Preparing for the Pre Launch Event

Some weeks back I received an invitation to an event in New York City from Sprint that started like this:

Good Morning Rich,

This summer, the blockbusters are not just opening at the multiplex. From this week’s headlines, you’ve inevitably heard some “big talk” about the Palm Pre from Sprint, the device’s exclusive carrier, before its June 6th debut. I’d like to offer you an opportunity for an intimate look at the Palm Pre and hear from Sprint directly.

It goes without saying that this launch is big, really big. Who could refuse such an invitation?

Many believe in fact the future of Palm rests on the success of this device. The early reviewers seem happy but the question many are wondering about is will this device make a dent in the sales of RIM, Apple and/or other players.

As I sit here at the pre-launch breakfast one decision-maker from a major conglomerate which owns a makeup company among others is sitting to my right and he is here to decide whether his company with switch from RIM devices to the Pre.

So many people have been asking for the functionality of an iPhone with an integrated keyboard that you have to imagine there is pent up demand for the Pre and if people believe they are roughly getting the best of an iPhone and a Blackberry they may be tempted to switch devices.

The challenge of course has moved beyond making the best device into app stores. Everyone it seems has one of these or is working on one.

But the question is who can catch up with Apple? Sure Palm was the first company to successfully roll out handheld computers and sure there are legions of developers who have programmed for Palm devices over the years… But many of the developers I have met who don’t even like the iPhone are developing for it. They acknowledge you have to have your app there.

So this gets us to the Pre with a few dozen apps to begin with — they are behind by tens of thousands. But if the early buzz, clever design and social networking integration can push sales through the roof, we can expect developer interest to grow.

Then again, Apple is expected to roll out a new OS and device this month and there will be a new Blackberry Storm as well. And as the competition heats up and consumers and businesses become accustomed to smartphones, we can only expect the market for applications to grow and productivity to increase.

In the mean time,the event should kick off in about ten minutes.

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