Why the Palm Pre Is a Major Advancement in Smartphones

It seems easy to judge an old smartphone from years ago as not being as good as today's smartphones, but that's not just because of speeds and feeds or just the industrial design. What makes one smartphone better than another is a combination of the materials used, the industrial design that integrates those materials, the user interface, the services provided, and how clever and intuitive the system is. Here, Knowledge Center mobile and wireless analyst J. Gerry Purdy shares 10 reasons why he thinks the Palm Pre is the best smartphone to date.


When the iPhone was introduced two years ago, it was a paradigm shift in smartphone technology, providing what most people feel is a very natural user interface (no instruction manual was needed), along with a sleek industrial design. I can remember thinking, "It's going to take quite an effort for someone to outdo Apple and create a smartphone that would be better than the iPhone." Palm is betting the company's future on the introduction of the Palm Pre.

Many of us recalled that the Treo was the darling of high technology when it was introduced many years ago. It was the first smartphone with a very intuitive UI and everyone had one. But, all of us in technology are quite fickle-we love what we have until someone comes along and creates something better. Then we all jump ship and move on to the next whiz-bang phone that comes along.

Everyone has compared new smartphones introduced in the past two years with the iPhone, and most have come up short. The Palm Pre is the first I've seen to clearly provide a user experience that's as good as or better than the iPhone. The Pre's UI is a little more natural because it leverages many of the things that Treo did well-particularly the layout of the screen while a call is in process. Plus, it goes further than the iPhone in a number of areas, such as integrating more than one kind of information on a single screen.

Here are 10 reasons I think the Palm Pre is the best smartphone to date:

Reason No. 1: The Palm Pre is the first to fully integrate multitasking

The Palm Pre is the first to fully integrate multitasking that allows a number of applications to be running at the same time. You do this all the time on a PC with windows open for many different applications. But in phones, you typically have to run one application at a time.

Now with Palm's webOS, users can initiate an application to check on sports scores, another to check on the prices of stocks (with alerts), and another to check e-mail-all being done while you're on a call. This will become a standard feature on all smartphones within a few years, but Palm is the first to provide it in a popular smartphone product.

Reason No. 2: The Palm Pre is the first to allow information from multiple sources to be integrated into a single application

The Palm Pre is the first to allow information from multiple sources to be integrated into a single application. This is called Palm Synergy, and it provides developers with the ability to bring together information from the Web or from the storage on the smartphone and make it appear in one place. It's like having a mashup tool kit for the phone. Sure, any application could be hardwired to do this, but Palm Synergy makes it easy for any and all applications to integrate information that way.

The easiest example of this is integrating weather for your present location with the calendar so you can see the weather for the day's appointments. Another neat feature in Palm Synergy: Your conversations with the same person are grouped together in a chat-style view. I expect that we'll see some amazing applications built over the coming years that take advantage of Palm Synergy.