Either by coincidence, design, or some sort of Zeitgeist sine wave, at least three legal publications -- the ABA Journal, California Lawyer magazine, and an online journal -- ran simultaneous articles in the past month comparing Blackberry smartphones and iPhones as firm-issued equipment. At least one of the articles mentioned the upcoming, not-yet-released Palm Pre; but to my recollection, none mentioned my current smartphone, the Palm Treo. I find that odd, because in the real world I see almost as many attorneys using various iterations of the Treo as I see using Blackberries; and certainly more than I see using iPhones.
The general consensus among the three articles is that the Blackberry is the best smartphone for e-mail, and is also the choice for those who find the virtual keyboard on the iPhone a challenge, since most of the Blackberries have physical QWERTYUP keyboards. The iPhone, for its part, is the champion for web-surfing and for viewing pdf documents, owing to its large screen.
Now we are getting articles like the one linked to above, which look at the continuing financial woes of Palm; and view the upcoming Pre as a make-or-break product for the company. (The reasons for Palm's problems seem fairly plain: (a) Its main product -- dedicated PDAs like the iconic Palm Pilot, later just the Palm -- have been rendered practically obsolete by smartphones; (b) its smartphone never had as much name recognition as the Blackberry or the iPhone; and (c) Palm really hasn't put out a radically new Treo in the last several years.) From advance accounts, the Pre has the potential to eclipse both the Blackberry and the iPhone as a business device, because it combines the best of both worlds: Like the iPhone, it has a big touchscreen, ideal for websurfing (and at speeds faster than the iPhone, according to the hype); but like the Blackberry, it has a physical keyboard, which slides out from under the screen. Plus, it has features the iPhone apparently has never been able to master, such as cut-and-paste between functions (something the Treos have done for years).
Apple has such a mystique, and the iPhone such a high visibility factor, that I doubt the Pre will charm the general public away from iPhones. But it does stand to win over the business crowd, particularly once Sprint's exclusive rights to the Pre expire and it migrates to Verizon, the highest rated cell phone service. And winning over IT folks who will buy the phone in bulk and issue it to the firm's troops is no small feat.
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