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Using a webOS Device Without Active Service

palm pre An interesting story has emerged from the PreCentral forums that could possibly be related to the recent story on Palm's apparent crackdown on unlocked GSM Pre sales.

Over the past few days, PreCentral member "dcorleto" has recounted the story of his previously-active Pre becoming a paperweight after ending his his Sprint service and moving to another carrier. Unlike most smartphones on the market, including all prior Palm devices and even the iPhone, it seems a previously-activated Sprint Palm Pre cannot be used as a standalone Wi-Fi based device or even as an offline PDA or media player once it ceases to function on the Sprint data network.

Locked Out?

In short, it has quickly become apparent that Palm's new crop of webOS-based devices are nearly fully dependent on the user maintaining an active data service with the phone's intended carrier or service provider. Some users are even speculating that the delays and lack of concrete info concerning the GSM Pre may be due to software customizations required by Palm in order accommodate various EU country laws and regulations regarding service and carrier locking.

Current Palm Pre users who pay an early termination fee to prematurely end their contract, purchase full price, unsubsidized or unlocked devices or have simply fulfilled the terms of their service contract still technically own their handsets and do not lease them from a provider. Under such circumstances, users fully expect to be able to resell or use these devices' native capabilities in a manner not requiring an active carrier data service.

In addition, the status of an inactive user's Palm Profile data in the cloud remains unknown, raising a number of potential privacy issues that Palm may have to eventually address alongside the earlier user monitoring issue covered last month.

Such situations are an ominous harbinger of the realities of cloud-based computing with highly-secured devices primarily designed as conduits to serve up data from WWAN networks alone. One would imagine that the upcoming Palm Pixi could potentially be an even more useless device in such a situation, given its lack of built-in wi-fi networking.

As of this writing, the original poster of the thread has managed to resurrect his Pre, but only after resorting to a rather unconventional and risky method. Dcorleto had to reflash a webOS image rom and perform some other special instructions just to be able to bring up his previously-stored Palm Profile data via Wi-Fi.

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is it all about revenue?

rpa @ 9/21/2009 10:09:00 AM # Q
If Palm and Sprint are splitting revenue, locking in a user permanently is an ideal situation for them. I'll stick with my unlocked GSM device, thank you very much.
RE: is it all about revenue?
cstamper @ 9/21/2009 12:06:12 PM # Q
so ur saying it's another apple+att situation?

Is it just me or was that whole article very unclear? Maybe too much coding for a day, but it reads like a pcworld article.

RE: is it all about revenue?
hkklife @ 9/21/2009 1:29:22 PM # Q
Cstamper;

What are you unclear about? Ryan and I actually worked on re-wording the article to make it easier to read. IMHO, this is actually worse than the Apple + AT&T situation. At least old iPhones STILL function without any active service to them!

Go peruse the TC thread if you'd like to get a firsthand view of the whole situation.

To reiterate in a nutshell:

1. User buys a new Pre w/ Sprint (or other) service.

2. Initial device setup requires setup & establishes Palm Profile.

3. User terminates Sprint contract early OR the 2 years are up.

4. User decides to move his number to another device or to another carrier but wants to keep Pre around for old PIM data or web browsing over wi-fi or as a media player.

5. The Pre no longer functions AT ALL (not in wi-fi mode, airplane mode or anything else) because it's not receiving an active data signal "to the cloud" from Sprint etc. User cannot even log into his previously-created cloud account via wi-fi.

Clear?
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: is it all about revenue?
CFreymarc @ 9/21/2009 1:59:16 PM # Q
This is the trend of "No pay, no play" models that many carriers are doing with phones that no longer carry service. Their BS line is that it is the same procedure they use when a phone is reported stolen to keep your data "safe."

Palm is taking a very dangerous path obligating the user to work with wireless service for any feature and not just ones that require network connectivity. Eventually, a consumer group is going to sue on this one claiming over-extension of service agreements.

RE: is it all about revenue?
LiveFaith @ 9/22/2009 6:53:32 AM # Q
Horrible Palm. Utterly horrible!

Just yesterday I spent another :20 or so with a Pre at the store trying to get a feel if the Contacts app would actually handle my daily business. Did not look good at all compared to my ancient Treo 680. The PIMs are mission critical and cannot be some crowbar functionality.

I like a lot about WebOS and some about the Pre. But, with the Palm's usage tracking, Sprint's "leased phone" reality, and toy-like PIM, it's looking more and more like the handwriting is on the wall for me. I held out a lot of hope for the "new Palm", but the reality for me may be Android, iPhone, or RIM?
Pat Horne

RE: is it all about revenue?
Tim Carroll @ 9/22/2009 6:59:50 AM # Q
^^ pat: what specifically was your beef with the Contacts? on the webOS emulator I've personally found it pretty much on par with FrankenGarnet. (Can't say the same for the Calendar, of course)
RE: is it all about revenue?
LiveFaith @ 9/22/2009 10:22:18 AM # Q
Tim,
It appeared that the number of fields was more slim than in Palm OS. I found no way toIlist contacts by "category". That is absolutely necessary for me. 3,500 contacts make for a lot of scrolling, especially when you can remember a persons last name etc. I have serious doubts about functional one handed use.
The whole process seemed very cumbersome within the app as well, but I'll chalk that up to my learning curve. Are you finding the Contacts app as functional as on Palm OS? One handed operation?

With no DtBk app allegedly coming, then I don't see much hope on the horizon. And if Calendar is worse, then it does not look good


Pat Horne

RE: is it all about revenue?
Tim Carroll @ 9/22/2009 1:53:54 PM # Q
Are you finding the Contacts app as functional as on Palm OS? One handed operation?

I am, but I never used categories - I've always just used find-as-you-type, so Universal Search is gonna be the shiznit for me. You might be screwed though :P

As for one handed operation, couldn't say. The emulator runs on my PC! So I suppose using the mouse qualifies as one-handed...

If you really want to give it pseudo test-drive Pat, without some sales droid looking over your shoulder, just download Virtualbox and the Mojo SDK. Easy install, and it comes with the full-fledged webOS emulator. You can try out all that tasty homebew goodness too. :) You can't use a Palm Profile but you can try out the interface, Google sync etc.

RE: is it all about revenue?
jca666us @ 9/23/2009 4:58:54 AM # Q
Hey Tim,

Read it and weep:

http://digitaldaily.allthingsd.com/20090922/usb-if-slaps-palm/

You should definitely post this news item!

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Recounted???

pabent @ 9/21/2009 11:45:17 AM # Q
maybe recanted...
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good article

pmjoe @ 9/21/2009 12:46:23 PM # Q
Stay on top of this kind of stuff. Palm needs to resolve issues like: what's in this for people (like me) who have no interest in "the cloud", what happens with these devices when the contract runs out, etc. before I'd ever consider buying a WebOS device.
RE: good article
hkklife @ 9/21/2009 1:24:50 PM # Q
It's hard to "stay on top" of these kinds of articles with the apologists launching flames at every turn but this stuff IS important to know. Thanks for the compliment.

That said, I have an absolutely useless Pre sitting on my desk right now that I recently purchased (very long story) that I cannot even use for WebOS evaluation purposes for PIC due to not having a Sprint contract or service without resorting to some major hackery.

As things stand right NOW, when your contract or time with Sprint runs out or you move service elsewhere, the Pre turns into a lovely little smooth brick (err, river rock). Yet I can dig out an ancient Garnet-based Treo and merrily use it as a PDA, media player or whatever else I desire without any service on it whatsoever.

Even deactivated iPhones work nicely without service (after the initial activation & setup, of course) and basically emulate an iPod Touch over wi-fi. Palm's setting a new standard here with this maneuver and I don't like it ONE bit!

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: good article
abosco @ 9/21/2009 2:06:39 PM # M Q
I guess this also means that there will be no Pre Touch coming anytime soon, either. How ironic that the company who essentially invented the PDA is doing everything in its power to kill it.
RE: good article
rpa @ 9/21/2009 4:29:01 PM # Q
Aside from the obvious commercial dilemma of "buying" a Pre that you can't use as you wish, Palm/Sprint would have access to anything you put in the cloud: contacts, calendars, memos, apps, etc etc and would know just about everything there is to know about you. Marketing types (and law enforcement) would love to tap into this data. This all sounds too 'big brother' for my liking.
RE: good article
twrock @ 9/21/2009 6:32:01 PM # Q
Way not cool! Hard to imagine this was "inadvertent". I've gotta think Sprint was grinning ear to ear when Palm agreed to this one. This kind of thing is an absolute show-stopper for me. There is no way I'd even consider buying a Palm device, no matter what the form factor, if this is what I'd have to put up with.
Weird though. There is a lot about webOS and developing for it that is "open", but then we keep seeing how a combination of the carrier and this whole "cloud" thing is being used as the lock-in. There ought to be a law......
RE: good article
abosco @ 9/21/2009 6:54:28 PM # M Q
Christ, people keep looking for government to solve their problems. Don't like Palm's corporate policy on data and their agreement with Sprint? Don't buy the device. They will either be forced to adapt or go out of business if enough people agree.

But for God's sake, don't increase the power of government to extend into the private sector too deeply. This is in no way anti-competitive.

RE: good article
twrock @ 9/21/2009 7:44:04 PM # Q
:-) It's just a saying. No, relax, I'm not saying I want the government to step in and make a bunch more rules. Notice that I have no intention of getting the device. That is my "solution" to this problem, not asking the government to make a law that Palm and Sprint can't do this.

Sorry to have caused a false alarm.

Hey Palm! Where's my PDA with Wifi and phone capabilities?

RE: good article
hkklife @ 9/21/2009 7:53:55 PM # Q
Hey Ron, if you happen to find one of these in some surplus shop somehwere in Taiwan, be a peach and pick one up for me, ok?
I figure it'll be cheap due to the "unluckly number 4" stigma...right?

:-)

http://www.palminfocenter.com/news/6937/rumor-tungsten-t4-speculation/


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: good article
twrock @ 9/21/2009 9:08:26 PM # Q
Hehehe: http://www.palminfocenter.com/comments/6937/#95667

No one forces anyone to read the news headlines & subsequent comment threads that are clearly marked "RUMOR: Tungsten T4 Speculation"

All I can say is I'm glad I didn't leave comment about that article you can link to. :-)

Yeah, I did see one of those T4's just the other day...... Yeah, ..... I'll get that right out to you. Yeah, ..... that's the ticket.

"Hey Palm! Where's my PDA with Wifi and phone capabilities?" Oops, I need to change that: "Hey Palm! Where's my smartphone that I can use as a PDA with Wifi?" What's that? No, I can't do that? I have to pay Sprint forever if I want to be able to use my hardware for anything truly functional? And the two of you own all my data? Ok, thanks for clarifying that.

Hey Palm! Where's my PDA with Wifi and phone capabilities?

RE: good article
pmjoe @ 9/22/2009 9:10:30 AM # Q
rpa wrote:
Aside from the obvious commercial dilemma of "buying" a Pre that you can't use as you wish, Palm/Sprint would have access to anything you put in the cloud: contacts, calendars, memos, apps, etc etc and would know just about everything there is to know about you. Marketing types (and law enforcement) would love to tap into this data. This all sounds too 'big brother' for my liking.

This seems like all the more reason for Palm to let you keep using the device after you no longer have Sprint service on it. I'm sure they get $$$ for your data.
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My comments

sadams @ 9/21/2009 1:48:38 PM # Q
Hi,
My question to Palm (and any network partners of theirs):

What is it about this arrangement (active service limitation) that I should find attractive as a consumer?
How does it benefit me?
Why would I knowingly agree to that arrangement?

I would ask it of Palm themselves (rather than here) - but I honestly can't be bothered as I have no expectation that they have the slightest interest in (consumers like) me (anymore).

Sigh...
Another point to the Android camp - assuming that even if carriers attempted to mandate such madness I could very likely find a hack around it from "the community".

Steve.

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Take issue with 'risky'

Tim Carroll @ 9/21/2009 2:35:03 PM # Q
As of this writing, the original poster of the thread has managed to resurrect his Pre, but only after resorting to a rather unconventional and risky method.

Risky? As any of the Webos Internals folks can tell you, it is almost impossible to "brick" a Pre, as has been the case with prior Palm devices. The webOS Doctor which has been such an invaluable hacking tool (and is freely distributed by Palm, by the by) will fix practically anything you might have broke while tinkering.

I agree that this a crap situation. But IMO the real enemy is exclusive carrier agreement - and they're hardly unique to Palm.

(fully prepared to eat my words when I find out for sure that I can't use a UK GSM Pre)

RE: Take issue with 'risky'
vetdoctor @ 9/21/2009 6:56:50 PM # M Q
Shudda guessed. The Pre is open enough that once off Sprint you could load a homebrew (or later real) Voip program and use it as a Voip phone at home. Sprint wants none of that and Palm doesn't care. Once its not a phone both comanies want you to buy a new one.

RE: Take issue with 'risky'
bhartman34 @ 9/21/2009 7:21:47 PM # Q
I don't know about "risky". It seems to me that there couldn't be much risk to the bypass method, since the fact that you're doing this probably means its not useful to you as-is, anyway. It does sound like more than you should have to go through simply because you end your contract, though.
RE: Take issue with 'risky'
hkklife @ 9/21/2009 7:47:50 PM # Q
When writing "official" news items & articles, as a matter of personal & PIC policy I usually try to only focus on official/legitimate/manufacturer-sanctioned methods. That's why I don't discuss things that occupy a nebulous areas such as emulators/ROMs, hacked firmware, activation bypassing etc.

Considering there are still plenty of "Please help, I want to plug my iPod into my Treo and copy over my iTunes library. Which cable do I buy" sort of requests, it's a good idea to always assume the worst as far as the general public's level of tech-savviness is concerned.

I would wonder that if you first put an activated Pre into "Airplane mode" and THEN terminated service if it would stay in that mode. But wouldn't that also render the wi-fi useless? Hmmm....
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: Take issue with 'risky'
Tim Carroll @ 9/22/2009 1:04:20 AM # Q
Considering there are still plenty of "Please help, I want to plug my iPod into my Treo and copy over my iTunes library. Which cable do I buy" sort of requests, it's a good idea to always assume the worst as far as the general public's level of tech-savviness is concerned.

Heh. Good point.

RE: Take issue with 'risky'
abosco @ 9/22/2009 6:39:27 AM # M Q
I would wonder that if you first put an activated Pre into "Airplane mode" and THEN terminated service if it would stay in that mode. But wouldn't that also render the wi-fi useless? Hmmm....

I don't have experience with the Pre, so I can't say that it does this for certain, but after putting the iPhone into airplane mode, you can go back and turn on Wifi alone and use it as an iPod Touch.

Can someone confirm if the Pre does this?

RE: Take issue with 'risky'
Tim Carroll @ 9/22/2009 6:53:58 AM # Q
FYI: There might be an easier homebrew hack coming to bypass activation, Kris. rwhitby finally raised the funds to get his off-contract CDMA Pre and is currently working up a simpler method of bypassing activation so you can use it as a non-phone without hassle.
RE: Take issue with 'risky'
vetdoctor @ 9/22/2009 11:02:00 AM # M Q
Airplane mode: somebody at Precentral said that if you click the "wifi in airplane mode" box it would work
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Without overstating the obvious

Caspian @ 9/22/2009 11:34:20 AM # Q
It has been clear that Palm is moving out of the handheld space and into the phone space. This just reinforces their position that what you get from Palm now is a phone with some handheld features. But, the phone is the primary use. Unlike that earlier Treos that were a handheld with phone features and functioned as decent stand alone handhelds even without the phone contract. I agree with Pat and others that this may be the end of Palm for me. I had held off changing from my old Treo in hopes of a great replacement. Decisions like this tell me that the Pre may not be my next phone.

David
David
Palm III> Palm IIIx> Palm IIIc> Sony T615> Sony T665> Sony TH55> Palm T|E> Palm T|E2> Palm T|X>Treo 700p

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pre

manny2007 @ 9/22/2009 2:02:32 PM # Q
sprint is on the top ten businesses that are likely to fold why would they do things that would keep users from switching to sprint. they need to get their act together. im kind of skeptical with the pre thing even if it comes to verizon. Might be trying a winmo out played with the htc ozone the other night its not to bad and i think i could do almost everything i would want to do. what say you pre users? wait for the pre or switch? is it worth waiting for?
RE: pre
Gekko @ 9/22/2009 6:42:14 PM # Q

they won't fold. someone will buy them.
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