Palm Addresses Pre Design Challenges on Facebook
Palm has posted an ongoing, week-long Q&A session with Product Manager Matt Crowley. Instead of appearing within the Palm blog itself, Palm has taken the rather unusual approach of using a Facebook chat to give their users a chance to interact with, moderated by Palm Director of Online Communications and PR Services Jon Zilber.
In the course of the session thus far, Mr. Crowley has helpfully tackled a few (obviously screened) hard questions about the design decisions faced by Palm's team during the Pre's development process. Unfortunately unaddressed are some superb user questions regarding critical topics relating to the Pre's lack of desktop synchronization, how to handle hard resets in areas with no wireless data coverge, if Palm will provide any "free" cloud storage/backup service to Pre users, and how intrusive Synergy will be on users' personal data.
The most interest and relevant aspects of the Facebook chat to long-time Palm OS users will certainly center on the additional thoughts from Palm staffers as they discuss in relative detail the device's omission of a microSD slot as well as its lack of an infrared port.
On the microSD slot loss (a deal-breaker for me personally), Matt Crowley states:
‘Design' was the highest goal on the Palm Pre project. The phone has to look and function great in the hand and up against the face on a call. The decision to include or not include expandable storage is an easy one when design is the highest priority. The physical size of the device would have been compromised if we added another physical component to Pre. Just a millimeter can seriously impact the curvature of the design in a way that minimizes the design intent. We wanted to maintain a slick curved slider design without building out too much thickness. When you look at the two parts of the product and see how thin they really are, you may be amazed that we were able to fit everything in. And yes, all the stuff does fit.
The other advantage of embedded memory is that you have a large amount of storage out of the box for media and files. Including 8GBs of storage on the phone is a large amount of storage for many people, but not all. Yes, not all. We know that not everyone will be happy, but that is one of many decisions that needs to be made and the product goals
Infrared beaming has been a standard feature on every Palm device released since the Palm III in 1998 (and an optional addition to the older Pilot and PalmPilot handhelds). In regards to its loss Matt Crowley states:
IRDA was one of those legacy HW items which was actually not a simple decision to pull. We had a lot of debate on this one as well, but the overall IR usage was diminishing and the cost was not justified.
I still think there is a need for simple pairing and content sharing in a personal space. I also believe there are some really cool ways to handle similar behaviors without the use of IR. Sony did a great job with their PSP on application demo handling via WiFi. For example, some games you can send a demo version of the game via WiFi to your friend's PSP directly. To be honest, I like the "Remote" application on iPhone. I don't use it a lot, but it is a cool demo and the implementation was done really well.
The Palm chat is an ongoing feature this entire week, as it runs from January 21st-28th. Additional details as well as a brief bio of Mr. Crowley are available on Palm's blog.