I get to work with smartphones all the time, and I enjoy watching the markets are develop. RIM's got its devotees, as does Android but only Apple and Palm (webOS devices) have really developed and honed the seamless user experience. Reviewers and folks who have worked with WebOS itself really like it, and Palm has figured out the right way to deal with developers. But the Pre & Pixi haven't taken off (maybe because their screens are too small?).
There is an interesting twist here, though. Google is (finally) successfully positioning Android devices as a (the?) challenger to the iPhone. But Google faces a couple of serious issues. One is the forking going one with the open source Android OS. That will be hard to deal with, but it's a technical problem. Google's got boatloads of folks good at fixing technical problems.
The bigger problem for Google is likely to be Apple and it's patents. Apple is now going after HTC, and that's just the beginning. Between the forking and the patent issues, Android has some serious (perhaps debilitating) issues with which to deal.
Why would Palm be immune from this kind of tactic? Although WebOS is linux-based, Palm controls it (ala Apple's iPhone OS), so forking isn't an issue. At one point Apple threatened Palm with patent lawsuits, but Palm has a bunch of patents itself, and apparently when it's lawyers explained that to Apple, Apple cut anchor and has decided to leave Palm alone.
Palm has a 'mystery' device to announced soon, and it may well have a window of opportunity. If the mystery device can compete with the iPhone 4 and get on enough carriers, Palm might not actually die this year. That's a lot of IFs, though.
That's why it's fun to watch.
Craig Wiseman March 2nd, 2010 02:22:54 PM