Palm (PALM) bet the company on a new smartphone platform, and it looks like the bet could pay off.
Palm unveiled its new platform, Web OS, and its first phone, Pre, today at CES in Las Vegas. And from here in San Francisco — without being able to touch it or see it in action yet — it looks pretty good.
Which means… look out Apple (AAPL), RIM (RIMM), Google (GOOG), and Microsoft (MSFT).
Lots of details — pricing, launch date, specs etc. — to get sorted out, but:
- The Pre phone looks nice, with a big touchscreen and a slide-out keyboard.
- Palm seems to be betting a lot on simple Web technologies for its software rather than the complex code required to make iPhone or Google Android apps. This could help get more people quickly writing apps that work with Pre, but might limit their functionality — camera, GPS (if any), etc.
- The phone will launch first with Sprint Nextel (S) sometime in the next six months.
Is this an iPhone killer? No. Will it be the second-best smartphone on the market for consumers? A possibility. A lot can change in six months, but this looks like a huge step up from what Palm has been shipping the last three years.
Update: Will Palm try to price itself into extinction? MediaMemo’s Peter Kafka:
My assumption is that Palm would try to take market share by coming in significantly lower than the $200 or so that Apple wants for its iPhone. But when I ran that by theory by Palm CEO Ed Colligan, he looked at me liked I’d peed on his rug. “Why we would we do that when we have a significantly better product”, he told me, then walked away.
By summer, we expect the iPhone to cost $99. Sorry, Ed, but this is not a “significantly better” product than the current iPhone. And who knows what Apple will announce by the time Pre ships. If this phone is not the same price or cheaper than the iPhone, it has no chance.
Photo: Gdgt Live