- Palm Announces Palm WebOS At CES, Also Palm Pre

James Quintana Pearce
Thursday, January 8, 2009; 5:59 PM

As was generally expected, Palm (NSDQ: PALM) has used its keynote at CES to announce a new mobile operating system, widely viewed as its last chance to compete effectively against other smartphone vendors or disappear into history?Palm seems to recognize and agree with that. I'm sure news will continue to dribble out over days, weeks and months, but from the keynote this is what we have:

The Palm WebOS "was built with developers in mind", meaning it uses standard web tools such as HTML and Javascript: "No new languages to learn, period" notes CNet. That's a great idea?if you're going to introduce another mobile OS it's best that the developers regard it as low-hanging fruit. As for the first device running the OS, Palm knows it has to be a killer. The Palm Pre was apparently inspired by nature but "looks a bit like a shorter, rounder iPhone", has EvDO rev a, Bluetooth stereo, 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi and GPS. It includes Ti's latest OMAP 3430 processor, 8GB storage, 3.1 inch display with 320x480 resolution, 3.0MP camera, accelerometer, ambient light sensor and a touchscreen that goes all the way to the center button so you can make gestures below the screen. It also has a fold-out curved keyboard: "It's great to use touchscreen devices? but sometimes you want to jam out e-mail or an instant message, and one of those cheesy virtual keyboards just won't cut it," CNet reports them saying at the keynote. The phone is CDMA and can be pre-ordered on Sprint's site, and will be available in the first half of 2009 (it hasn't gone through certification yet).

More after the jump

The Palm Blog notes that the idea is to take all your information from the phone, PC and "cloud" and have it on one device. Palm has also tried to steer away from the desktop metaphor: "We use a deck of cards that you can move through with one hand as our basic metaphor. Every app is a card, and you can shuffle through these cards with gestures. And to make sure you don't lose any data, everything is automatically saved all the time?you want find a save button anywhere in this interface."

CNet is doing a pretty good job of covering this (Tricia is at the OMVC talk), and Palm seems to have taken its "synergy" idea seriously. It combines multiple types of contacts (eg, Outlook, Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Facebook) into one list without duplicates, the same with Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar,and the same with e-mail; all the accounts can be viewed together or separately, and perhaps most impressively it links communication to the person rather than to the medium. That means that if you're in an instant-messaging conversation with someone and that person goes offline, it switches to SMS.

Palm's press release is here.


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