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Palm Pre: I Can't Believe It's Not iPhone!


New smartphone made by Apple defectors.

Palm (PALM), a pioneer in the smart phone sector, hopes to get back in the game with its new Palm Pre.

The new phone is designed to help users better organize information drawn from an array of sources using different software. It promises speedy Internet browsing, messaging, and offers a notification bar at the bottom of the screen to alert users of scheduled appointments.

The Palm Pre uses a new operating system, the PalmwebOS. It's open-source, and the company hopes third-party developers will create new applications for the phone.

Palm's Treo was a key player in the field, but the company has been hit hard by Apple's (AAPL) iPhone, Google's (GOOG) G1 and Research in Motion's (RIMM) Blackberry.

Sprint Nextel (S) will be Palm's exclusive network provider in the US. The new phone is scheduled for the first half of 2009, though no price has been announced. Palm's CEO told AllThingsDigital blogger Peter Kafka the Palm Pre won't be priced significantly lower than the $200 or so Apple charges for the iPhone.

Valleywag notes that Palm's new device looks like an Apple knockoff, because its designed by folks who apparently got tired of working for Steve Jobs:

"[The Palm Pre] was built by cast of Apple hand-me-downs... Chairman Jon Rubinstein was formerly Jobs' right-hand man, and Palm's campaign of hiring away Apple employees grew so large, and so obvious, that Jobs is said to have called Rubinstein and screamed at him.

"Palm is backed by Elevation Partners, a private equity firm where former Apple CFO Fred Anderson now works. (The rivalry might explain why Jobs is no longer seen palling around with Bono, who's also a partner at Elevation."

Ohhh, the Silicon Valley intrigue!

Does the world need another smartphone? Tech blogs are enthusiastic about the Palm Pre, but many read like company news releases. The new device is a late entry into the smartphone slugfest, and the market will sort the winners from the sinners.
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