Palm Pre, CES 2009 blockbuster, didn't live up to its hype

The darling of CES 2009, Palm Pre seems like just another smart phone a year later

With the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show a little more than two weeks away, we'd like to take this opportunity to assess the fate of the blockbuster of the 2009 CES show, the Palm Pre.

That's right, the Pre was the one item from the 2009 show that caused grown men to practically drool with anticipation. Seriously, it was a little scary how the eyes of relatively normal technology journalists would spin like pinwheels whenever the Pre was mentioned. From the way everybody was acting, I thought the Palm Pre -- with all its swoops and spins and nifty little keyboard -- was going to be the next Google.

But it wasn't. Sure, it seems like a nice enough smart phone, but nobody is calling 2009 "the Year of the Palm Pre." I wouldn't go so far as to use the word "fizzle," but I'm struck by how it now seems like just another smart phone. One reason, I think, is that there were so many smart phones debuting this year: the Droid, the Palm Pixi, even the Mini 3i from PC maker Dell. It was hard to see the forest from the Pre's. And Apple unveiled the iPhone 3G S a few day after the Palm Pre went on sale. It was sort of like how in 1975 "Chicago" opened on Broadway the same week as "A Chorus Line," so nobody much noticed "Chicago" until the 1996 revival.

I'm really looking forward to my second CES and the new trends I'll spot there, especially now that I know a few of the ropes. Now, for instance, I'll know to leave my tweed jacket at home. It was like wearing a gigantic sign that said "I am a newbie from the East Coast." Now I know to bring some extra cash to maybe catch one of Bette Midler's last shows at Caesar's Palace, as the only Vegas vice I'm much interested in is the sort of over-the-top, heavily sequined entertainment the Divine Miss M would provide. If Sinatra or Sammy were still with us, of course, I would try to see them, but Bette will do just fine. And now I know to take an early flight so I don't get kicked out of Steve Ballmer's keynote by the hotel bouncers.

And whatever happens during these few days in Vegas, I'll keep you informed with updates about the latest and greatest trends of interest to government. I promise, whatever happens to me in Vegas won't stay there -- it'll be posted right here on


About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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Reader Comments

Thu, Dec 31, 2009 Jones

You are right. The Palm Pre failed to live up to the hype. In fact, Palm is probably a dying company. Flanked on the left by multimedia powerhouse devices like the Droid and the iPhone and on the right by straight business machines like the Blackberry. The days of Palm dominance are over, may they rest in peace. Waiting your reports from Sin City. Perhaps do something a bit more exciting than seeing Bette Midler. Go see the movie The Hangover for some good (read bad) ideas.

Wed, Dec 23, 2009 binarycode

The hype surrounding the Palm Pre was more around how much more advanced it was compared to Palm's prior smartphone model, the Palm Treo. Considering that the Palm Treo didn't even have multitasking, multi-touch screen, Synergy, fluid WYSIWYG web browser, real time talking turn-by GPS, etc., the Palm Pre truly did live up to it's hype. So much that it exceeded the basic capabilities of the prior Palm Treo, the Android G1/G2, the iPhone 1G/2G/3G, etc. Of course, you wouldn't know this if you didn't have a truly technical background. If you're judging hype only through marketing and media, then you're looking for hype in the wrong places. The Palm Pre has only just begun. Marketing and media hype will only grow the more as they continue to budget, spend, and focus more in this department now that they have a real product that can back their hype.

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