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Tuesday, 09 June 2009 17:42

Palm Pre preps firmware update, prods SDK and provides new apps

Yes, the iPhone 3G S has just launched, but Palm’s own webOS revolution is doing well with a quick update, delivered over-the-air, to immediately improve stability for some apps, a dozen new apps arriving post launch, an SDK is on the way and at least 50,000 sold at launch. Not bad, for Palm… but is it enough?

Palm’s Pre has launched and depending on which analyst you listen to, between 50,000 and 100,000 were sold over this last weekend.

Numbers could have been higher, but for Palm’s woes in creating enough of them fast enough.

It’s said to be Palm’s biggest problem right now, with production essential in getting handsets into the hands of customers and in creating a user base worthy of a developer’s time, especially when the iPhone App Store awaits.

Another problem for the Pre is battery life, but at least the battery is removable, unlike its iPhone competitor which admittedly has a better battery in the first place, and especially so in the iPhone 3G S if the new battery life specs are to be believed.

Still, it looks like Palm will sell as many Pres as it can make for the time being, with a dozen new apps having arrived post-launch, an SDK coming soon, and a new webOS 1.0.2 firmware update to improve stability and provide a new alarm clock app, among other improvements.

Sadly the Palm Pre doesn’t do video calls yet, but neither does the iPhone 3G S, something it was widely rumoured to be including and is presumably clearly now set for the iPhone Video or 4.0 due in 2010.

The “Motionapps Classic Emulator” for webOS lets you run 30,000 Palm OS apps, and while this is definitely nice, it pales compared with the 50,000+ real apps available for the iPhone.

Even so, an actual SDK will help Palm refine and improve the webOS as developers push the current version of the OS and the hardware it runs on to their limits, while not only competing against the iPhone, but Android, Windows Mobile 6.1/6.5/7, Symbian and any other phone initiatives out there.

Although the iPhone OS 1.0 seems much more advanced than webOS 1.0, but when webOS gets to version 3.0 too, it should be far more advanced than what we have today.

Palm’s greatest mistake with its previous OS was stopping proper ongoing development and evolution of the Palm OS.

So what happened, and doesn’t the iPhone 3G S now blow the Palm Pre away? Please read on to page 2.

Sony tried expanding it with its own Palm line, but Palm then sold it off and Palm has had to create its own webOS instead to catch up.

What a different company Palm could be today had it stayed at the forefront of mobile OS development and innovation!

Even so, innovation is easy to say and hard to do, and while webOS isn’t as advanced as the iPhone OS, its multitouch capabilities and great potential make the chance of a real Palm resurgence much more likely, bringing always needed competition to the rapidly evolving world of handheld ultra-computing and communication.

But Palm will have to work fast! It needs to catch up - and grow an enthusiastic base of users.

After all, iPhone 3.0 OS and 3G S features outdo the Palm Pre, iPhone OS 3.5 or 4.0 is already well in planning, Google’s Android continues its rapid evolution, Windows Mobile 6.5 is here with 7 coming soon and the true elegance or otherwise of Nokia’s N97 and future Symbian operating systems is all yet to be seen.

Until then, Sprint CDMA customers who have been waiting for a true iPhone-like phone with real multitouch, or the latest Palm upgrade, now have it available at long last.

And when Palm gets around to launching 3.5G versions for the rest of the world (manufacturing issues notwithstanding), its real assault on the global smartphone market, perhaps with the future Palm Pre 2, will truly begin.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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