Smartphone Smackdown: Apple iPhone vs. Palm Pre

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A Look at Browsing

Web browsing: Palm seems to have created a more effective mobile Web browser that looks to rival the ease of use of Apple's Safari browser on iPhone. But so far Palm has released very little information about this.

How Pre and iPhone compare in other areas:

Cellular interface and carrier: for Pre, you'll have to go to Sprint (EV-DO Rev A), as with iPhone you have to use AT&T. According to J.D. Powers' research, Sprint and AT&T are consistently in the lower-end of almost every wireless telecom category in almost every region of the United States. But that hasn't stopped Apple and AT&T from signing a lot of iPhone users.

The Pre will feature an array of on-device Sprint services, according to Palm, among them, Sprint TV, Sprint Navigation for GPS-enabled turn-by-turn directions, and several streaming radio applications (one being Sprint Radio, with more than 150 channels).

Cost: Sprint has not yet released pricing for the Pre, or contract terms, or service plans. For iPhone, with the required two-year AT&T contract, the 8GB model costs $199, the 16GB model, $299. In a September 2008 comparison of iPhone and T-Mobile's Android-based G1, PC World estimated the total cost of an iPhone over the life of the two-year contract to be nearly $2,400 (unlimited data plan including unlimited texting).

Enterprise-readiness: The enterprise is not a major focus for either Palm or Apple. The Pre, like the iPhone, supports Microsoft Exchange Active Sync to connect with corporate Exchange servers. But the iPhone also supports Cisco's VPN client and Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA 2) for WLAN connections.

Media: both support an array of current audio, image and video standard formats.

Right now, the biggest disappointment with the Palm Pre is the lack of information from Palm about the details, which people are clearly hungry for.

Apple's corporate ethos is "we're cool and you're not, use the product and bask in the coolness." Palm has the opportunity to crystallize a new corporate ethos more suited to the Web's democratic openness, and more importantly, to the Web's sense of that "Star Trek" adventurousness of boldly going where no man has gone before. Just take the users along for the ride, too.

This story, "Smartphone Smackdown: Apple iPhone vs. Palm Pre" was originally published by Network World.

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