Palm did what Nokia, RIM, and Microsoft couldn't: build a better experience than Apple

When I sat down at the beginning of the Palm Pre announcement press conference I was expecting to watch the death of a company. Palm? Give me a break. It would NEVER do anything interesting and Nokia, Microsoft, RIM, and expecially Apple were about to kick it into the deathbin of history.

I was wrong. WAY WAY WAY wrong.

Palm just did what Nokia and Microsoft and RIM couldn’t do: deliver a better experience than Steve Jobs did.

“Give me a break Scoble, you are drinking the shiny new object Koolaid,” I can hear you saying.

This is why I didn’t post a blog about it all day, even though everyone else did. I wanted to let the Koolaid wear off. I went back to the Palm booth again tonight just to make sure what I saw this morning was real.

I learned even more stuff that just blew me away.

From Palm? Give me a break!

Nokia’s devices that I saw last month just suddenly seem so lame.

Why? Well, when you look at the Nokia N97, which will be out at about the same time as the Palm Pre, you see that they also have a nice UI, but it falls apart when you click down into apps and try to do things. Palm doesn’t fall apart. Click down and you keep getting shocked.

Palm’s bet on social networking integration is a game changer. Click into a contact and you see people’s Facebook info and other info from their social networks. That is huge and not many people will get it.

Palm’s web browser is easier to get around than the iPhone’s is. Dave Winer will like some of the touches that were integrated here.

Are you surfing the web and alert comes up? Your web page doesn’t disappear. Really nice touch.

Are you a developer? Everything is based on standard webstuff. Javascript. Et al.

Cut, copy, and paste. Anymore to say?

How Apple centric is the new Palm team? Well, Chris McKillop is director of Software at Palm. He worked on the iPhone team (showed me pictures of me and my son buying iPhones at the Palo Alto store). One of the PR people at Palm did PR at Apple. Jonathan Rubinstein, who runs the Palm Pre team and led off the announcement, was a key person in development of the iPod and lots of people followed him from Apple to Palm, I heard from several people today.

Here’s some videos.

Peter Skillman, director of new product experience at Palm, shows the out of box experience and how the device’s size compares to the iPhone.
A piece of the announcement event today where they showed off some of Palm Pre’s web features.
Here’s another video of Peter showing off what he thinks the coolest things about the Pre are.

Anyway, the bottom line is Palm has a real winner here. It shows that you can never count a company out. Even one that looks like it’s already out of the game.