If Everyone Likes The Palm Pre, Why So Much Hedging?
from the I'm-Totally-Sure...Well,-Maybe dept
The Palm Pre launches at Sprint this Saturday, and you've probably been seeing an increasing amount of buzz on the subject [that is a Google search link, and today will show buzz, but if you're reading this later, will be meaningless]. I wrote about the Pre on Techdirt after being very impressed with the phone at CES and MWC Barcelona. I wrote, "I'm not sure when the bandwagon is going to hit the trail for this device, but I'm saddling up right now." And in the intervening months, I've noted that more and more reviewers were, like me, heaping praise on the device. But there was something else: many reviewers couched the endorsement of the Pre with caveats. At the end of every glowing article was a conclusion that seemed out of sync with the review. Here were mine, "I can't predict whether the developer community will rally around the Pre, or whether Sprint and Palm will be successful in selling big volumes, but I want to call this one early: the Pre is a great smartphone." Walt Mossberg at the WSJ wraps up his glowing review with, "All in all, I believe the Pre is a smart, sophisticated product that will have particular appeal for those who want a physical keyboard. It is thoughtfully designed, works well and could give the iPhone and BlackBerry strong competition -- but only if it fixes its app store and can attract third-party developers."
The caveats were reasonable. Developers have limited resources, and collective uncertainty in Palm and Sprint performance has us hedging our bets. Sure, we could assert that the device is great, but we could not be sure if the ecosystem would grow around it. But I think I'm in a better position to do that now. When 98 out of every 100 reviews say the device is great, isn't that one hell of a consensus? I haven't seen that kind of agreement in this industry since AFTER the launch of the iPhone. That's exactly the kind of community consensus that seeds an ecosystem. I officially retract my hedge. What content developer wouldn't be at least attracted to a device that gains such consistently high grades? Is it just hype? No. A landslide of positive reviews from people who actually tested isn't hype - it's straight As. That's good news for Palm, good news for consumers in that we get another competitive device to run alongside the iPhone, but only marginally good news for Sprint. Verizon took the wind out of Sprint's sales [sic] by announcing they, too would carry the Pre by year end, and AT&T is rumored to want a GSM version.