Thursday, June 11, 2009

Palm abandons its loyal customers with the Pre

I was really excited about the new Palm Pre announcement. Finally, the sensible people who created PalmOS were going to give us a phone plus calendar plus contact list that we could nicely hot sync to the good old PalmOS. A plain, reliable, easy to use, small and efficient software application. EVERYONE I know over 30 is frustrated that they cannot combine their Palm handheld device with their cell phone.

Well I read the Palm Pre announcement about the calendar part.

"Pre uses the Palm® Synergy™ feature to bring your Outlook®, Google, and Facebook® calendars together for one logical view of your day. And if you have the same contacts in different places, Pre can link them together, making it easy to find the information you need.1,2
  • 1 Within wireless coverage area only. Requires data services at additional cost. Third party software, videos and music sold separately. Wi-Fi within range of 802.11b/g Wi-Fi network. Some Wi-Fi hotspots require fee for usage.
  • 2 Available for Exchange ActiveSync only. Requires Microsoft Outlook using Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2 or later. Within wireless coverage area only. Requires data services at additional cost."
So rather than attach the Pre to a USB cable to hot sync my computer at home and my computer at work, I have to do my hot sync over the wireless network! That means that updating my calendar and address book will require a perpetual service agreement with Sprint. So Sprint is making money off of my appointments and my contacts.

This is completely slimey.

This is the Apple iPhone approach. If I wanted that, I could have bought an iPhone two years ago.

Now... why did Palm want to copy Apple? Palm does not have to copy Apple. Palm has PalmOS. It works great. Why didn't they leverage PalmOS? With PalmOS you don't have to sign any agreements with Yahoo or Google or Facebook about how they are going to use your personal information. Those companies would not have your personal information, because your personal information stays nicely hidden in PalmOS.

To add to the general slimeyness....

The Pre requires that you use Microsoft Exchange Server. Yuck. Why? Who wants to set up and administer that big piece of pork? Why involve Microsoft? Now we have to get into the DRM cesspool. Next thing the RIAA will be sending me a letter saying that they read through my calendar and that they noticed I had an appointment called "Journey". (The actual name of the appointment is "Journey up my bottom"; it was the day I was scheduled for a colonoscopy.) The RIAA will tell me to take it down because Journey is the copyrighted name of the band that is under contract to Columbia Records. Then Columbia Records will sue me for using their band's name without their permission.

Does anyone remember when calendars were private?

Come on Palm... don't be a clone of Apple! Return to your roots, cancel the Pre, go back to the drawing board. Why don't you use APIs and have little software agents that go through the Internet downloading and uploading calendar information after checking the user's policy and privacy settings? This would be so much better and you would sell millions.

1 comment:

eric wedel said...

Cancelling the Pre might be a little much, but local USB-based hotsync? Oh yes.. won't buy one without it.

If Palm don't show any indication of coming to their senses by the time a GSM version of the Pre rolls around, will have to develop something for Android or other more open platform.

Just to be clear, MotionApps' Classic is a nice piece of work. But even if they add hotsync to it, that's backwards-looking. How about allowing hotsync to the Pre native PDA apps, as well as Pre native 3rd party apps.

Kinda get the feeling it's not quite done yet, but sure hope Palm get this into WebOS before too long!