AT&T Must Be Afraid of the Palm Pre

Ha! You’ve gotta love it. I just read this article on Engadget. Based on this leak of an AT&T internal document I’d say AT&T execs are fearing the release of the Palm Pre. They put out this little memo to their peeps pretty much saying the iPhone is vastly superior to the Pre. That’s fine…I mean doesn’t everyone talk trash about the competition? Wait…that means AT&T think the Pre IS competition. Rock on Palm!

Let’s look at this chart. Do any of these “giant faults” make you think the Pre is crap?


  • The “unproven app store” for the Pre. I don’t care. As long as I can get my apps I’m happy. Hell, it’s probably better than what I’m doing to get apps onto my Treo right now.
  • “Touchscreen control gestures not intuitive”? Huh? As if we all knew how to use the multi-touch on the iPhone? (I do dig the multi-touch though)
  • Music “no sych capability”. I don’t care. To me it’s a phone. I’ll put music on there when I want. And it’s not THAT hard to drag and drop files.
  • Music again…the Pre lets you download from Amazon too. I’d say that’s a plus, right?
  • “Limited free wifi access”. Huh? Oh yeah, Apple’s deal with Starbucks. Aside from that it’s all the same people! Seriously…c’mon…that’s the best you got?
  • HOWEVER…I will say it kinda blows that the Pre doesn’t have the GSM network for global access. I know that’s a huge issue for some people. For me, it’s not that bad because I don’t travel around the world much. I do know it’s a problem though.

Something that’s NOT on this chart…the crappy AT&T service. I keep seeing all those “more bars in more places” (gotta admit it’s a good campaign if you remember that) ads for AT&T but I hear a hell of a lot of real world complaints about AT&T’s 3G coverage. Sprint’s 3G is pretty speedy.

So, there ya go. AT&T is slamming the Pre. I don’t remember seeing AT&T slam any other phone. Does this bode well for prospective Pre owners? I also recall Apple having a bit of a tizzy with Palm on some patent issues with the Pre. Hmmmm…


  1. The proof will be in the pudding, but there are two items you blow off that may be rather important:

    1) App store. This is huge. There’s no way Apple would have sold 1 BILLION apps in such a short time unless their app store were so easy to use for consumers and so inviting for developers. Palm may be able to replicate that success, but that’s a huge unknown.

    2) No music sync is less important than the larger fact: the iPhone is also an iPod. We’re back to iTunes now, and its dominance. You need an extremely kick-ass user experience if you want to pull them away from iTunes.

    I’d like the Pre to succeed, if for no other reason than to keep Apple on its toes. Healthy competition is a good thing for consumers. But Palm pretty much has to do this right the first time.

    They don’t have much runway left. If they pull a Blackberry Storm and screw up usability, whatever Apple pulls out of its hat in Q3 or Q4 will overwhelm the Pre.

  2. Erik,

    1) I agree with you on Apple’s app store. Apple is known for great usability in their machines and this also translates to the wild success of iTunes and now the app store. However, is this a reason to pick one phone over another?

    2) I’m not so sure the music synching is a big deal for phone users. For iPods and other music devices, definitely. But for phones, well, I dunno. I don’t think Palm is too concerned about pulling market share from iTunes.

    A big YES on competition. I’m a fan of Apple but I do think competition makes things better for all consumers be they Apple fans, Palm fans, Blackberry fans…whoever.

  3. There’s an interesting subtext to this discussion. I’m thinking of the Pre as a would-be iPhone-killer, which means I’m thinking of it as a handheld computer that also happens to be a phone. You seem to be thinking of the Pre as a phone with additional capabilities.

    In my opinion, in order to establish a position in the market the iPhone created, the Pre will have to be a well-integrated device with well-integrated services, one of which is telephony.

  4. Very good point Erik,

    The iPhone has certainly created its own marketplace as an all-around mobile device. Whereas it started off as an iPod that you could make phone calls with, the app development has certainly transformed it to what it is now. The fact you’ve got major enterprise apps being ported to run on it shows that it’s not just a phone that you can listen to mp3s on and check the occasional email.

    The Pre seems to want to follow a similar path. The part that I’m most interested in is WebOS. Palm finally realized it’s not just about the phone anymore but with the ease of development of apps so you can get more interest in developers creating for the Pre and more interest in users since there will be more apps. Will the Pre become the ubiquitous Johny-fit-all device that the iPhone has become? Not initially but I think if it gets off to a fairly decent start it could morph into it or at least stay competitive in the smartphone market.

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