Technologizer posts about Palm Pre

Palm Goes For the Throat in Apple Tiff

By  |  Posted at 3:23 pm on Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Pre Disguised as iPhoneApple locking you out of iTunes? Call on the USB Implementers Forum. That’s Palm’s tact as it looks to muscle its way back into the smartphone space. Its complaint to the group which manages the standards for USB alleges that Apple is misusing those standards by permitting only its own devices to use the application.

It’s unknown what may come out of it as this is basically the first time a company has taken this route in attempting to break into the walled garden that is iPod/iTunes. That is essentially what the Pre’s Media Sync does–it tricks iTunes into thinking the Pre is an Apple device.

That strategy has its pitfalls too: it very well could be against the policies of the USB governing board, but Palm is saying its the only available route because of the way iTunes is set up.

Palm has a lot riding on the Pre: many industry watchers see the device as the last hope for the company which has slowly been fading since its heyday when Palm Pilots were the rage, and its acquisition of Handspring’s Treo helped catapult it into the smartphone industry.

The company will likely again build a workaround, continuing a cat and mouse game between the two companies. Apple has shown a willingness to play for as long as is needed, so Palm better have developers on call to continue to break into iTunes when needed.

It’s a smart move for Palm to at least try. With iPods so ubiquitous, and many using it to organize their digital media, as the saying goes “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

But in the end, we all know Jobs and Co. want Apple to stay at the center of the iTunes universe, and will do what is necessary to keep it that way. Palm better be ready to be in this for the long haul.

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Analysts call for Microsoft to drop the Zune

By  |  Posted at 9:49 pm on Thursday, July 30, 2009


Zune GraveyardMarketWatch published a story today that could light a fire under Microsoft’s shareholders: it all but wrote an obituary for the company’s Zune portable media player. However, I do not think that the Zune is on the chopping block–yet.

Sales for the Zune dropped 42% over the last quarter to $211 million, according to Microsoft’s Q4 financial reports. In comparison, Apple iPod sales declined just 11%, for total sales of $1.5 billion, MarketWatch reports.

In terms of market share, the best-case scenario cited in the report was an IDC survey from last fall that found that the Zune holds 4.8% of the market. Recent numbers for the NPD group lower that estimate to a dismal 2%, compared to 70% for the iPod.

Microsoft is expected to ship the Zune HD, a touch screen interface device that offers high-def video output and radio, in the fall. Sales will likely continue to falter until then.

Continue reading this story…

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A Pre for Under a Hundred Bucks? Good Deal!

By  |  Posted at 1:53 pm on Sunday, July 26, 2009


bestbuypre[UPDATE: As noted in the comments, Best Buy is saying this is an error. I still think we'll see a $99 Pre before too long, though...] is reporting that Best Buy is living up to its name by offering Palm’s Pre smartphone for $99.99 with a two-year contract–no rebate paperwork required. That’s $100 less than the previous price, which you’ll still pay if you buy a Pre from Sprint (and which you’ll only get after you apply for and receive a $100 rebate). We don’t know whether Best Buy’s new price is permanent, or whether Sprint will match it soon, but it seems like a good bet that it’s the price that the Pre will ultimately end up at.

Only Palm and Sprint really know how well the Pre is selling, and whether it’s living up to their initial expectations. But I don’t think the 50% discount a few weeks after the Pre’s release is a sign of panic on anybody’s part. When Apple cut the price for the iPhone 3G to $99 two days after the Pre debuted in stores, it pretty much set $99 as the new starting price for a smartphone with specs comparable to those offered by the Pre, and there was nothing Palm could do about it. At $199, the Pre looked a tad pricey compared to an iPhone 3GS with twice the storage and video recording, even though it had more RAM and a keyboard. At $99.99, however, it costs…exactly what you’d expect.

You gotta think that part of Palm’s response to the iPhone 3GS will be a Pre that matches some of its features–especially the starting storage capacity of 16GB–and which can be sold for a similar price. Best Buy’s price cut might even be a sign that the new model will arrive soon. One way or another, I hope that the Pre sells well enough to be considered a major success: It’s an excellent and innovative phone, and even iPhone owners will benefit if Apple has plenty of healthy competition.

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Palm to Apple: Block This!

By  |  Posted at 7:53 pm on Thursday, July 23, 2009


Pre Disguised as iPhone

Last week, Apple blocked the technique that Palm was using to let the Pre sync seamlessly with Apple’s iTunes. I assumed that it was game over. Wrong! Palm released WebOS 1.1 today, and among its new features is the ability to sync with iTunes 8.2.1, the version of Apple’s media software that foiled the earlier version of Palm’s Media Sync feature.

There’s an interesting technical backstory here, though we don’t yet know what it is. Did Apple do an insufficient job of making it tough for the Pre to sync? Did Palm figure out an entirely different method for accomplishing a similar end result? If Apple blocks Palm’s new approach, will Palm strike back with workaround #3? Is it possible for Apple to make utterly sure that non-Apple devices can’t sync with its software? I’m assuming/hoping that folks who know more about this stuff than I do (such as Jon Lech Johansen) will soon tell us what’s going on.

I said in my earlier post that I had trouble summoning righteous indignation over Apple’s anti-Pre tactics. I still do. But if this is going to turn into a cat-and-mouse game, I’m rooting for the rodent–which is plucky Palm. Although I still think that the best all-around solution would be for Apple to open up iTunes so that owners of the Pre–and other devices–could easily give Apple money for music, too. Who wouldn’t be better off if such a scenario came to pass?

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5Words for Thursday, July 16 2009

By  |  Posted at 6:29 am on Thursday, July 16, 2009

Comments Off

5wordsHow to sync Pre music now.

Twitter talks about document leak.

Will Twitter sue over leak?

IDC: Apple’s sales rank slips.

Bad news, everybody: spam works.

The joy of Polaroid SX-70.

The cost of smartphone ownership.

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Apple to the Pre: Your Masquerade is Over

By  |  Posted at 6:09 pm on Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Pre Disguised as iPhoneFile this one under Utterly Unsurprising News Stories: Apple’s new version of iTunes blocks the technique that the Palm Pre was using to provide seamless of music and video with the Apple application. That was, of course, by far the likeliest scenario all along. Pre owners can sidestep Apple’s move by keeping with the old version of iTunes for the moment, but long-term, the Pre’s iTunes syncing–which was accomplished by tricking iTunes into thinking the Pre was an iPod–is dead.

I know it would be better for consumers if Apple opened up iTunes enough to let the Pre and other non-Apple devices sync with the application. (It might even be better for Apple, since it would help it sell music to folks who don’t own its music players and phones.) But given that iTunes isn’t designed to sync with other companies’ devices, I can’t be bitterly angry at Apple for cutting off Pre owners. Or at least this ranks pretty low on my list of things to be irked at Apple about.

I remain a little mystified by Palm’s actions to date, since the company used iTunes syncing as a selling point, even though it’s run by smart people who knew that Apple probably wouldn’t stand for it. There’s a a pretty obvious step it can take now, if it so chooses: release a piece of software for Windows and Macs that handles the iTunes syncing that it’s been doing directly. It can license the technology if it needs to. It may not be morally obligated to do something like this–at the moment, the Palm site still touts iTunes sync and uses fine print (in light gray type) to say it may not work forever:

Palm Pre Fine Print

…but I still think it would be classy on Palm’s part. Maybe it’s been planning to do something like that all along.

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“Holiday” Launch for Palm Pre Across Europe

With the Pre an apparent success here in the US, and Palm planning to take on the Canadian market later this year, its next target is Europe. The company announced Tuesday that it had selected O2 to bring the phone to the UK, Ireland, and Germany, and Spain on the Movistar network.

The company calls Europe an important region for Palm. “Since we showed Palm Pre at Mobile World Congress in February, there’s been a great deal of anticipation for an announcement about European availability, and that day is here,” chairman and CEO Jon Rubenstein said.

Since its in Europe, it’s obviously GSM… thinking that we may see the Pre on AT&T or T-Mobile soon too? A point to ponder…

Posted by Ed Oswald at 11:30 am

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Palm Pre Selling Better than Expected: Analyst

Palm PreBoth Sprint and Palm have a lot riding on the Palm Pre. In Sprint’s case, the carrier desperately needs a hit to help it stop bleeding customers. For Palm, its much more serious: either the Pre is a success, or the company itself may fail.

According to Charter Equity Research analyst Edward Snyder, neither company has anything to worry about. While early estimates pegged initial Pre sales at 150,000 units, Snyder believes that the actual number is about twice that.

He says that his own checks show that demand for Palm’s touch screen device remains strong, and Palm is churning out about 15,000 Pres per day. At that rate, Sprint should have about 1 million of the devices to sell in the upcoming summer quarter. Neither Palm nor Sprint have so far commented on the report.

Posted by Ed Oswald at 1:00 pm


Is the Palm Pre Robust Enough?

By  |  Posted at 6:34 pm on Monday, June 29, 2009


Internet forums are atwitter about Palm Pre build quality issues. The revelation that the Palm Pre might be shoddy could not come at a worse time for the company, as it struggles to find sure financial footing.

A comment left at Palm enthusiast Web site sums up many of the quality problem that early adopters claim to be experiencing:

“Im [sic] on my THIRD pre (yellow box). Over the last two weeks, i’ve noticed an increasing amount of play with the screen. I’ve also noticed that on the left side of the device the two sections are separated enough that i can almost see the innards. When I push them together, you can hear squeaking. On top of that, the device came with a loose power button that doesn’t click nearly as firmly as that of other devices.”

Last week, RBC Capital analyst Mike Abramsky estimated that Palm has sold 150,000 Pre units so far. That is not as widely successful as the iPhone 3GS, but it’s a promising start. However, the Pre’s promise might fall short if it gains a reputation for being unreliable.

The iPhone is stiff competition, but Palm faces an additional challenge from RIM’s Blackberry Tour and new Android phones. Palm’s acclaimed WebOS operating system cannot keep pace on unreliable hardware. Meanwhile, Palm’s stock has become a new favorite of short sellers due to its dismal earnings report last week and lack of guidance about future Pre sales. Palm’s Pre could be its last best hope, but the company still has a huge challenge in front of it.

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Should Original iPhone Owners Ditch Apple for a Pre?

By  |  Posted at 12:09 pm on Friday, June 26, 2009


Palm Pre vs. ApplePreThinking has noticed that Sprint is running ads for the Palm Pre directed at the earliest of iPhone adopters–the folks who bought first-generation iPhones two years ago, and whose contracts are therefore starting to end. (Or will be in a few days–next Monday is the second anniversary of the iPhone’s introduction.) The ads correctly point out the Pre’s multitasking and Sprint’s all-inclusive $99 service plan as reasons to consider a Pre. They also mention Sprint’s 4G network, which is a tad odd given that the Pre doesn’t support it.

The ads inevitably bring to mind Palm investor Roger McNamee’s amazing prediction that “not one” original iPhone user would still be using an iPhone within a month of the AT&T contract coming to an end. Sprint will presumably be quite happy if even a smallish percentage of first-gen iPhone owners switch. But would doing so be a rational move?

Sure, for some folks. I’d at least consider the possibility myself if I had an old iPhone and my obligation to AT&T was nearing its end.

Continue reading this story…

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Bye Bye, Palm Pre Media Sync

By  |  Posted at 6:04 pm on Tuesday, June 16, 2009


prefootSometimes threats are angry, blustery, and public. Sometimes they come in the form of…mundane product support notes. Let’s call this one Warning Shot HT3642.

Last month, Palm announced that its Pre phone would sync directly with Apple’s iTunes software on PCs and Macs. It does, rather well, by pretending to be an iPod. It seemed unlikely that Apple would be thrilled with that scenario.

Now Apple has published a support note concerning iTunes that says that it’s aware that some “unsupported third-party media players” (read: the Palm Pre) “claim” to sync with iTunes, but that Apple can’t support or test such compatibility. And “because software changes over time, newer versions of Apple’s iTunes software may no longer provide syncing functionality with non-Apple digital media players.”

It’s conceivable that it’s just sayin’ that you never know what might happen, but virtually everybody is going to assume that the message here is that an iTunes update (possibly the next one) will kill Palm’s Media Sync feature real soon now.

I still feel like we don’t know what’s going on here. If someone sticks his head into a lion’s mouth, he’s either really, really smart or really, really dumb. Offering iTunes syncing through a clever hack is the equivalent of sticking your head into a lion’s mouth. But I don’t think anyone involved with the decision at Palm is dumb.

The thing is, Palm could implement perfectly satisfactory–if slightly less seamless–iTunes syncing by supplying its own utility that talks to an iTunes library and the music and video files on the hard drive. I wonder if it’s already done so, just in case? And if there are already lawyers somewhere drawing up suits claiming that people bought Pres because Palm told them that they’d sync beautifully with iTunes?

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The T-Grid: Palm Pre vs. iPhone 3G S

By  |  Posted at 11:11 pm on Monday, June 8, 2009


So much about Apple’s new iPhone was revealed through rumor ahead of time that I prepared a provisional grid comparing it to the Palm Pre a couple of weeks ago. Now that everything’s official, I dug out that grid for an updating and to make any necessary corrections–and found that about 98 percent of the specs I filled in for the iPhone to Be Named Later turned out to accurately describe the iPhone 3G S.

After the jump. lots and lots of specs for the summer’s two most notable smartphones. As usual, I’m not claiming that you can use this list to determine which phone is better (especially since the 3G S remains an unreleased product as I write this). But it’s still fun to see how they compare.

Continue reading this story…

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Four Reasons I Don’t Think the New iPhone Will Be Available on Monday

By  |  Posted at 6:22 pm on Friday, June 5, 2009


GearLive’s Andru Edwards thinks that the new iPhone–let’s call it the iPhone Video–will not only be announced on Monday but available in Apple Stores the same day. It’s not entirely clear what prompted him to say this–he headlines it as a prediction and then says it’s “likely” to happen, then simply states without hedging “Yes, you will be able to pick up the next version of the iPhone on Monday, if you get to an Apple Store before they sell out.” He says that he thinks iPhone OS 3.0 is ready to go and that Apple would like to put a crimp in Palm and Sprint’s release of the Pre on Saturday. And then he talks about “sources” who say “the stars are in alignment” for Apple Stores to have the iPhone Video on Monday.

In other words, it’s not entirely clear whether his story is based on wishful thinking, attempted logical deduction, investigative reporting, or some combination thereof. In any case, it seems like an extremely unlikely scenario to me. Here’s why:

1. FCC approval. The iPhone Video will have to get it, and it’s really hard to keep the phone secret once it’s started that process. By announcing the phone on Monday but not shipping it instantly, Apple gives itself a buffer to get the phone approved.

2. iPhonemania. With both the first iPhone and the iPhone 3G, Apple created tech-hype history by whipping gadgethounds into such a frenzy that throngs lined up at the crack of dawn to buy phones. It’s likely that the iPhone Video won’t create quite the same madness–it’s neither the first iPhone nor the first 3G one–but I’d think that Apple would like to stoke some initial crazy excitement. If the phone’s simply available the first day anybody knows about it, it can’t. (That would be like releasing a summer blockbuster movie that nobody knows about for sure beforehand.)

3. It’s not just about the Apple Store. Even if we assume for the moment that the iPhone Video will debut in the U.S. only, the phone will be for sale in Apple Stores, AT&T stores, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart. Presumably those last three merchants would be nonplussed if the phone was only available in Apple’s own outlets on the day of announcement. And while it’s not utterly inconceivable that all the iPhone sellers are ready to put the phone on sale on Monday, it would be an impressive achievement to keep the phone secret with so many folks involved in preparations already.

4. Apple doesn’t need to to release it on Monday to respond to the Pre. Even if you accept the notion that Apple is worried enough about the Pre to think it needs to plan strategy to respond to its release, it doesn’t need to have iPhones on store shelves on Monday. Anyone who’s completely entranced by the Pre will try to buy one this weekend; Monday is too late to prevent that. But most people who might buy a Pre won’t do so this weekend–they will, very sensibly, give it some thought and see what their other options are, and they already know that it’s dead certain that a new-and-improved iPhone will be available soon. If Apple announces a new iPhone on Monday, it’ll surely be a matter of weeks at most before it goes on sale. Virtually nobody who really wants an iPhone Video will opt for the Pre instead simply because it’s available a bit sooner.

I’m not saying the chances of GearLive’s prophecy coming true are zero.  Just that if it is true, it’ll be one of the more startling things Apple has ever done…

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