We are in a time of unprecedented financial turmoil and it is apparent to me that productivity needs to increase to help us stabilize the job losses and hopefully get our economy back into growth mode. It is devices like the Pre which will in fact help corporations boost productivity tremendously. Improved communications flow is the lubrication economies need to operate at peak efficiency.
It's been an event-filled couple of weeks with the rollout of the Palm Pre and new iPhone 3G S and the new 3.0 iPhone OS/software version. I did get a chance to use the Pre and am impressed with how much it reminds me of the iPhone but with more functionality - multitasking and a menu system which makes it much easier to switch between apps. I would venture to say the Pre design allows you to be more productive than the iPhone. Of course the iPhone has more apps (50,000 and counting) but you can run old Palm apps on the new Pre webOS meaning there are more apps available for the new gadget than you may have thought. In addition, the Pre webOS allows traditional web apps to run on the device meaning we can see many new Palm apps that won't take a great deal of time for developers to roll out.
The keyboard is another big differentiator of the Pre and most people have no problems using it based on my informal questioning at the event last week. Personally the keyboard was too small for my fingers and I had to use the fingernails on my thumbs to type. I do remember having to do this on an old Blackberry as well and I am sure over time I would get pretty good at typing on the Pre. Also it is a bit awkward to hold at first but Sprint employees assure me over time it becomes very comfortable to handle.
My informal tests show the Pre is not quite as fast as Safari on the iPhone at rendering web pages. But the flipside is the Pre is pretty snappy when you rotate it - the screen rotates more quickly than the iPhone. I also sense the Sprint EVDO network is currently faster than AT&T 3G.
iPhone 3G S (Yes -- looks just like the iPhone 3G)
So now that the new iPhone is out which device would I choose? First I should say Nokia, RIM and others have solid devices as well but for now let's focus on iPhone versus the Pre. Apple has now fixed a number of problems with the iPhone such as cut and paste, better search, MMS, landscape keyboard and there is now a video camera as well. So the choice is difficult. I would say the iPhone is still the winner for now. I despise the keyboard on the iPhone so you can imagine how good the rest of the device is for me to say the iPhone wins.
However it is worth pointing out that part of the reason the iPhone wins is because of the slew of apps on the market which run on the device. If the Pre can gain traction and wee armies of developers rolling out software which runs on it then it is possible I could be neutral on this race.
There is also the issue of the screen size. I believe every square inch of real estate is crucial on a mobile device. The iPhone is marginally larger at 3.4 inches vs. the Pre's 3.1 inches. The resolution is identical but the added real estate does help when playing games, reading and displaying menus.
Although no one would go on record, my informal Q&A with people familiar with the matter leads me to believe the Pre will soon have a version with a larger keyboard which comes out of the device in landscape mode which will make it competitive with devices like those from HTC - the XV6800, G1, etc.
I should this comparison end by saying the Pre is very impressive based on my quick use of the device. I expect to explore it in more detail as time goes on and give you my feedback.