So, travelled to Germany this morning to activate the Pre2. Management overview: it failed
The longer version:
I bought an O2o prepaid sim card, with an Internet-Pack-M to Go mobile internet package. There was a credit of 1 euro on the card, to be used for calling. And since I wasn't planning on using the sim to make phone calls I didn't put more credit on it. The sim was activated in the shop. (note: you need a German address and an ID (Passport) to buy a prepaid sim card in Germany).
So, I put the sim in my old Pre1 to check whether it was activated. It was.
Then, put the sim into the Pre2 and started it up. I created a new account with Palm. Chose German as the language. During this procedure I had to enter the Internet APN of O2 (which is: pinternet.interkom.de) to get any internet connectivity at all. Everything went fine (except for really bad coverage) until the question for recovering the password. I could not choose the question (the drop down remained read-only) and the device started complaining that it could not send an SMS (received a total of 12 messages that the sms could not be sent. Note that I did not send the sms myself, it must be part of the activation process). So I was stuck.
Then I remembered that I had not yet activated the internet package. Did that on the Pre1 and restarted the activation on the Pre2.
So created another new account, German language, etc. Everything went smooth. Rebooted automatically after the activation. Next step was entering an account for email, etc. Entered my gmail account. Opened the e-mail app and saw my emails. Rebooted the device.
After the reboot I went to the app catalog. No paid apps. I am able to enter my credit card details.
So obviously something went wrong. I think this happened: I didn't activate the mobile internet pack, due to which the 1 euro credit on the card was used for mobile internet. Then when the sms was supposed to be sent it failed because there was no more credit. And this might be the missing link in my activation process.
I went back to the shop to buy some credit for the sim, activated this on the pre1, rebooted the pre2 with the sim and waited a while, hoping for the sms to be sent again. Don't think this happened.
I also tried erasing the device and creating a new German profile, etc (followed the steps in the GSM thread by GFN). Nothing helped.
So I'll be in touch with Palm coming Monday. Hopefully they can fix it somehow and otherwise I'll be returning the device, since it was ridiculous that I had to drive to Germany to get a fully functioning device anyway.
Just send a reply if there's anything I can do to either get my app catalog fixed or further diagnose why it doesn't work, so others can benefit as well.
Bottom line: make sure that you use a sim card with enough credit for phone, sms and internet and make sure you have good phone and internet coverage when activating the phone.