June 6 is the official release date for the Palm® Prē™ which I described in my February column. Its price was uncertain up until its official announcement. It will be $199.95 as Palm is initially offering a $100 rebate. The US service will be through Sprint®. I could not find information on service outside of the US. Less clear at this point is exactly how the service plans for phone and web service will be structured. I have seen some early suggestions that the plans will be quite competitive. There seem to be a lot loyal Palm fans who are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to purchase a Prē. It seems that some potential customers have already gone with competing devices, with the Apple® iPhone being the number one competitor. The Palm Prē will provide access to all of the exclusive content on the Sprint Now Network, including Sprint Navigation, Sprint TV and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile Live. It will be interesting to see how this compares to competing devices and their application suites.
Initially, only a few, select partners received the software development tools for the Prē, named Mojo™. Palm is now expanding access to these tools. Palm claims that it will be easy to develop applications for the new platform. It will be interesting to see if medical software developers go this route. It is currently not clear to me if Palm will attempt to control what is available as Apple has done with the iPhone. One item currently missing is software allowing the display and editing of Microsoft® Office documents. DataViz®, which supports a large array of PDAs, has not yet announced a version of Documents To Go® for the Prē. It is possible that they are waiting to see the number of users who opt for the new platform.
The specifications have remained as originally described. The Palm site now has videos showing what appears to be incredible integration among the various functions of the Prē. The system is capable of integrating personal and work calendars and moving between applications while carrying information between them using a feature Palm calls Synergy. If this works as advertised in real life, it will be quite useful.
I continue to learn more about my BlackBerry®. My device comes with a built-in application called Maps which is an application produced for Research in Motion® by TeleAtlas. I used it extensively at the ATS International Meeting in San Diego this past May. Compared to Google™ Maps, the application is harder to use and seems to have a lot less information. I used it to find restaurants and it missed a large number of listings, especially when searching by category. As I noted before, one can add Google Maps to a BlackBerry but it requires that the application be installed on the server, rather than on the device. This leaves corporate users like me dependent on decisions made by corporate Information Technology.