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  • 1 Post By Koiji412
  1.    #1  
    (prepare for this to be long.)

    I always saw the original Pre as an excellent device to compete when it launched.
    • It had the same resolution (320x480) as the iPhone 3GS and the G1, and technically a better PPI because of the smaller screen size.
    • It had the same general processing power (600MHz, and underclocked to 500MHz just like the 3GS).
    • Same camera resolution (3MP) as the 3GS (but lacking autofocus).
    • Same RAM @ 256MB.

    While the Pre had the unfortunate fact of coming out so much later than these two (giving the others time to polish their software), I see the Pre as an excellent equivalent two these two in specs. But the problem is that the Pre (and soon the Pixi which was lower-end in all specs) was the only webOS device to compete for so long, while Android slowly began to pump out one device after another on all carriers. But before the successor to the Pre would come out to [theoretically] address its problems, as the other OS’ had, palm had already hit turmoil and was going through the transitioning process of being acquired by HP.

    Every device and OS has their quirks, so let’s run them each down for comparison (chronologically).

    iPhone launched June 2007.
    1) Did you know that the iPhone didn't have MMS until the 2.0 update (July 2008)?
    2) Did you know the first iPhone was only on AT&T’s EDGE network (read: closer to 2G than 3G)? While 3G had been out for years, the iPhone launched on a subpar data network (and thus the next iPhone was dubbed iPhone 3G).
    3) Did you know there was no App Store or any third party apps until the 2.0 update? While Treos with PalmOS had many thousands (but of course the OS that had been around for ages by this time, so it doesn't count the same).
    4) Until the January 2008 update, you couldn't send a single text message to multiple recipients.
    5) Did you know you couldn't copy or paste until version 3.0 (June 2009)?
    6) And while it had a 2 MP camera, which was a pretty good for a phone camera at the time, it couldn't shoot video until the 2.0 update (July 2008).
    7) And while the onscreen keyboard would be displayed in portrait or landscape for things such as the web browser, many other native apps such as Messaging and Notes only supported portrait (arrived with 3.0).
    8) One could not sort contacts into groups (friends, coworkers, etc.).
    9) Couldn’t add a custom ringtone until the 1.1.1 update (November 2007).

    I'm sure all this just sounds like mindless criticism toward the iPhone, but it's not. This is simply for perspective.

    Everyone heralds the iPhone as a revolution that it really wasn’t (initially). It lacked so many basic features that common cell phones – not just smartphones like Treos & Blackberries – had supported for quite a while.
    It may not sound like it, but I give the iPhone a hell of a lot of slack, actually, because it truly pioneered the smartphone as we know it today.
    My problem is that people seem to forget that each of these platforms started somewhere -- all with their own quirks and oversights. I only mean to point out how these sorts of features were added slowly to the OS as it aged, (which one could argue either way were added quickly or slowly).

    So then let’s jump to Android’s G1 in October of 2008.
    A litter over a year by Apple, it launched with some comparable specs/features such as an already live App Market and a 3.2 MP camera with autofocus (something that didn't come until the third iPhone).

    On the negative side:
    1) Camera could not adjust resolution (another thing common cell phones could do…)
    2) Video recording was not available until version 1.5 (April 2009).
    3) No video playback til 1.5
    4) No date & time appeared in call log until 1.5
    5) Combined email inbox didn’t appear until the 2.0 update (October 2009).
    6) Couldn’t install apps to the memory card until 2.2 (May 2010).
    7) No Adobe Flash support until 2.2 (haha, before webOS. Remember that debacle?)

    Now let’s talk about the Palm Pre, launched in June 2009.
    1) Hardware was a bit sluggish (a problem that, I feel, only worsened with the age of the device, though it may have been my overclocking XD).
    2) No character counter in messaging app. ***? How?!
    3) Pushing the Return key in the Messaging app would send the message than return down a line. Maybe just my own quick, but VERY annoying to me.
    4) No onscreen keyboard (at all).
    5) No quick access to things like screen brightness (i.e. Treos used Opt+P) or data toggled on/off.
    6) Couldn’t record video until the 1.4 update (February 2010).
    7) No directional buttons for finer cursor placement. Could hold Opt and drag on screen, but still not very precise.
    8) No Adobe Flash support until the 2.0 update (October 2010).
    9) No autofocus camera

    So, to put it all in perspective, the iPhone launched in June 2007.
    More than a year later the G1 launched in October 2008 (though Android didn’t really gain any traction until the Motorola DROID released in October 2009 with 2.0 onboard).
    The Pre launched in June 2009.

    All had low-end hardware at release (though I’d say webOS suffered the most from it as the OS is more of a resource hog). Until their second generation (iPhone 3G [iOS 2.0], DROID [Android 2.0 Eclair], Pre 2 [webOS 2.0]), none really had as much going for them.

    Each platform took this long to reach 2.0
    iOS: 06/2007-07/2008 = 13 months
    Android: 09/2008-10/2009 = 13 months
    webOS: 06/2009-10/2010 = 16 months

    However, the Pre 2 in October 2010 was only available in the unlocked GSM flavor (and thus 2.0 by official means [read: not homebrew]) and was not on an official carrier until it hit Verizon in February 2011, which would make it 20 months. Ouch.
    While I want to say something to the effect of, “to be fair, palm was going through a tough transitional period being bought up by HP” and all, I wouldn’t be fair to the consumer. And even when the Pre 2 did release, it was only on Verizon, not Sprint where most of its userbase resided.

    The difference is Apple releases new hardware yearly along with a new OS version with plenty of new features. Android on the other hand floods the market (not meant to be negative term) with so many devices, you’ll surely find one for you. Whether you want a slab, portrait slider, landscape slider; 3.1” screen, 3.5”, 3.7”, 4”, 4.3”, etc. (now going as far as the Note with a 5.3”...wow), you’ll likely find something to suit you. Plus, each manufacturer has their own tweaks (MotoBlur, Sense, etc.) to enhance the OS’ level of polish and functionality. Android truly has mastered the art of choice.

    webOS on the other hand…not so much. In fact, not at all. We have two form factors: the portrait slider (Pre series) and the bar (Pixi). I mean, we have the choice of a 3.1” screen or a 2.6”. They were heading in the right direction with the Pre 3 matching the iPhone screen size and I think had things held on longer (read: HP not bailing like they did), we would have seen larger devices as we moved on. In hindsight, I really don’t disapprove of the direction they went with size & form factor, but I do with the time it took them to get there.
    (my ideal way of launches):
    1) Had the Pre 2 launched in twelve months (June 2010),
    2) then a slab device about four months from there (~October/November 2010),
    3) a landscape slider shortly after the February 9th event,
    4) and finally the Pre 3 in June 2011, I think we would have definitely been better off.
    5) Specialty items like the Veer shouldn't have gone out until after the other form factors have been addressed.

    But that goes back to palm’s most rudimentary problem: hardware. They wanted to follow like Apple so badly (and I understand why and agree), but they simply did not have the resources to put that plan into motion. Even with HP’s moneybags, the plan was simply not executed well. The original Pre launched with hardware that dampened the webOS experience (and the pixi suffered much the same). The Plus models helped with the memory problems and doubled the storage space, which helped with the complaint of lack of any storage slot.

    So, after all my long rambling about how all the platforms are alike, now I ask, what could webOS have done differently? What did iOS and Android do better that brought them to where they are now? Please, let me give you my view:

    iOS:
    Well, for one, by the time the Pre launched, iOS was at 3.0 with all those complaints I listed at the top fixed. That alone is quite a head start. Then there’s the enormous App Store (around 50k at the time) including many key apps such as the kindle and a document editing suite.

    Android:
    Most Android devices were running 1.5 (Cupcake) with the App Market sitting somewhere around 14k when the Pre launched; not too shabby.

    As they went on, however, both platforms – on top of all the bug fixes and addressing lacking features/functionality – were adding hot new features all the time.
    • Android got widgets (still something I am a bit jealous of and I wish webOS would implement something at least similar).
    • iOS got turn-by-turn navigation (which Android later got in the 1.6 update in September 2009).
    • Android got the ability to upload YouTube videos directly from the device (pretty slick. iOS wouldn’t get until later the same month and webOS until February 2010) as well as photos directly to Picasa.
    • iOS gets HTML 5 support (which Android wouldn’t get til the 2.0 update in October 2009).
    And don’t forget about those just plain awesome things like Google Voice, Google Skymap, etc.

    What I think the webOS team should have done (and should still do) is sit in a room and directly compare each aspect of their work to the competitors. Some of my obvious fixes would be:

    App Catalog.
    Speaking of the app itself, I think with the 2.0 update it looks great and is far more functional than Android’s App Market while the iOS app, on the other hand, comes much more polished (though I still hate how downloading a new app kicks you out to the home screen, forcing me to go back and reload the App Store).
    But the big issue that goes without saying that the number of apps needs to be heavily worked on.

    email.
    While I personally like the app, its competitors do have plenty of features over it such as multiple item selection and threaded messaging. Anything that the end user could complain about (“oh, my Evo had…” or “could…”) is an immediate strike against the webOS. Fix it! I mean, it took Apple til iOS 4 to incorporate webOS-style email synergy…

    Hardware.
    Needs new (larger) screen sizes. Personally, I think the specs portion was addressed with the Pre 2 (except for the lack of auto focus) and moreso with the Pre 3 (which was en route to addressing the screen size complaint). However, I think the big “hardware” problem was the speed at which it was pumped out. Apple pumps once a year; if you can’t make that, how can you ever hope to compare with Android hardware availability? Also, add an expansion slot for microSD. People want it and it can be a deterring factor for many customers.

    Personalization.
    Sure, you can change your wallpaper (*sigh* @ iOS) and, but that’s about it… Remember, we’re just talking about devices out of the box, no homebrew or apps. But what else? What about settings? I adore Android for its plethora of options (a trait webOS didn’t pick up from its older brother, PalmOS). Really, palm just needs to look at the changes the homebrew community comes up with (launcher icon sizes, and include them in the official code. Done.

    Simple features.
    It needs more “wow” moments. How many times have you (or you know) been wowed by something an iPhone or Android could do? Skymap was one of those to me. So was Soundhound (which wasn’t even possible on webOS with the lack of a mic API for so long). Folders in iOS 4 even gave me a bit of a wow (more of a “wow, why didn’t I think of that?”).

    Yeah, that was extremely long-winded (I had a lot to vent). If you actually read it all, I’m impressed. Either way, that is my long take on the entire situation.
    So, what would you have done differently? What problems do you think HP/palm should have addressed? What features should they have added to compete better?
    Last edited by Koiji412; 12/22/2011 at 06:35 PM. Reason: said microUSB where I meant to say microSD
    Palm Zire 72 > TX > Treo 700w > Treo 700p > Treo 755p > Pre Plus > Pre 2 > Pre 3
    tholap likes this.
  2. #2  
    Fair summary and I agree with most of what you said.

    Palm probably couldn't have done it much differently. They were unlucky with the hardware quality of the original Pres and running out of resources to compensate for that. The original ad campaign was a mistake though. I don't even think that elvish lady was as bad as many think - but the ads simply didn't tell people what was great about webos.

    HP had all the resources to do better - and in various parts they did much better. The Pre3 is a great product. But the TP has flaws (no gesture area, damn glossy case, problems with the backside). And overall it looks to me that HPs leadership was embroiled in in-fighting about strategy and it shows in their lack of focus, cancelled devices and delays.

    But that's all in the past. None of that can be changed. At best a future owner could learn from the mistakes.

    IMHO - if there is a future player that wants to succeed with webos this should happen:
    * Pay for the TOP 10-20 of most demanded apps. Provide a great office and media playing experience out of the box (it's almost there - just needs some polish and tweaks).
    * Finish polishing the browser - it only needs a few tweaks
    * Bring gesture area (bezel on all sides) back to tablet
    * Bring out 2 tablets: 1 cheap one - brutal compromises on specs, but as cheap as possible, 1 expensive one - list price near IPad, but effective sale price noticably lower - bundle deals everywhere. Buy Tablet - get printer free (they make most money form ink anyway). Buy high end laptop get TP2 for half. Buy TP2 - get $50 in app credit (boosts app sales - and indirectly development).
    * Do $1 mio app contest again - Palm had a good idea there
    * Make sure salespeople know about webos and want to sell it. Everything else counts for nothing when salespeople steer potential customers to other devices. Motivate in every legal way possible
    * ad blast
    Pre -> Pre3 & TP32 -> Nexus 5
  3. cgk
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    #3  
    Tholap - On your last point, Nokia seem to thinking hard about that one which is why they are giving free WP7 to thousands of sales representatives, they also have some seriously impressive looking point of sale stands and also some really eye-catching units for deployment in shopping centres.
  4. #4  
    Nokia doesn't have to think as hard about this. It's what they did for many years.

    They used to own the mobile market. Outside the US they still are big. And they want first place back.

    Reducing themselves to MS OEM is sad though and risky.
    Either WP7 fails - or just lingers - then Nokia fails with it.
    Or they make it a success - then they totally depend on MS (ok - and vice versa). That would be a de-facto merger.
    Pre -> Pre3 & TP32 -> Nexus 5
  5.    #5  
    I agree with all that. I thought the Touchpad should have been bundled with the touchstone from the get go. It is definitely one of webOS biggest features it can still claim to itself (for now). You know those things aren't worth $80 to manufacture, they could have easily tossed one in for at least "specials."

    The one thing I question is the gesture area around the entire bezel. I understood why HP decided against it because it would be so easy to do things accidentally by just holding or moving the device. The Playbook did do a fantastic job incorporating gestures, but it's all software that senses which direction you're dragging your finger onto the screen from. webOS gestures like Back and Advanced Application Switching (what I miss most) I just see as troublesome to implement without being problematic, but that's just me.
  6. #6  
    What could have gone better:

    1. A better SDK for developers. The SDK didn't provide the right APIs to make really interesting or powerful apps. It also didn't sufficiently leverage the one thing that makes webOS unique -- that apps can be written by people with web programming skills not Objective C / Java skills.

    2. Better partnerships. This was hard because Palm was a small fish compared to Apple/Google. Both iOS and Android have first class Google Maps apps with Street View and turn-by-turn; the Google Maps app on webOS sucked hard by comparison. Obviously, Android has first class support for Google products because it's developed by Google.

    For example the Gmail app on Android is pretty good. Supports labels (not just folders), threading, etc, great if you only use Gmail. But the stock mail app (for non-Gmail accounts) on Android sucks by comparison. Try using it with Exchange; it's no picnic. You can tell where Google's priorities lie.

    In terms of the developer SDK and developer partnerships, Palm did one thing right: they got a lot of top tier 3D games ported to webOS. Sometimes even before Android. Other partnerships were less successful. Anyone remember Documents to Go?

    3. Better marketing. Motorola/Verizon spent something like $100 million on marketing and it made the Droid the first successful Android phone. Palm didn't have that much money to blow but clearly they should have come up with a better ad concept. Don't underestimate the power of marketing.

    4. Non-crappy Verizon salespeople. Did they even know any words besides "Droid"?
  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by Koiji412 View Post
    I agree with all that. I thought the Touchpad should have been bundled with the touchstone from the get go. It is definitely one of webOS biggest features it can still claim to itself (for now). You know those things aren't worth $80 to manufacture, they could have easily tossed one in for at least "specials."
    Totally agree that the Touchstones are way overpriced.
    My guess is that Palm made the Pre as inexpensive as possible and still make a little profit. And then hoped that everybody and his sister would get Touchstones and they make a pile of cash with that.

    But HP should have changed strategy. Give the touchstones a highish list price tag - then do lots of bundle deals - First month super deal - Buy a Pre 3 - get a $65 Touchstone for *free*. (don't forget to throw in app credit - HP gets 30% back anyway and it feeds demand for devs).

    Quote Originally Posted by Koiji412 View Post
    The one thing I question is the gesture area around the entire bezel. I understood why HP decided against it because it would be so easy to do things accidentally by just holding or moving the device.
    Fair point - but IMHO solvable.
    By all means- make it optional. We have an Orientation lock - add a Gesture area lock option for people who don't like it and have trouble with it.

    But all-around bezel gesture area doesn't mean it's all active at the same time. Move the active gesture area with the orientation.
    Also de-activate gesture input whenever there is continuous input (when you hold it at that side).
    I believe that the problems are solvable by a couple of competent engineers with talent. I'm sure HP could have found a couple of them in their workforce.

    I also believe that dropping the gesture area from the TP was not a design decision.
    My guess is that the TP was already in the works - as a W7 tablet. And then got reworked when HP bought Palm and immediately cancelled W7 tablet plans.

    And that was another problem for HP. They always where too focused on the tablet. I understand why the tablet form factor was of high importance to them. They need it while they try to compete in the PC biz.
    But thinking of the smartphones as an optional thing is a mistake IMHO. They go together. It needs to be part of a range of interconnecting devices.
    Apple had smartpones and media (ITunes) in place before they launched the IPad. And I believe that was a necessary pre-condition for the IPads success.

    HP did get all the building blocks they needed. But their prime concern was getting the tablet out. Things like having HP-Play in place and the Pre3 out (by far their best product IMHO) where also-rans for them.

    The Veer was never the problem. It's a fine phone - for its niche. The TP had
    The Pre3 is great - but launched last of the 3.

    Making the Veer and TP the yardstick for webos success was a mistake.
    Launch the Pre3 big time, invest in devs and sales - then measure the success next year after TP2. The first gen never had a chance of making it big. It's a small platform. The first gen is there to lay the foundations. To get enough stuff out so devs have a market and we get gradually out of the hen-egg problem. If you can't play this game for at least a year - then don't get into it.

    And the same will be true for W8 tablets. It won't be the easy success that some people assume it to be.

    I can only hope if the unlikely (but possible) happens and webos gets a third owner (Sony, Lenovo, Dell, Asus, Acer - or even a 180-turned HP) that they learn from HPs mistakes and do it right this time.
    Pre -> Pre3 & TP32 -> Nexus 5
  8. #8  
    For me the one reason I did not buy the Pre at launch was because it did not have the quality PIM apps that Palm was known for; namely a task app that supports repeating tasks.

    A couple of weeks after the launch of the Pre I was glad I did not buy the Pre because of all the reported problems and the Hero was confirmed to be coming to Sprint (I fell in love with the Hero's Sense UI).

    I have since moved on to the Droid Incredible because Verizon is the only reliable network in my area and the areas that I travel to. I'm now getting ready to upgrade to the Galaxy Nexus because I want timely OS upgrades, a LTE phone and I love the ICS UI. The Sense UI looks dated now and also takes up to much screen real estate.
    Last edited by slbailey1; 10/30/2011 at 04:16 PM.
  9. #9  
    While I truly have a soft spot in my heart for WebOS, here are a few things Palm should have done from the start...

    • WebOS was unpolished, and lacked the luxuries that iOS had like when tapping a button or text box even if you did not tap it directly iOS would still recognize your action and perform what you want, where as on WebOS it was literally like being in a web browser where everything had to be done perfectly.
    • The curved corners on the screen made it feel very cramped. The design of having curved corners is a beautiful and unique idea, but the Pre's screen needed to be atleast 3.5 inches to be satisfactory to customers.
    • The plastic throughout all Pre devices was such a turn off to not only customers but salesmen in carrier stores. The screen lacked luster and pailed in comparison to the iPhone.
    • Poor poor poor advertising! My sister and I would laugh endlessly when that commercial came on with the albino girl.
  10. #10  
    I bought a Pre about a month after it was introduced. It lasted maybe all of 10 months before it became inoperable, with no drops and with me babying it. It was gradual -- first the bad oreo effect, then the plastic around the USB door cracked and fell off, and then the touch screen stopped working. Sprint would not fix it under warranty due to the USB crack, so I raised a huge stink in the store, and they offered to move my upgrade up a month so I could get an Evo (it was about the launch).

    What a difference in quality in all respects. Android, while not perfect, suited me much better than webOS. And the phone is built like a f'n tank. So I guess the point is that Palm cut a lot of corners to get the Pre and webOS out there, and it left a bad impression with a lot of people. However, they had to get it out there, so saying they could've taken more time to refine things is pointless, because they would've be too far behind iOS and Android to make it worthwhile.
  11. #11  
    oh, they could have done sooo many things differently... where to start...

    pixi... what a stupid phone in that it was just a waste of time because it sold a fraction of numbers of pre's sold. a niche phone that was irrelevent. who wanted a smaller screen and even more limited apps to what the pre was running.

    why they couldnt/wouldnt come out with a slab?!!

    they could have made a bigger impact with a slab. even if they were still on one carrier. i mean, look at hero when it came available on sprint... no problems with slab there.
  12. #12  
    and yes, they should have addressed the hw issue. people would be more forgiving in waiting on sw updates but nothing you can do when your phone falls apart in so many ways until they basically fall apart.

    you hear webos diehards carrying taped up phones in hopes it stays together to keep using webos. i still have my iphone 2g working like day one and unlocked it so that she can use it last summer in china with no probs.

    should have made a slab.

    maybe they didnt have the api for a virtual keyboard or something. i wouldnt doubt it something stupid like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by jrstinkfish View Post
    I bought a Pre about a month after it was introduced. It lasted maybe all of 10 months before it became inoperable, with no drops and with me babying it. It was gradual -- first the bad oreo effect, then the plastic around the USB door cracked and fell off, and then the touch screen stopped working. Sprint would not fix it under warranty due to the USB crack, so I raised a huge stink in the store, and they offered to move my upgrade up a month so I could get an Evo (it was about the launch).

    What a difference in quality in all respects. Android, while not perfect, suited me much better than webOS. And the phone is built like a f'n tank. So I guess the point is that Palm cut a lot of corners to get the Pre and webOS out there, and it left a bad impression with a lot of people. However, they had to get it out there, so saying they could've taken more time to refine things is pointless, because they would've be too far behind iOS and Android to make it worthwhile.
  13. #13  
    Not be a complete mess of an OS. My opinion of course.
  14. #14  
    I like webOS, but the biggest mistake out of anything is that they took so long on it. I mean, the years of only having Garnet and WM devices was bad enough, but when they announced their next big thing, it needed to be ready at announcement. Unfortunately, even 6 months later in June when it released, it was completely unfinished and missing basic features. I mean, remember at launch? We couldn't even change SMS or email tones without hacking the device. And while they did update it very rapidly after launch, that doesn't change the fact that it was unfinished.

    The next huge mistake was that 2.x was buggier and slower than their previous release, and that still hasn't changed.

    And then they repeated history and released the Touchpad about one or two updates before it was ready, and that was the final nail in the coffin.

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