Even as they write glowing first reviews of the Palm Pre smartphone, industry pundits are privately saying Palm faces a huge uphill battle to win market share. So, while exciting the excitable will bring big Pre sales this weekend, what happens next?
The Apple rumor mill is foaming with loose talk that Steve Jobs will return to the fray as early as Monday to introduce next-generation iPhones. If they appear that early--I'd been expecting early July--it will tell us several things:
1. Apple has been stung by all the Pre speech and wants to smite Palm ASAP. The smackdown comes sooner or later, so why not sooner?
2. Apple is willing to divert attention away from its next-generation OS, codenamed "Snow Leopard," because consumer products now drive the company.
3. Steve isn’t just about to return, he's ready to start taking names, with the Pre being first on his list.
An Apple announcement that takes place a month from now, won't seem so metaphysical to the iPhone elite, but will have the same calming effect on Pre sales. Palm will just sell more in the meantime.
As exciting as the Pre may be, the fact remains that software sells hardware. The Pre's lead in operating system functionality may last but a short time, like until Apple's new models hit the streets. But, Pre's lack of a huge applications library is a challenge that's likely to plague Palm for a year or more, best case.
Wise shoppers will give the Pre hype a chance to settle, look at whatever Apple puts on offer, and seriously consider Android devices when they begin to appear in large numbers later this year.
As a happy iPhone user, I already know what I'll be buying. But, there will be many exciting phones released between now and Christmas to tempt those who haven't already caught the smartphone fever. You lucky people!