Palm announced a new smartphone – the Pre – using its new operating system – webOS. The Pre is a 320 by 480 pixel capacitive multi-touch screen smartphone with an extra touch pad below the screen and 8GB RAM. It has a slide-out keyboard that curves upwards, and connectivity includes EV-DO Rev A, 802.11g, Bluetooth, and GPS. Sprint will carry the device with an exclusive launch in the first half of 2009.
Applications include Google, Facebook, Pandora, Amazon.com, MobiTV, and TeleNav, among others. The new webOS is a multi-tasking Linux OS that differentiates itself with a focus more on web-based application development as opposed to native application development.
Palm started with a closed system where it controlled the device and the OS for PDAs. “The company has gone through many changes over the years as it sold its OS commercially, it almost released a new Cobalt OS but did not, it sold off its OS to ACCESS, and adopted Windows Mobile for some of its devices,” said Philip Solis, principal analyst at ABI Research. “Palm has returned to its roots in terms of working with a closed device-OS system with its new Linux OS.”
After its successful Treo line, Palm has seen limited success with its Centro line. In December the company received a $100 million cash infusion from Elevation Partners to keep it going. Now, it is do-or-die time for Palm. Apple and RIM each design their own hardware and software, as Palm once did. Palm believes that going with a closed device-OS product will be its best path to success.