webOS: Smartphone Round Robin Responses | webOS Nation

webOS: Smartphone Round Robin Responses

by Dieter Bohn Mon, 08 Feb 2010 1:27 pm EST

It's time to round up what my colleagues at SPE had to say about webOS for the Smartphone Round Robin. After the break, their take, my take on their take, and then your take (in the form of comments, naturally). Later this week: we'll announce the Round Robin winners!


Phil Nickinson, WMExperts

Phil had webOS first and comparing it to Windows Mobile, he sees the softer side of the platform:

Palm has been known as the kinder, gentler platform, and that remains true today. Your family can use it. Your friends can use it. Windows Mobile 6.5 is less utilitarian than its predecessor, and we're looking at it to become even more friendly with Windows Mobile 7 in 2010. That could well give Palm a run for its money in the consumer space. As for Palm in 2010? It has to get more hands on its phones. And while the Pre is only six months old, attention spans are short in the mobile world. As Palm's meager empire expands once more, it's going to need new hardware to go with it. Certainly there's already something in the works.

Excellent points, all. It will be very interesting to see if Microsoft continues in the enterprise space where webOS isn't competing much yet or if they'll try to make a bigger play into the "fat middle" of the consumer space were webOS lives. Phil's also exactly right: the biggest issue facing the platform right now is simply that Palm needs to sell more webOS phones. While I won't argue that webOS is 'feature complete' by any stretch, it definitely has enough functionality now to be a serious contender (and webOS 1.4 will further solidify that claim), but until Palm can get enough devices out there to gain the notice of the 'big boys' in mobile app development, it's going to be rough going.

Casey Chan, Android Central

Casey makes an apt comparison:

To make comparisons, the Pre is in a similar position to the T-Mobile G1 last year. Obviously, the Pre is a much more polished device compared to a T-Mobile G1, but it still is only available on only one US carrier, still limited by some hardware oddities, and still needs improvement in battery life and speed--just like the G1. The T-Mobile G1 and Palm Pre both have some great ideas in their respective platforms and cool touches in their respective hardware but you knew/know better devices were/are coming. So what will come next for Palm? I'm actually excited to find out.

I'm going to go ahead and say that the Pre was better out of the gate than the G1 was. Overall it's actually interesting to watch both Android and webOS rapidly develop. Palm has an advantage in that they have fewer types of hardware out there and so can keep the platform relatively uniform, whereas Android has different versions of the OS on different phones ...all with different upgrade paths and possibilities. However, Android also has the power (and cash!) of Google behind it as well as the ability to get mass-marketing that Palm just can't afford.

Casey also mirror's Phil's point: people are starting to look to the future when it comes to webOS hardware. The Pre Plus and Pixi Plus were both nice iterations, but only iterations. As devices like the Nexus One, HTC Legend and others really step up the specs and performance for Android, the Pre is starting to look a little pedestrian by comparison. The riverstone feel of the Pre is nice, but it will soon be high time to bring something a bit more elegant to the table.

Kevin Michaluk, CrackBerry.com

Kevin finds webOS to have the right features, but not the right performance:

I think a BlackBerry user who picks up one of the new Palm devices will be impressed with the things mentioned at the start of the article -- the intuitive multi-tasking and the notifications -- and will likely be pleased with the experience - the web browser is solid, the app situation is improving (I played some of the 3D games on the PrePlus and experience was pretty darn good) and things like synergy are user-ish friendly. What's missing is the rock. Despite our BlackBerry gripes about things like memory leaks, for the most part a BlackBerry is fast and solid. It's the ultimate communication tool and that reliable performance is what makes it a device you can easily integrate into your life and depend on. The Palm products to me don't seem steadfast enough yet to get to that place of utter dependance. To me it feels like you use your Palm Pre or Pixi, like a gadget, vs. how so many of us simply can't live without our BlackBerrys (if you forget it at home, you always turn around to pick it up. Am I right?!). Oh yeah, and there's no BBM on Palm webOS. Lol.

Well, I think a few PreCentral members might take issue with the idea that the Pre is a gadget but doesn't feel like an essential part of their lives. Whether or not webOS will ever feel as irreplaceable to its users as BlackBerrys do their users is probably just as much as function of how long BlackBerry has been around as anything else. As far as stability is concerned, I actually find webOS to be quite solid, although I will admit that we really (really!) could use some more speed.

...and yes, I still think that BlackBerry Messenger is evil. Nyeah.

Matthew Miller, Nokia Experts

Matthew has actually had the most experience with webOS out of the group (myself excluded), so what he says is worth paying attention to:

Palm webOS devices are very attractive in the mobile space today and my long affair with Palm is a major factor that keeps me thinking about one of their devices. I am still not completely sold out on the idea of Palm gaining any huge market share in the mobile space though and still think they have a lot to prove in 2010.

The feeling that Palm has to "prove" themselves is pretty common out there and, well, it's still true. Yes, webOS is probably the most innovative mobile interface we've seen since at least the introduction of the iPhone and yes, Palm has rapidly added new features and functionality. What they haven't don't yet is sell millions of phones. 2009's introduction and release of webOS was exactly what Palm needed to do in 2009. Gaining market share is what they need to do in 2010 and it's going to take as much effort to do that as they had to put into the original release. The competition is fierce and Palm can't rest on their laurels.

Rene Ritchie, TiPb

Rene nicely sums up the sentiment out there for Palm:

It’s not all rosy for Palm, webOS, the Palm Pre, Palm Pixi, and their mobile strategy going forward. Sprint exclusivity might have guaranteed Palm some money but it doesn’t seem to have given them the sales they needed. They’re hitting Verizon now, and AT&T soon, but if they’d gone on Verizon sooner (before the Droid) they could have had a much bigger impact. Unlike Apple, Google, or Microsoft, they don’t have billions in the bank or other businesses to prop them up. Unlike RIM or Nokia, they don’t have entrenched business or international market share to ride. It’s going to be an uphill battle for Palm. That they’ve accomplished and innovated so much in just a year is an outstanding accomplishment, however, and means I’ll be cheering as they battle up that hill.

Hindsight is 20/20 and hindsight seems to tell us that Palm performed what's probably the most amazing turnaround in the mobile space, ever. However right after they turned around and got pointed in the right direction, they found the new environment to be radically more competitive than it has ever been before. Like everybody else I've spoken to, though, Rene seems to be rooting for Palm to stay in the game. Everybody loves an underdog.