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Palm Addresses Pre Design Challenges on Facebook

Palm Pre DesignPalm 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.

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Folks on TreoCentral don't believe the microSD story

SeldomVisitor @ 1/23/2009 11:18:07 AM # Q
RE: Folks on TreoCentral don't believe the microSD story
mikecane @ 1/23/2009 12:05:33 PM # Q
It's all about hiding the filesystem, I'm sure. For now at least.

Watch Palm come up with a Card View for files at some point. Then we'll have a slot. No, don't ask ME how that'd work. I don't code.

RE: Folks on TreoCentral don't believe the microSD story
hkklife @ 1/23/2009 12:17:18 PM # Q
Bah, it's ENTIRELY $$$$$$$$$ related

-Palm didn't want to spend R&D $ to put a microSD slot in the Pre

-Sprint wants their users to burden their network by wirelessly sending 8gb of data to & from the cloud so they clobber them with excessive bandwidth surcharges AND/OR Sprint will come up with a higher-priced "really unlimited unlimited" plan for the Pre

-Palm & Sprint both want users to sign a 2yr contract to get the 8gb Pre, max out its 8 gigs immediately, then pay full retail price ($550ish) for the 16GB Pre that will be out within 6 months' time.

Forget Multitouch gesture patent infringement, Apple should sue Palm for stealing their entire business model!

Also, keep this in mind: A Pre with a microSD slot could theoretically be used for all kinds of hackery and off-cloud functionality. Palm & Sprint WANT a great deal of this thing's functionality to depend on always having a wireless signal.

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->?

RE: Folks on TreoCentral don't believe the microSD story
mikecane @ 1/23/2009 12:34:22 PM # Q
>>>-Palm didn't want to spend R&D $ to put a microSD slot in the Pre

Well that one is simply nuts.

The rest is arguable, blah blah blah.

None of us know if a portion of storage can be set aside as a Hard Reset-proof area to backup critical data. And no, MEDIA - videos, MP3s - ain't critical. (Yeah, filmmakers and musicians want to rip out my throat right now. Hey, it's a tough life!)

RE: Folks on TreoCentral don't believe the microSD story
SeldomVisitor @ 1/23/2009 12:44:02 PM # Q
> ...Sprint will come up with a higher-priced "really unlimited
> unlimited" plan for the Pre...

The guy from Sprint at CSE couldn't stop talking about ARPU.

He wasn't talking about ARPU for no reason...

RE: Folks on TreoCentral don't believe the microSD story
hkklife @ 1/23/2009 12:59:20 PM # Q
Hmmmm, since when did Mike Cane turn into a Palm semi-apologist!?!?! Maybe he and Kirvin should start a co-op blog: "Reading and Writing on your Palm Pre" ;-)

But seriously, media isn't critical? Isn't text/print/e-books considered a form of media? Aren't/weren't you a writer? Just think of how many e-books you could carry around one one wee microSDXC card!

In these user churning, cash-starved times, media IS critical to the carriers & the hardware companies & their content partners. If I was serving up an app & a music store, I'd want my customers to gorge themselves. It's like operating a gigantic grocery store with a 1 bag per customer limit. You can buy whatever you'd like but it all has to fit in one bag.

Palm and Apple are the only companies that can take steps backwards on their hardware specs and their users still gush and fall over themselves to praise those companies for their engineering prowess.

(2007's iPod Classic had a 160gb HD but 2008's Classic dropped to 120gb. You can shove a 16gb right NOW into a Centro or a Treo Pro and 32mb microSDHC cards are right around the corner. Heck, with Dmitry's PowerSDHC driver, you toss a 32gb SDHC card into the 4.5year old Treo 650!)

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->?

RE: Folks on TreoCentral don't believe the microSD story
freakout @ 1/23/2009 1:06:34 PM # Q
And no, MEDIA - videos, MP3s - ain't critical.

(coughs, splutters) Objection! Your Honour, objection! The digital download generation strongly objects to these defamatory claims! As their self-appointed representative I must demand you instruct the jury to dismiss these seditious comments!

RE: Folks on TreoCentral don't believe the microSD story
mikecane @ 1/23/2009 1:12:33 PM # Q
>>>Hmmmm, since when did Mike Cane turn into a Palm semi-apologist!?!?!

What, you're actually COMPLAINING about this, after YEARS of me wanting to strangle Palm?!

Look, if I'm reading an eBook on the Pre and I have to hard reset it, odds are I can get the eBook back via the Bookshelf In The Sky. eBooks are wee creatures. So are most MP3s. You video junkies have to go through some withdrawal. Eh. Go read an eBook!

RE: Folks on TreoCentral don't believe the microSD story
abosco @ 1/23/2009 5:49:48 PM # Q
2007's iPod Classic had a 160gb HD but 2008's Classic dropped to 120gb.

They had way more sales of the 80 GB Classic than the 160 GB version. So they axed the larger model that nobody wanted and offered a new 120 GB Classic at the same price as the old 80 GB one.

Besides, who is buying an iPod Classic anymore? It's all Touch & Nano.

-Bosco
m105 -> NX70v -> NX80v -> iPhone -> iPhone 3G

RE: Folks on TreoCentral don't believe the microSD story
alandrew @ 1/25/2009 10:35:25 PM # Q
SD is phasing out ! Its all about the cloud ! Its always been on the cards....Palm has just made the most modern device on the market and people are still moaning !
Lets just enjoy whats comming !

Treo600>>Treo680>>Centro>>Pre
Reply to this comment

maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?

tompi @ 1/23/2009 10:04:37 PM # Q
"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."

Maybe they just copied the solutions from the phone that pioneered this and was itself very successful: the Danger Hiptop? It came out in January 2002.

How does it work on the Hiptop?

Your data is constantly stored in the cloud. If you need to do a hard reset in an area of poor coverage, you won't get your data back until you're in-coverage again, but as soon as you re-enter coverage, your data reappears. However, I have owned three different Hiptop models and used them for several years and never experienced any data loss, even temporary. Almost everything that can work off-line actually does work off-line, including lookups, entering data, etc. For the Hiptop, cloud storage is free and comes with the service and flat rate. The personal data stored in the cloud is not used for any other services with the Hiptop and the service was closed. The Hiptop is programmable, but has no local storage and doesn't allow desktop synchronization.

Android has been developed by the same people as the Hiptop, and is kind of the next generation Hiptop device. What's the situation for Android?

Your data is constantly synced the cloud, but it is also stored locally. Desktop sync and backup to SD card are both possible and third parties can (and likely will) provide apps to do that. However, I have yet to see data loss or hard resets on my Android phone. In addition, since Android syncs with Google services and Google services are open, your data will be synced with any other devices you may also have (laptop, iPod, etc.). Data stored on Google services is used according to Google's personal data policies (see their web site). The cloud services backing the standard Android functions are free (Google apps, Facebook, etc.).

The biggest difference between the Hiptop and Android is that the Hiptop was application-oriented, while Android's is based on intents and activities (sound familiar?).

I doubt the Pre will have much different solutions from Hiptop and Android; both work very well, more reliable than any Palm or any other smartphone I have ever had. Both Apple and Palm are several years late when it comes to cloud-based mobile computing.

RE: maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?
mikecane @ 1/24/2009 12:23:59 PM # Q
Microsoft bought Danger, btw.

RE: maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?
tompi @ 1/26/2009 9:39:03 AM # Q
Microsoft bought what was left of Danger. Many of the people responsible for the original design left Danger and went to Google... to develop Android.

RE: maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?
mikecane @ 1/26/2009 10:43:55 AM # Q
So did many from PalmSource. Hmmm ... so maybe this mixing of cultures accounts for the inconsistency of the Android UI.

RE: maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?
tompi @ 1/28/2009 4:28:41 PM # Q
So did many from PalmSource. Hmmm ... so maybe this mixing of cultures accounts for the inconsistency of the Android UI.

The Android design is almost pure Danger, with no PalmSource influence that I can see.

As for "inconsistency", UI design analysis from non-experts is about as valuable as medical or legal advice from a barista.

RE: maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?
mikecane @ 1/28/2009 5:37:34 PM # Q
>>>As for "inconsistency", UI design analysis from non-experts is about as valuable as medical or legal advice from a barista.

Um, no. What do you think the U in UI stands for?

Next!

RE: maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?
tompi @ 1/29/2009 5:02:41 AM # Q
Um, no. What do you think the U in UI stands for? Next!

UI design indeed involves a lot of user testing and user input; that's different from people like you making a one-line assertion on a discussion board, or an Apple fanboy at Gizmodo whining about how he doesn't like the Android fonts.

If you have specific criticism of the Android UI, please substantiate it and submit a bug report.

If you don't have specific criticism, you're just a bloviating fanboy with an ax to grind.

RE: maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?
mikecane @ 1/29/2009 5:50:09 AM # Q
Hey, you. What I said was what I read in reviews. Why don't you go read them instead? You might learn something, smug-ass. Meanwhile, thanks for dropping Android further off my scope.

RE: maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?
tompi @ 1/29/2009 9:26:47 AM # Q
Hey, you. What I said was what I read in reviews. Why don't you go read them instead?

As a matter of fact, I have read most of the Android reviews. A few of them mention what the reviewers consider "inconsistencies", but none of them actually seem to amount to real usability problems. I've done a little user testing of Android and people seem to find it very easy to use. I would love to do user testing of Pre as well, but it's still vapor ware.

Meanwhile, thanks for dropping Android further off my scope.

Geez, you state that Android is inconsistent as if it were a fact. Then it turns out that you actually just read it somewhere, but you still don't say where. From your comments, it's obvious that it was off your scope from the start, and you were just trying to badmouth it based on whatever rumor and innuendo you could drag up. The Palm community is really hitting new lows.

I'll reserve my judgment on the quality of the Pre UI and user experience until I have actually had a chance to put it through its paces.

But what we can say already is that Palm's claims for where they innovated-syncing to the cloud, task-focused interface, programming based on web technologies-are false: other companies have been shipping phones with those features for a while already.

RE: maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?
mikecane @ 1/29/2009 12:14:59 PM # Q
>>>From your comments, it's obvious that it was off your scope from the start,

Um yeah, right.
http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/03/24/googles-android-os-now-worth-watching/

And how's that whole you can only play videos if the *browser* asks for it thing going, eh?

As I said earlier: NEXT!

RE: maybe they just did what the Hiptop did?
tompi @ 1/31/2009 3:01:19 AM # Q
Thanks for giving us that link: in it, you reveal even more that you are following a personality and brand cult and pass judgment on technologies without technical insight or understanding.

Reply to this comment

Where's the beef?

SeldomVisitor @ 2/14/2009 6:11:03 AM # Q
I'm still trying to find it. I =want= to believe. I'm not succeeding.

- http://tinyurl.com/whereisthebeef

Nice user interface. Gush.

Anything else?

RE: Where's the beef?
SeldomVisitor @ 2/16/2009 10:09:50 AM # Q
Indeed - WebOS "applications" are indeed "nothing more than" entities like tabs in a browser:

- http://messages.finance.yahoo.com/Stocks_(A_to_Z)/Stocks_P/threadview?m=tm&bn=13738&tof=4&rt=1&frt=2&dir=f&ri=322806&t=c

RE: Where's the beef?
SeldomVisitor @ 2/16/2009 10:16:11 AM # Q
Apologies - PIC can't handle Yahoo links. Here's the Tinyurled version:

http://tinyurl.com/whereisthebeef2

RE: Where's the beef?
Gekko @ 2/16/2009 11:23:26 AM # Q

please stay away from the yahoo chat rooms. they'll make you poor and stupid.

RE: Where's the beef?
SeldomVisitor @ 2/16/2009 12:14:49 PM # Q
> ...WebOS "applications" are indeed "nothing more than" entities like tabs in a browser

While that statement is fact, the Webkit "tab" can run (not necessarily will) under a process rather than as a thread, so the references here or elsewhere to "Firefox-style" tabs is incorrect.

My bad.

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