the guy already waiting outside a Sprint/Nextel store (pictured at right). More news after the break.
The last we heard from New York Times' columnist David Pogue he was at CES 2009, and left the event billing the Pre as the "smash hit of C.E.S." Recently he had a chance to revisit Palm's new webOS handset, and in his review, he concluded that the Pre's perks outweigh its weak spots.
"The star of this summer blockbuster is Palm. The Pre...is an elegant, joyous, multitouch smartphone that seems intended to be ‘‘iPhone, remixed.’’
He goes on to state that this is the first real challenge to the iPhone in a long time, and it stands out among "so many awful iPhone killers". Part of this is due to an experienced team, including ex-Apple employees who really got the design right. Below is a summary of what he came away with:
Hardware: Smaller than the iPhone, the Pre feels more comfortable as a phone. When turned off, the screen disappears into the smoky finish, leaving a "stunning, featureless talisman".
Price: The device itself matches the iPhone in price, but the service plans are where you really save. For example, Sprint's $70 plan costs $240/year less than AT&T's equivalent plan.
Typing: Thanks to the domed key shapes and sticky rubber surface, the keyboard is faster, less frustrating than typing on an iPhone. However, the Blackberry's keyboard is expansive in comparison.
Phone: Just pop the keyboard open and start typing to find contacts.. Audio quality is average, however the ringer is too quiet. "Expect to hear a lot of people complaining about that".
Software: webOS is "gorgeous, fluid and exciting". It shares some iPhone ideas (i.e. pinch to zoom), but has its own personality. Multitasking is excellent, such as playing internet radio while reading a PDF, or having two open e-mail messages. The gesture area is intuitive, allowing you to skip forward or backwards in videos with just a flick. He also liked the accordian feature of the calendar (seen here).
Battery: The Pre's "heartbreaker". On days he used the Pre often, it was dead by late afternoon. With occasional use, it was dead by dinnertime. Sprint blames it on poor coverage in his area, thus eating up more power to find a signal. At least you can carry a spare if you need it.
Applications: For music and photos, iTunes never knows the difference (referring to the Pre's iTunes syncing capability). The color-coded combined calendar "makes enormous sense", and while the App store is starting small, Palm intends to approve thousands in the coming weeks.
Opening programs can be very slow, sometimes 8 or 9 seconds, with no progress bar or hourglass.
The universal search won't look through your e-mail or calendars.
There are a "few bugs" left to exterminate.
The Pre is not quite as simple as the iPhone; all the extra features mean there's more to learn.
Overall, Pogue found that the numerous plusses of the Pre (beautiful hardware and software, compact size, keyboard, swappable battery, flash, multitasking, calendar consolidation) outweigh the negative (battery life, slow program opening, ringer volume, Sprint network). Also, the fact that Verizon Wireless will also carry the Pre within six months or so will be icing on the cake.
In addition to an early Pre review by Boy Genius, a few more sites got their hands on Palm's new webOS handset. Sprint employees have also been busy playing with the phone, most recently posting pictures on Twitter. We should see more mini-reviews before the big day, as early phones continue to get passed around. Below is a summary of what each reviewer liked (and disliked) about the device:
GigaOM: In this "super quick" hands-on review, writer Om Malik got some one-on-one time with the Pre.
Design: It has a squat design, nice screen, is easy to grip, and is round in all the right places. However, the slide out keyboard seems flimsy and cluttered.
Browsing: Browsing was really fast, comparible with Apple and Google's, and trumps Nokia's browser. The phone is also good at integrating web-centric apps.
webOS: "oozing with smarts" that include universal search, unified address book and calender, and dozens of other such features.
Overall: With the Pre, Palm joins players Apple, RIM, Microsoft, Google, and Nokia. Strong community, browser, webOS, and hype should help Palm sell itself to companies looking for an acquisition, like Dell.
PedroTheGoat: In this review via the Precentral forums, one member got to play with the new webOS device for "about an hour". Here's what he came away with:
Design and keyboard: The phone feels solid. Throw the "Fisher Price" stuff out the window. It feels "marvelous" compared to the Blackberry 8330. Solid slider, great ergonomic feel. Even with very large hands, the keyboard worked just fine. Thumbs hit the bottom of the screen on the top row, but overcome easily with adjustment. "After only about 1 minute I was able to type just as fast as on my Blackberry."
Battery and Screen: Battery hardly moved after 45 minutes of heavy use (29% to 23%), but won't hold up as well as Blackberry or Touch Pro. Bright, crisp screen, FAST accelerometer.
webOS and Browser: No crashes or slowdown, even with 10 cards open. Web pages loaded just like as on a desktop, faster than an iPhone.
Other: Camera worked as it should, contacts screen looked "really beautiful", speaker was loud with minimal distortion.
Looks like Palm is already ramping up their celebrity exposure prior to the launch of the new webOS Pre. Scheduled for June 3, just a couple days before the Pre launch parties begin for Sprint Premier customers, this invite-only Hollywood benefit event for IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) will be hosted by Jason Alexander (George Costanza on Seinfeld) and will feature comedian Jerry Seinfeld himself, eWeek reports.
If these two will be good spokespersons for Palm's new handset however, remains to be seen. "We're not sure about Jason, but George Costanza seems more like a Motorola brick phone kind of guy to us", quips Business Insider.
The event will be at Raleigh Studios, Hollywood, and will feature a famers' market in the centre of the cocktail reception, with proceeds going to IAVA. To help increase star power, Palm will donate a Pre to a veteran for every celebrity in attendance.
Also, a new Palm Pre commercial will be debuted at the event (and to the public on Facebook), notes the Palm Blog. The bold new ad features an artistic interpretation of unique Pre features, such as Synergy and multitasking. Directed by acclaimed film and commercial director Tarsem, it will feature over 1000 martial arts performers orchestrated by Sun Yupeng, who also choreographed the impressive Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies.
Palm has already posted several behind-the-scenes video clips from the commercial, which you can watch here.
UPDATE: Check out a photo of the official invite to the Hollywood event below.