How the funky have fallen

I’ve pretty much always been a tech magpie. I was explaining to my son’s girlfriend who was aghast at how much apple detritus there is in our house (it’s actually pretty appalling) that I get an almost physical ache when something new exists and I don’t have one.

Nowadays that ache is almost totally fixated on products bearing the apple logo – which is pretty sad – I know that friends and family chiefly identify me nowadays as an apple zealot; to the extent that when my own father was putting together a touching Christmas present last year (he found slate from the old family slate mine and had it carved into monograms for all the family) my monogram consisted of my name with the apple logo for an ‘o’…

It wasn’t always so… I am the original “iPhone halo effect” man. Whilst I had secretly always admired Cupertino’s products, I’d also considered them – well, just too damned expensive.

Back in the day one of my most prized possessions was a Palm 3 organiser – not a “palm pilot”, this came a bit later than that, it had a new version of the Palm OS, more memory and a sleek new corporate look. It marked a brave jump for Palm – they were riding high on a wave of admiration for their products, they had a bright Californian glow like you get from the best young tech companies (think twitter). They’d broken away from the corporate shackles of 3com and were making their own way confidently in the world.

The device itself was a bit rubbish – PDAs all were if we’re going to be honest. What it did it did exceptionally well however – you could write on it (sortof), it synced effortlessly with Outlook (no mean feat), you could play solitaire on it – fairly cool. It also made a pair of AAA duracells last two weeks…

It was focussed on a single job and it did it with flair and panache – in a way other, supposedly “better” products like the Compaq iPaq (how did they get away with that name?) never did.

Palm never really seemed to match that product for me though – they had the VX which was basically the same device in a beautiful shiny case – but at the time that was like an “apple product” for me – unattainable. With each new release I watched Palm as they rode the tribulations of tech’s backwaters, hoping for another WOW product that would tempt me back…

And they nearly did it didn’t they? The Palm Pre was hyped more than the iPhone in the US in the run up to both devices’ launch. The OS sounded great frankly, slicker and more intuitive than iOS. Whilst I had been punching “apple phone” into rumour sites for two years, I was almost as excited by the Pre – which DID exist…

But somehow Palm fluffed it – I don’t know what happened (it happened in the US and the fight was all over by the time it got to us) Either they launched too late or didn’t strike the right deal with a carrier or… Well, the Pre just got lost in all the iPhone chatter. It got lost to me, who would have loved to champion it – Like I said I wasn’t at the time the raving fanboy I am now.

The Pre didn’t flop exactly, it just sort of “Zuned”. It was a perfectly competent device overshadowed by apple to the point of irrelevance. A real shame, because it wasn’t a Zune: Palm didn’t shamelessly ape the iPhone, they had a worthy competitor FIRST.

I carried on watching as Palm inevitably got swallowed by another corporate master; HP this time, and I thought optimistically that – well, actually HP might be one of the few companies who could make Palm work – if they threw serious dollar behind it while keeping the brand fresh and alternative.

So we come to this morning when I received this tweet:


Oh dear. How very unPalm. Palm wouldn’t have resorted to spamming my inbox in a desperate attempt to get me to look at a 3 year old product. Palm would have gone away and created something brilliant which would have attracted my magpie eyes.

So no, palm_scout I’m not following your link. I have thought about the Palm Pre – for about a year (3 years ago) it held me enthralled as a possible return to form for a company I related to. Unfortunately when I think Palm Pre nowadays I just think “what a shame”. And your twitter-spam just reinforces that.


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