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Monday, 09 March 2009 13:18

iPhone heading for fall in summer says Palm honcho

By
Talk about a possible Apple lawsuit against Palm over the multi-touch functionality of its impressive new Pre smartphone makes one wonder if Cupertino is slightly nervous. Super aggressive anti-iPhone rhetoric from key Palm investor Roger McNamee may make Apple wish that spiritual leader Steve Jobs returns soon.

The enigmatic McNamee, simply can't restrain himself from predicting the demise of the iPhone at the hands of the Palm Pre come June 29, 2007. That's the date when the first of the two-year AT&T iPhone contracts expire.

According McNamee, once iPhone users are free of their restrictive contracts, they'll drop their iPhones like hot bricks and go racing out to stores to replace them with a Palm Pre. Wishful thinking? Almost certainly.

However, there is no denying that the Pre is a compelling device, so much so that it has Apple worried.

Quite simply, from all reports and visual demonstrations of the Pre, it not only matches the current iPhone for functionality but it actually surpasses it in quite a few areas.

The Pre may even be able to match the iPhone for its coolness factor - after all U2 frontman and all-round humanitarian and good-guy Bono is an investor. More importantly, so is former Apple hardware head Jon Rubinstein.

With a 3.1 inch screen, the Pre has a lot of the same features as the iPhone, including multi-touch screen functionality with the same pinching, squeezing, flicking and tapping movements - which some say could cause patent issues with Apple.

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Aside from that, the Pre also has the accelerometer sensing that switches the screen view between landscape and portait.

The Linux based operating system  is multi-tasking, allowing users to keep multiple applications open on the phone's desktop at once - unlike the iPhone.

According to many visual reviews I've seen, the Pre web browser, built on the open source WebKit browser, is excellent and very responsive.

As one review put it, the Pre doesn't have iTunes but it has a pretty dmaned good substitute in the Amazon MP3 music store, which enables downloads over WiFi.

Add in direct Google, Google Maps and Wikipedia searches without having to enter the web browser, a 3 megapixel camera and a slide out QWERTY keyboard and you have a pretty compelling competitor to the iPhone.

There are a couple of pretty big provisos to the above, however.

The first thing is that having vast gobs of functionality is one thing but providing a compelling user experience is quite another. We know the iPhone user experience is first rate but without rigorous testing it's hard to give the Pre a usability rating.

The other big proviso is dependent on Apple. The question is whether Apple will simply stand still with the current generation iPhone or come June 29 wow the world with yet another iteration of its very fine product.

McNamee is obviously prepared to bet hunndreds of millions that the Pre will put the iPhone off the air and Apple back in its basket.

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Stan Beer

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Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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