Monday, March 9, 2009

My take on the Pre? I'm keeping my Treo 680 for a bit yet

OK, we've seen, we've heard, we've liked what we saw...and yet...and yet...

I can't quite wrap my head around this new paradigm... whit:
  • no expansion slot. So, 8GB is 8Gb and if I want more, I've got to buy a whole new unit? That's ridiculous. And, how do I back up my data? I love Resco Backup. I dropped my Treo 680 last year and the screen cracked. I got a new GSM unlocked Treo through CraigsList, popped in the SD card I use for backing up my data, hit a button and voila - in a few minutes the new 680 looked identical to the old 680 - data, system preferences, everything. Pre won't do that.
  • no mention of desktop hotsync. So, not only is there no expansion slot for additional memory, there's no mention of a desktop application. Where's my data?
  • cloud claptrap. My data, in the ether? But, what if I don't do Facebook, and what if I don't keep contact info in my yahoo mail? And what if I don't have access to the internet all the time? And what if I do, but the data transfer fees my ISP charges are extortionist? That Palm has left us Palm OS5 users without answers to these questions is so frustrating.
  • data security. Never mind data integrity (where IS my data?) but how safe is it? Palm OS security isn't the most bulletproof. Does Pre automatically log in to all the various stations on the web where pieces of my data reside and stay logged in all the time? Or does it "check in" periodically incase one of my Facebook friends changes their profile? And, if I lose my Pre, does someone easily have direct access to all my website IDs and passwords...? Again, Palm has failed to walk us from what we know to what they are trying to push.
  • GSM? Anyone? Bueller? In Canada?
  • leaving legacy emulators to 3rd party. In other words, the loyalists who have invested time and money are not a part of Palm's vision - meeting our needs is someone else's problem. This almost doesn't bother me since so much of Palm's success has been the opportunity for 3rd party developers to make a little money and provide variety of software for a truly personalized customized PDA in a competitive market providing affordability. However, there still should have been some mention, some acknowledgement that Palm OS5 users who have stayed the course while all our friends have been iPhoning and Blackberrying away with glee have, after all these years, become very comfortable with the software we have been running.
  • no stylus? So, all the unique software we've installed that require the input precision of a stylus tip? I can't do sketching or selecting small checkboxes with a finger. Can I run a Pre?
  • price. Why so secret? Price is part of the 4 marketing Ps of a product. I cannot think of "upgrading" to this odd platform, having to leave behind an entire way of thinking about my data, not to mention the accessories and media, and then, on top of all of this, having to spend >$300 to do it? Regardless of the foregoing, this one thing could be the deal breaker.

I'm afraid the webOS and Palm Pre appear to be aimed more at people who do not take seriously their personal data management, people who are looking for "a cool phone" more than the robust info management platform we Palm OS5 users have held onto for so long hoping for the next generation to acknowledge our needs.

This Pre seems to ignore, totally, the very areas that Palm loyalists were looking for. How do I make the jump to this new paradigm?

Or, should I hit eBay and Craigslist and stock up on GSM Treo 680s?

Times change - get over it?
Granted, times and technology changes. I get that. My collection of 8-track and cassette tapes are nearly forgotten as I now carry nearly my entire collection on a single SD card in my Treo. The 600 was a step forward. The 650 is legendary. The 680 was a nice stabilizing offering. No doubt the Pre standard will become accepted and we'll move forward from there. Fair enough.

The lesser of two evils
And, after too many incremental updates that had Palm OS5 users whining that there was no good reason to upgrade (I know a few Treo 650 users, and there are people still actually running Treo 600, which I find absolutely astounding), Palm has not disappointed in coming to the table with a serious bevy of major advances that are truly pace-setting, industry-leading. Had they done less, we'd have complained.

So, I can readily admit that, between not doing enough and doing too much, the latter is the lesser of the two evils.

However, as I've written previously, it just seems that this monumental step forward didn't keep the core loyal users close enough in mind, on two fronts. Not only has Palm forced us to re-conceive of how we interact with our information, but they've also not shown any sensitivity to hold our hand and walk us through how we would migrate our way of thinking. I needed to see them connect the dots and say "you used to do this this way, now you do this that way."

When so many of our peers were jumping ship to get a Blackberry or iPhone, we OS5 die-hards hung in there with the jibs and jabs and laughs and scorn. We fumbled with our expansion cards, cursed when AudioGateway crashed, pouted when we were alone in our misery while others enjoyed their wi-fi, and tried to take comfort in the custom software we had installed that made our PDAs truly unique to our needs. We've become so set in our habits and use of our PDA in part because Palm was so long in coming up with something better.

And this is how Palm thanks us? By totally dismissing our way of doing things and acting as though learning a new thing will be a piece of cake?

If you are a Palm OS5 user who has installed more than three 3rd party apps to make your PDA meet your needs, I'd like to hear from you. Am I alone, am I nuts?