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Palm Pre’s price and launch date target iPhone

May 20, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Palm says its Linux-based Palm Pre smartphone will debut on the Sprint 3G network on June 6, priced at an iPhone-like $200, says eWEEK. However, the Pre is going to require substantial developer support before it beats the iPhone, eWEEK quotes a Gartner analyst as saying.

(Click for larger view of the Palm Pre)

The $200 price, after contract and rebate, gives the Palm Pre a good shot at competing with the iPhone, according to many analysts quoted by Michelle Maisto in our sister publication, eWEEK. In addition to being offered in Sprint stores, the Pre will be available at Best Buy, Radio Shack, and select Wal-Mart locations, says the story. Sprint will offer individual, family and business plans, with pricing starting at $70 per month. In the second half of 2009, the Pre will also be available on the Bell Mobility 3G network in Canada.

In a separate eWEEK story filed today, Maisto quotes Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Gartner, as saying, “From a user interface point of view, the Pre is the closest thing we have seen to an iPhone.” Milanesi goes on to comment, however, that “the iPhone's success goes way beyond user interface and is the combination of the ecosystem and the UI that makes the iPhone what it is.” Milanesi is further quoted as saying, “We will have to see if Palm can strengthen its developer community fast enough to offer a similar experience.”

Two day jump on the iPhone

Assuming that Palm meets its June 6 appointment, only a few days before Apple is expected to show off a new iPhone model at its WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) on June 8-12, earlier rumors of Pre manufacturing delays may be unfounded. Gartner's Milanesi is quoted as saying that the launch date was about the best that Palm could choose, considering all the hoopla expected around the iPhone.

Other rumors have Palm preparing a low cost follow-up to the Pre, that runs the same Linux-based WebOS operating system. The unconfirmed Palm Pixie is said to be a candy bar-style phone with a fixed keyboard that will arrive a few months after the Pre and sell for only $100.

WebOS on Palm Pre: launcher, phone dialer with unobtrusive alert, and “card” view of web
(Click any to enlarge)

The 3G-enabled Palm Pre may well be the first Linux-based smartphone aside from Android phones from HTC and Samsung to offer an “iPhone”-like smartphone experience. It appears to provide additional UI enhancements compared to Android, but it remains to be seen whether Palm can bring the same army of eager developers to the Pre as Google has managed with Android. Meanwhile, several phones based on the LiMo (Linux Mobile) specification should ship this year that are expected to offer somewhat similar high-end features.

The Pre features WiFi, GPS, accelerometers, a 3-megapixel camera, and a 3.1-inch, 320 x 480 touchscreen in a rounded design with a keyboard that slides out on a curved slider. In addition, the Pre offers design innovations like a “gesture area” underneath the screen where one can swipe and flip away at the UI without obscuring the screen. The Pre ships with 8GB of internal memory, of which 7.4GB is available to users.

The Pre's Linux-derived WebOS leverages industry standard technologies, including CSS, XHTML, and JavaScript, and will offer an open development environment, said Palm. WebOS is said to provide gesture-based UI that includes a card metaphor for sifting through screens and applications. It also offers unified messaging technology called Synergy, which aims to integrate information from multiple sources such as calendars, contacts, and messaging applications into combined, logical views.

WebOS is said to offer extensive synchronization features, as well as persistent connections between applications and the web, providing updates in the background. Other touted features are said to include multitasking with easy switching between multiple open applications, a multi-touch interface with gesture and touch tricks, universal search, and unobtrusive notifications.


The Palm Pre is scheduled to be available in the U.S. exclusively from Sprint on June 6, says Palm. More information may be found in our previous coverage, here. The eWEEK story on the June 6 announcement should be here, and today's story on Gartner's take should be here.

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