Palm's Pre: More (and less) than an iPhone

While the WebOS-based Pre will have a multitasking leg up on the iPhone, Apple could knock another leg out from under the new smartphone even before the Pre launches

It will be interesting to see how Apple reacts to news that Palm's Pre knows how to interact with iTunes. While not a business feature, iTunes support would make buying or switching to the Pre much easier for millions of the iTunes faithful.

Multitasking, another key feature of the Pre, may be a more difficult sell as customers may not understand what the ability to run multiple applications simultaneously gets them. Isn't task switching enough? Especially if you can already listen to music and read email at the same time?

Key to gaining acceptance will be excellent Pre demos showing users what the ability to run more than one application at a time can accomplish. This is fairly easy on a big-screen desktop PC, but on a tiny handheld out-of-sight has always meant out-of-mind for the user.

That could change as developers build applications--Android, Blackberry, Symbian, and Windows Mobile all support multitasking--that do or watch things in the background while only occasionally popping up a report to the user.

Multitasking is conspicuously absent in the iPhone 3.0 operating system, although there have been rumors that Apple is speeding the feature to market. iPhone 3.0 devices are expected to be announced within the next 90 days and the new OS will also be an upgrade to current models.

While the WebOS-based Pre will have a multitasking leg up on Apple at its June 6 introduction, Apple could knock another leg out from under the new smartphone even before the Pre launches.

The Pre gains iTunes compatibility by telling the desktop app that it is an iPhone that doesn't understand Apple's copy-protection. This allows the Pre to download content that isn't copy protected, including iTunes Plus and music that users have uploaded themselves.

Counting on Apple to continue offering a feature it doesn't really need, in this case the ability to not download copy-protected music that the iPhone can play but Pre cannot, seems risky.

Making Pre a less-than-adequate iTunes client probably doesn't work in the long run, but locking out other phones has always been Apple's policy. Will the Pre change that? Not if Apple sees value in kicking its new competitor in the knees.

Also, many users already have large collections of copy-protected iTunes songs, purchased from the Music Store, that the Pre is unlikely to ever be able to play.

In this battle of dueling features, Palm may have the stronger position, but shouldn't count on Apple helping its Pre trounce the iPhone.

David Coursey tweets as dcoursey and can be e-mailed using the form at www.coursey.com/contact.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ApplePalmPalm Preiphone 3.0

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

David Coursey

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?