Does Palm Pre have a chance against iPhone? IMO: No, but it probably doesn't matter

At CES the product I was most excited by was the Palm Pre. After all, they had hired a bunch of people from Apple and it went further than the iPhone in many places. It had a keyboard. It has an OS that let you run multiple applications at the same time (something the iPhone doesn’t do) and did copy and paste. The OS seemed even better thought out than the iPhone was. Contacts collected data from Facebook and other social networks.

It looked like it would win in the marketplace.

But now it’s March and the tides are changing.

First, last week Apple came out with a set of APIs for the iPhone that many people missed because they were drinking at SXSW. More on those in a second.

But today stuff is leaking about a new iPhone that’s coming out.

Now I’m starting to doubt whether Palm can make it. I’m not the only one.

Lots of iPhones at iPhoneDevCamp

It’s shocking, actually, how well Apple has done with developers. Remember, I was at the first iPhone Dev Camp (included here is a picture of those who attended the first Dev Camp). Apple didn’t show up (a couple of employees did, but they weren’t even allowed to acknowledge that they worked at Apple). How did they turn developers onto the iPhone?

1. Apple sold more than 10 million phones.
2. The experience of using the iPhone got geeks excited. So excited that they put together their own DevCamps even though Apple was pretty clueless.
3. Apple turned on a store that let lots of developers build businesses that are rocking and rolling. Success pulls in even more developers.
4. Now Apple is throwing marketing dollars behind developers. I’ve seen tons of TV ads that Apple’s done. I’ve seen cool Apple ads on the web. The whole front of Apple stores right now features apps.
5. The new OS, coming this summer, lets developers do even more with their iPhones. Pandora’s CTO, Tom Conrad, talked with me at SXSW last week and he was drooling over some of the kinds of things he’s going to be able to build for the new OS and that was before he heard the rumors of the new iPhone.

Can Palm compete with this? If they do, I’ll be the most shocked blogger out there.

I think the bigger question is can Palm get enough hype to push it into a second place status and tear away market share from RIM, Microsoft, and Nokia. The answer to that one is yes.

Why? Because the Palm Pre is so much better than any other phone other than the iPhone. (The Palm is better than the iPhone, actually, but only if you don’t consider all the apps that are being built for the iPhone and only if you don’t consider the new 3.0 stuff that Apple announced last week).

I bet this is the strategy that Palm’s going for. They know not everyone will go for an iPhone. Some people hate Apple (yes, it’s true). Some can’t stand the touch keyboard. Still others still like Palm or just want to use Sprint instead of AT&T.

So, I don’t think there’s any way for Palm to really tear much market share away from the iPhone, but they can do a pretty nice business going after everyone else.

Either way, if I worked at Nokia, Microsoft, or RIM, I’d be working extra hard to figure out how to deal with Apple and Palm. They are going to make 2010 really rough for other cell phone manufacturers if things stay the way they are.

The fun thing about this industry is that in a few months everything can change in a couple of months. Hang onto your seats.

UPDATE: @ian_Wright asked “Do you think Android has a chance?” Yes, definitely. But they are fighting over #2 space too. It looks like Apple isn’t stumbling with developers like it did in the early 1990s with the Macintosh, so it’s going to be very difficult for Android to get mindshare over the iPhone. But Android can easily compete with Palm. Losers here? Nokia, RIM, and Motorola.

Also, @whurley points out that two members of the original iPhoneDevCrew have already put together and it will be in more than 60 cities.

SXSW 2009 will be known as the "SMS & location explosion SXSW"

This week tons of people were asking me “what’s the ‘Twitter’ of this year’s SXSW conference. See, two years ago at SXSW Twitter exploded onto the scene.

Looking back at this year’s conference (pretty tough cause I partied a little too hard with my new friends at Rackspace) it’s clear that this year is going to be remembered for when location exploded onto the scene.

First, everyone’s iPhones didn’t work very well for the first two days of the conference. Turned out that AT&T’s network was overloaded. I met the guy who fixed much of that problem on Sunday (they doubled the network capacity and turned on some new wireless bandwidth). That reminded me of the “Twitter SXSW” when Twitter itself was slow and went down a few times during the show.

But, that’s not the reason why this will be remembered as the “SMS & location explosion SXSW.”

First, it’ll be all the talk about a new app that got its first hype here at SXSW: Foursquare. Techcrunch wrote that up today. What is it? It’s a social app that you report via SMS where you are and it uses that info to build a little game with your friends. Lots of people were talking about it.

When I visited Governor Rick Perry along with a couple of other bloggers Chris Brogan was watching me use Ourdoings to email photos in from my iPhone, which posts them to my friendfeed stream along with a map of where that photo was shot, and he said “why aren’t you using Pixelpipe?” That’s an iPhone app that lets you upload groups of photos when you find available bandwidth. He said it was very valuable to him at SXSW when the iPhone often had very little or no available bandwidth (inside the capital building while we were visiting the governor we had the same problem).

Another app that got some attention at SXSW was CONTXTS, which are mobile SMS business cards. Daniel Graf showed me this. He asked for my phone number, SMS’d that to a number that CONTXTS uses and instantly a note came to my phone with his contact info. Very cool and useful for networking at conferences.

Here, you can try it with my phone. It asked me to “TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO TXT SCOBLEIZER TO 50500.” Now you’ll see how it works and you’ll get my contact information sent back to you.

So, how about you? Did you see any cool location-based services used at SXSW for the first time? There were a ton, like Google Latitude, or Radar, from Tiny Pictures.

Why don’t we list the coolest ones here, or on my friendfeed link, which I’ll post shortly?

Test of a new Twitter tool — paste replies

Have you ever wanted to ask your Twitter followers a question, like what Twitter tool do they use on the iPhone, but wanted to aggregate all their answers into a single post? I did too. Here’s my first test. Literally four minutes ago I asked that question of my followers and here’s all the replies that came in in the first few minutes:

KMuncie: TwiterFon is the best!

about 33 minutes ago

weekofstyle: twitterfon hands down….

about 33 minutes ago

KrnSidez: tweetie.

about 33 minutes ago

GraftFinder: twitterfon

about 32 minutes ago

pinwinomuerto: Tweetie.

about 32 minutes ago

jamesfrye82: My favorite twitter iPhone app is tweetie.

about 32 minutes ago

gordonkennedy: Tweetie

about 32 minutes ago

jongot: Test of new Twitter tool coming soon: which Twitter iPhone app do you like best? (Tweetdeck & Tweetie).

about 32 minutes ago

mal: twitterrific

about 32 minutes ago

terrysimpson: thiS one is ok

about 32 minutes ago

Avibm: twitterrific

about 31 minutes ago

emonome: Tweetie.

about 31 minutes ago

TTIK: wats an iphone lol, only joking, don&#39t have an iphone, sadly i&#39m stationary, @ home

about 31 minutes ago

terrysimpson: this also is good

about 31 minutes ago

joekirk: Tweetie.

about 31 minutes ago

gregisenberg: Definitely TwitterFon, its the closest app to TweetDeck!

about 31 minutes ago

doverbey: Tweetie rocks! What&#39s your answer Robert?

about 31 minutes ago

yoshxl: tweetie.

about 31 minutes ago

luke_irvin: Tweetie

about 31 minutes ago

kbodnar32: tweetie

about 31 minutes ago

chrispirillo: – I&#39ve started to use #Twitterfon over Hahlo. It&#39s not bad (not perfect, but has promise). @frojive recommended it.

about 30 minutes ago

alexsetter: Tweetie

about 30 minutes ago

Attitude: Tweetie is my favorite iPhone Twitter app.

about 30 minutes ago

megbear: liking tweetie (on your suggestion)

about 30 minutes ago

CoreJay: Test of new Twitter tool coming soon: which Twitter iPhone app do you like best? (via @Scobleizer) [I use Tweetie the most. -C]

about 30 minutes ago

chimoose: tweetie. But I love that Twitterific “starts at the bottom”

about 30 minutes ago

tiphereth: Tweetie all the way 🙂

about 30 minutes ago

typezero3: twittlelator pro?

about 29 minutes ago

jivebotic: TwitterFon (free)

about 29 minutes ago

susielin: TwitterFon

about 29 minutes ago

cyndibrigham: I&#39m using Twitterific, so far so good. Is there something new coming out?!!

about 29 minutes ago

tackyspoons: Tweetie!

about 29 minutes ago

photar: twitterfon is best for actual tweeting. @tweetie is otherwise the best.

about 28 minutes ago

aaronishere: TwitterFon. The app does what it needs to do… and for free.

about 28 minutes ago

SameerPatel: i think Twitterfon is the best free one. has RT, DM, and good nav options. i switched from twitterific

about 28 minutes ago

peterschloss: Twitterfon when I have not been on twitter for several hours as it updates 200 msgs. Tweetie when I have been using it

about 28 minutes ago

ShanL: free would be twitterfon but paying I heard tweetie is good.

about 28 minutes ago

JRegner: RT: Test of new Twitter tool coming soon: which Twitter iPhone app do you like best? (Tweetie).

about 28 minutes ago

cmdrcool: twitterfon rulez!!!! 1000x better than tweeti or anything else.

about 27 minutes ago

edcallahan: I vote for Tweetie as the best Twitted iPhone app

about 27 minutes ago

sellinggiants: I&#39d tell if I had an Iphone. Damn, I want one!

about 27 minutes ago

MikeLizun: played with #twitterfon and #tweetie a lot last few days. Both good for monitoring and tweeting. #tweetie has neat features

about 27 minutes ago

mopcodes: Tweetie (go read

about 27 minutes ago

Paisano: I love twitterfon on the iPhone. It does it all. All main bu

ttons on main screen. Twitpic too.

about 26 minutes ago

jacktiddy: : I like twitterrific

about 26 minutes ago

phil404: Tried them all and chose Tweetie.

about 26 minutes ago

samhouston: tweetie 🙂

about 26 minutes ago

clcradio: which Twitter iPhone app do you like best? (any app that also works in any other phone).

about 23 minutes ago

mikefoong: TwitterFon

about 22 minutes ago

RayLevesque: twitterfon

about 21 minutes ago

drewmatich: Tweetie…by a mile

about 19 minutes ago

1000__Monkeys: Twitterific

about 19 minutes ago

sophiasian: twitterfon

about 19 minutes ago

marcumeno: Tweetie

about 17 minutes ago

thecoleorton: twinkle

about 16 minutes ago

sucklevine: twitterfon FTW!

about 16 minutes ago

iTeedee: Twitterfon

about 16 minutes ago

lsherman: tweetie

about 14 minutes ago

bobpatin: tweetie

about 13 minutes ago

tjohansen: Tweetie

about 13 minutes ago

adryenn: So what&#39s the app?

about 10 minutes ago

imaginarydana: twitterfon!

about 8 minutes ago

wjaegel: TwitterFon – just love it 🙂

about 4 minutes ago

IanDrummond: TwitterFon

-9 seconds ago

Recommendations for the Twitter crowd: GoodRec

Quick, you’re at an awesome restaurant, want to tell everyone about it, but only have a mobile phone and don’t want to bang out a long review. How do you a quick review? GoodRec has the answer. They designed its service for the people who are used to telling the world everything in 140 characters on Twitter.

Here Goodrec’s CEO, Mihir Shah, gives me a demo of its just-released iPhone app and demonstrates why his recommendation service is better for lots of things than competitors like Yelp or Amazon’s reviews.

Google Making Powerful Moves

Google has been doing a lot of stuff for us lately. Last week Google shipped “Latitude” which lets you track your friends and lets them track you (at least if you have a phone that works with the service — my Nokia N95 worked, but my iPhone is not yet supported). I used it with Microsoft’s Jeff Sandquist last Thursday as I was meeting him for breakfast and he said he could see my icon moving closer to him and knew exactly when I would walk through the door for breakfast. I find that kind of technology pretty fun and useful. I know lots of other people are thinking “privacy problem” too, but Google lets you decide who gets to stalk you. In fact they designed it so that it would only work with your closest friends. I, of course, opened it up to the world, and quickly added more than 200 people. That promptly caused it to crash on starting up, which made it totally useless for me. The team wrote me and said they’ll fix that bug in next release.

Then, also last week those smart people at Google released eBooks onto iPhone. More than a million public domain books are now readable on your iPhone. That’s pretty cool, although I still can’t see reading long books on my iPhone. That’s why I ordered the Amazon Kindle 2.0. It’ll be interesting to compare the two, that’s for sure.

Yesterday Google announced that it is bringing power to the people and is making a bunch of services to track and manage electricity usage, both in your home and your business. That’s an effort that’s a little further out than the other stuff I’m talking about here, but will probably have a huge impact on our power bills as we get devices (and solar panels) that can use energy at more efficient and cost-effective times.

But the one thing that hasn’t gotten a whole lot of hype yet is already the most useful for me. Google now is syncing my calendar and my contacts onto my iPhone thanks to Google Sync. It would also work with Windows Mobile and a few other phones.

I loaded this up last night and it’s magical. No longer do I have to hook up my iPhone to sync up my calendars. I set it up, which was just a touch geeky, required going into my iPhone’s email settings and following some directions. It’s a bit scary, because they say your contacts will go away. They do, so make sure you have them backed up. But I trusted in the Google and within a few seconds I had all my contacts from Gmail and all my calendars from Google Calendar all synced up. I already had other ways of syncing up my Outlook with Gmail and Google Calendar. So, now my life is all synced up and I’m happy. You can see how it is going for other users over on friendfeed in this discussion about Google’s new sync.

Thank you Google for all the fun stuff. What are you going to release in the next week? 🙂

Who has the coolest iPhone photo sharing app?

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One reason why I leave my cell phone and email on my blog (they are +1-425-205-1921 and and hold meetups that are open to everyone is so I can meet cool people I would never have gotten to know otherwise. Tonight I met a DJ, Richard Savill, who works out of London, England. Not a geek, particularly. Not someone who shows up on Twitter or FriendFeed. But he wanted to see what a Photowalk was like, so I said “let’s go out and shoot London.”

He ended up giving me a great demo of a very cool iPhone app called Snap My Life.

It is nicer to use than Flickr on the iPhone. But what caught my ear? His excitement in talking about what it’s done for him. He also tells you how he found the app, which is always interesting for other startups who are trying to get adoption.

Startups: do you have customers like this who are rabid advocates of your service? Why haven’t you done a video of them like the one I did with Richard? Or, better yet, I’d love to hear from them.

I made this video as we were walking down Edgware Road in London. Later he showed me the app and showed me that his pictures automatically were tagged with location so his followers can see where we were taking pictures. Pretty cool and nice, simple, interface.

Have you seen a better iPhone app for photo sharing?

You can see Richard’s photos on his Snap My Life site.

I wonder what Ben McConnell or Jackie Huba would think of Richard? They wrote a book titled “Creating Customer Evangelists” and that’s exactly what Snap My Life did here. Congrats to them!

Nokia's touchiest week

We’ve arrived in Barcelona, Spain for Nokia World, a week where Nokia talks to its top customers.

When we got here a Nokia executive met me and bragged that the Internet has no clue what they will announce this week. I asked “what about the touch screen cell phone that I’ve seen rumors about?” He said that no one had gotten it right yet. The announcements are on Wednesday morning (it’s early Monday morning as I post this) so we’ll have to wait to see what they announce. He told me this is one of the only times he can remember when a big announcement has not leaked. He said that even internally only a handful of people have seen the new device they’ll be announcing on Wednesday. Does that tactic sound familiar? It should, and is only one of the reasons why this is Nokia’s touchiest week.

This is the week when Nokia either keeps its seat at the cell-phone-thought-leadership table or it will give up its spot to Apple and RIM alone.

Here’s some datapoints.

1. At the recent conference CEO Marc Benioff asked the audience what cell phone they used. 35% answered iPhones. That’s incredible. Apple has gotten HUGE market share among enterprise users, despite having a huge wall setup against them.
2. RIM was used by almost everyone else at Salesforce. Nokia? Hah.
3. When I traveled to China the thought leaders there bragged about their iPhones. Same in Tel Aviv, Israel. These are places that are HUGE Nokia strongholds and that have almost no Apple stores.
4. Apple is just about to pass 10,000 apps for the iPhone, says Webware. Developers are picking iPhone big time. Why is that? Because Apple has thought leadership that Nokia has squandered.

Translation: this is the week that Nokia either shines or moves to the B list of the cell phone market. Yeah, you won’t know how this week turned out for a year or two, but there is no bigger week for Nokia.

Now, can you count Nokia out yet? No way. It has the biggest slice of the cell phone marketshare pie. Its devices are much better engineered than Apple’s are (GPS on Nokia is better, so are the antennas, the cameras, and bluetooth radios that Nokia uses). But engineering does NOT equal a great experience. Yeah, my Nokia does not drop phone calls in places in Silicon Valley that my iPhone does, but generally I reach for the iPhone when I want to make a call or surf the web. Why?

Nokia is behind in experience. The executives here from Nokia that I’ve talked to know that. They know this is Nokia’s touchiest week and one where they either deliver a much better device or they are going to face a very tough 2009 globally.

Oh, and how do you figure out what kinds of new features are coming soon? You visit the suppliers of Nokia like I did last week. I went to Broadcom where I met with (and videoed) the team that does the GPS chip inside your cell phones.

What did they tell me? Well, first, look at how much smaller that Broadcom chip is compared to the prototype that team built back in 2000. Can they make it even smaller? The team says “yes.” How? They are now combining chips. In your cell phone today is three chips. One for GPS. One for Wifi. One for Bluetooth.

Broadcom now makes one chip with all three features. That means longer battery life, lower cost, smaller form factor so you can have sexier phones that are thinner and smaller. By the way, the videos I shot with Broadcom explain how GPS works and how they are making it better so it works even inside buildings. Think that one small group of people can’t change the world? These engineers did. They are now working on new chips that also include MEMS (micromachines on silicon) that will include things like accelerometers (like the iPhone has). As I was leaving, the Broadcom PR people said they were “just about” to announce new chips. Is Broadcom waiting for Nokia to announce its new device? I hope so.

So, what do you think Nokia is going to release on Wednesday? Will it take “touch” and “experience” leadership back from Research in Motion and Apple?

More from Nokia World all week.

UPDATE: more discussion of this over on FriendFeed.