It’s Palm Pre Day!

Palm Pre

No I don’t have one, but the Palm Pre has launched.  @tnkGrl and Matthew Bennet covered the line and launch at San Francisco’s Castro St. Sprint store this morning. Catch their videos of the line on Oik. Close to 100 people lined up for the 20 Pres that were available at that store. They invited me to join them at 6AM but I’m way  too lazy for that and as I don’t plan on buying a Pre it just seemed like too much trouble.

Don’t get me wrong the Pre is a very interesting handset. It marks the start of what Matt dubbed the June Tsunami, this month’s launches of the Pre, iPhone III, US version of the HTC Dream and the Nokia N97.  I  have high hopes for the Pre and  WebOS as a platform. I’m eager to see if Palm has come to close to or exceeded the iPhone’s out of the box simplicity, Web browsing capability and  ease of text entry.  The problem is that I have an aversion to contracts and post paid plans.  All my phones are on prepaid, which does limit my choices a bit.  Its either a GSM phone on T-Mobile or AT&T for voice and WiFi for data with a  little light use of AT&T’s pricey  ($20 for 100MB) prepaid data or else Sprint’s  Boost Mobile with its glacial data rate and lousy iDen handset selection.  So until there’s a GSM Pre or Sprint starts allowing Boost Pay as You Go customers on their CDMA network it’s no Pre for me.  I do hope to get a little hands on time with both the Pre and the N97 tomorrow.

I really want at least one of the Tsunami phones  that’s not an iPhone to offer some real competition for Apple’s masterpiece.  The iPhone is a great device.  It has completely shaken up the mobile industry with an out of the box experience that’s so simple and intuitive that it has Joe Six Pack browsing the web and installing applications on his phone.  It’s the first advanced device that’s been adopted by U.S. “normobs“.  It’s what I recommend to my non-technical friends. But the iPhone’s not for me.  I love its UI and industrial design but hate the level of control Apple exerts over the platform. The iPhone ecosystem is the walled garden perfected. I want a phone I hack a bit, install any software I want on without the manufacturer’s or operator’s approval or unobtainable certificates, tether my Zaurus to and even re-flash the firmware if I feel like without the threat of legal action and having to constantly play a cat and mouse game with the all-controlling Apple.  Will the Pre be that phone? Probably not but I hope it at least takes a step closer.