Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The new rise of Palm?

I admit, I've got some unresolved bitterness about Palm. I was a happy and even enthusiastic Palm user for nearly a decade, since the second-generation Pilot 1000. Then things started falling apart:
  • Palm devices stagnated, or even slipped back. The T5 was the last model I really liked, and even it was a step down from prior models in some ways; cheap plastic case instead of solid metal case, for example. The LifeDrive was an interesting idea, but the hard drive actually slowed operation and lost its raison d'etre when SD cards matched its size. (And it was way too expensive.) The T|X was an even greater disappointment; cheap build quality, more application instability, and the wireless turned out to be fairly worthless in actual use. (Largely crippled by poor applications/lack of applications, and the inability to download and use software over the 'net, but it really suffered in comparison to the Nokia Internet Tablets I was starting to use at the time.) Then there were the Treos...
  • I never really liked the Treos. The main reason Palm's PDAs stagnated were because of the Treos - but I had no use for a smartphone at the time, and even if I did I thought the Treos were markedly inferior to the mainline Palm PDAs. The devices were much bigger and bulkier than the PDAs - but even with the extra bulk, the keyboard forced the screen to shrink beyond a size I found comfortable, and the keyboard was too small to be useful for me. And then the Treos started stagnating the way the PDAs did.
  • Palm basically abandoned Macintosh users, leaving the Mac version of Palm Desktop/Hotsync to stagnate, and then to rot. No updates for new Palm devices, for stability/memory issues under new OS versions, and the like.
  • All the failed "Palm's Future" projects. Palm tried several times to get a new OS version in place and modernize the platform, Cobalt and the Foleo being two of the most notable; but every time Palm tried and failed to update the platform, it reduced confidence. While similar to the 'next-generation OS' problems Apple went through in the mid-late 90s, Palm's problems were more serious. Apple at least managed to make significant enhancements to their creaky old OS while trying and failing to get something new in place; Palm didn't manage to do much of anything significant for their current customers.
  • The final straw for me was shoddy, even rude, treatment by Palm support the last couple of times I tried to get repair work done through them.
So... objectively, I can admit that the new Palm Pre is a pretty amazing achievement for a company in the situation Palm was in. I can even admit there are some features there that I'm interested in. But at this stage, it's hard for me to be objective about Palm, or to be willing to take a chance on the Pre.

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