Fri Jan 09 2009

Why Apple needed the Palm Pre

My iPhone goes with me everywhere I go - I believe it is one of the most disruptive devices (or systems [1]) built in the last few decades, and I couldn’t love it more. With that out of the way, I’ll make the case that Apple needed the Palm Pre (announced today at CES) to exist in order to actually get serious about their product again. Here’s why:

The last few weeks we’ve been hearing all sorts of speculation and rumors about Apple considering the iPhone the ultimate gaming device, and how it’s set to revolutionize the mobile gaming industry by pushing the hardware in that direction. A quick google search for “iphone gaming” will tell you how hyped up this idea is, and I’m pretty sure you’ll find quite a lot of people excited about that idea. Personally, I hate it. And I hate it to the point that I’m happy that Palm came out with a competitor worthy of that title so that Apple can get back to thinking about the “Phone” in “iPhone”.


The iPhone is a brilliant platform, and has pushed the boundaries of mobile device innovation at a deep level. Regardless of whether it is the best phone to use everyday or not (although I would say it is), it has set a new mark for what defines a phone’s user experience. This is what Apple does right. Personally, I don’t really care if the iPhone lets me play 3D games. Games are not a part of the original vision for the device (“A Phone, an iPod, an internet communicator”), and would only be spreading that vision too thin. Why lose two battles (the phone battle and the gaming battle) when you can blow everyone else out of the water by doing one thing right at a time? I can think of several companies that tried to do that too many times and ended up down in the dumps.

For more information on the Palm Pre check out its official product page or the coverage and hands-on video that Crunchgear and Engadget have of the device.

[1]: Because the iPhone is really the full package of phone + software to manage it + App Store experience. By building the whole system Apple not only controls all your experience (ultimately a good thing for you) and keeps you under their grasp (ultimately, a good thing for them). More on building products systems in a post in the near future.