Palm’s Would-Be iPhone Killer

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People are sounding pretty blown away by this Palm Pre thing that’s on display at CES. You know, the iPhone-like smartphone from Palm:

Now that I’m over my initial surprise that Palm actually still exists and is in business, the Pre certainly appears to be the most credible response to the iPhone we’ve seen so far. Hardware quality looks high, screen’s very bright, and along with everything else you can cut and paste and send MMS messages. And anecdotally speaking at least, the market opportunity for a device that combines iPhone-like functionality and UI with a chicklet keyboard is pretty high. (Or it should be. I don’t know why that Android phone isn’t moving more units.) No word on pricing yet though.

What really surprises me is that they can ship a product like this at all. One of the main driving forces behind the Pre is Jon Rubinstein, who last time I was in the same room with him was one of the senior iPoderati at Apple, before he decamped for Palm. Guess he got out without any non-compete clauses. Meanwhile Apple laid down a legal firewall of around 200 patents around the iPhone. Can Palm really move a product this similar without a challenge from Jobs? With multi-touch and all that? I thought technology like that was protected.

Maybe they shoulda called that thing the Post [insert rimshot.wav here].

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