Before I gave in and started using an iPhone, I was a stalwart Palm supporter. In the late '90s, I was actually a beta tester for the very first Pilot 1000 device. It was light years ahead of what anyone else was doing at the time, and it "just worked."
Palm led the handheld industry through most of the 2000s, but due to a lack of innovation after the introduction of the Treo 600 series of smartphones, Microsoft's Windows Mobile slowly ate away its market share. But Redmond's offerings didn't catch on with consumers, and that gave a second lease to the Palm OS and its family of products.
Then there was the Foleo, a Linux-based Netbook that perhaps arrived ahead of its time. When it was introduced in mid-2007, reactions were mixed. It was one of the first devices from a reputable and established company to fill the gap between smartphones and laptops, but critics weren't receptive to its $500 price tag and lack of compatibility with third-party software.
But Palm was also quietly tuning a version of Linux for its next-gen handsets. Last week at CES, Palm announced a new operating system, called Web OS, and the first device to run it, the Pre. It also announced an application store, called Pre Catalog. And that's when things got very interesting: the Pre blew everyone away.
Critics, pundits, and all kinds of bloggers (including myself) knew Palm had something to show. We also knew that if Palm didn't hit a home run, it would be game over, if you'll forgive the mixed metaphors.
As it turned out, Palm hit what appears to be a grand slam. Palm has a competitor to the iPhone and the G1. For the first time in years, gadget fans were drooling over a Palm device.
In short, Palm went from a company that nobody cared about to a leader in the smartphone field overnight. No small accomplishment, considering that no real demo units have been sent out, and a mass launch is still months away. This much excitement over a phone hasn't been seen since Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone two years ago. … Read more