Premonition Demolition

March 12, 2009

I was going to boldly predict Apple’s iPhone 3.0 announcement for next Tuesday as a Pre-emptive strike to Pre-vent Palm from controlling next week’s news cycle with a Pre-release. Except Palm somehow managed to resume sucking today with a little help of course from a company best known for sucking – Sprint.

Their invite only joint webcast apparently revealed nothing we didn’t already know and every day that passes without even knowing when it can be purchased sucks momentum away from the Pre. In fact, every day that passes makes the Pre potentially less amazing. Since the Pre’s memorable introduction at CES we’ve already seen new phones from Samsung, Nokia, and HTC that are just as compelling, and now Apple has dropped the 3.0 bomb…..>

You better hurry up if you want to maintain your rePrieve Palm!

Update: The browser is looking promising no matter when it comes out! But still hurry up Palm!

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My flirtation with the pinstriped Moto Q9H ended abruptly in an AT&T store 2 haircuts ago, as the keyboard layout just could never have worked as well for me as that on the Treo Pro (aka Treo 850). The keys on it felt fantastic, but again the layout, especially the placement of the back key actually above the keyboard next to the d-pad turned me off to the device for good. That same weekend I gave away my very first smartphone, the T-Mobile Treo 270 and since that was my first qwerty mobile device, I wonder if I forever will find Palm’s keyboard layout preferable?

I’ve tried so many devices since that first Treo, including the Sidekick II (fantastic keyboard), which for me followed the Treo 270, (after a very brief stint with the IPaq 6315 which I promptly returned to T-Mob). I then had a long affair with the qwerty less Imate Jam (aka HTC Magician) – my first extended exposure to Windows Mobile. I then upgraded to a device I pray HTC will one day reprise: the mini laptopesque Universal. Bought branded as the Imate Jasjar, the VGA screen on that device was exquisite,

but the keyboard was a little wide for my thumbs, and so it wasn’t that difficult to let it roam free in the eBay jungle again a few months after I purchased it.

I switched for a few short months to Nokia smartphones, the camera/video centric N93 clamshell behemoth and the more manageable N70 both with just a T9 keypad. Yeah, despite the media capabilities of both phones, T9 text entry though easier than I expected, was just not realistic. However, I left the Symbian platform on which all Nokia smartphones run with a good impression at least.

I wound up settling for a time on an unlocked AT&T 8125 – the venerable HTC Wizard. I freaking loved the slide out qwerty on that device and T-Mobile by then had pretty decent Edge coverage in Atlanta, so I was set, but the inevitable siren song of new hardware began serenading me, and I jumped to the Sprint network for the Treo 700p. The PalmOS had lost some luster and stability by then and it was difficult for me to justify not returning to WinMo, so I purchased the then 6 month old Sprint 6700 or HTC Apache. This device was very much related to the slider Wizard I had so enjoyed, but the keyboard wasn’t laid out quite as comfortably for me as the Wizard’s had been. So as soon as Sprint offered the WinMo based Treo 700wx, I spent full price to buy one and happiness was mine. I had the best of both worlds – the flexibility and corporate email support of WinMo on Palm hardware, and let me say the keyboard on the Treo 700wx was my favorite and will likely remain my favorite forever.
But this marriage was not what fate had planned for me. Sprint’s poor billing and customer service practices inflated one our bills unacceptably, and they were unwilling to rectify it. So furiously I took action and moved to AT&T immediately (paying ETFs for both me and my wife), despite the fact they had no equivalent to the Treo 700wx yet. What they did have as a front facing qwerty replacement was the Nokia E62, a beast of a device that at the time looked awesome and solved my previous dilemma with Nokia smartphones. Unfortunately, the version of the Symbian based firmware AT&T loaded on the retarded twin of the widely revered European released E61, was not ready for primetime. I literally returned it the next day, swapping it for the only standard flip phone HTC has produced to date the 3125, or Star Trek as codenamed by HTC. I really enjoyed the WinMo Standard Star Trek for the week I used it, but the release of the Samsung Blackjack shortly thereafter rocked my world! And another visit to an AT&T store ensued.
Ah the original BlackJack…..quite possibly my favorite phone of all time. It was my first GSM 3G phone, my first extended exposure to WinMo standard, and the first time I used a smartphone that felt, well sexy. The front facing qwerty on the Blackjack was not the best I’ve used, but coupled with the overall form factor which was ridiculously thin even by today’s standards, and the terrific 3G radio, it just worked. I thought at the time it would take something major to pull my attention away from it. Then 2 months later
Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld and introduced the iPhone.

6+ months later I would own an iPhone the first day I could and though the BlackJack kept itself in the rotation for a while, it was clear which device I was sticking with, despite its limitations relative to the Blackjack. It was just too new and exciting relative to WinMo or anything else for me to imagine not using as my daily device, and so I did until the typing experience and living with corporate email workarounds became too annoying. The iPhone really is a consumption device, not a creation device, and the truth for me is I want to do both equally.

So in the spring of last year, 8 or so months after purchase, I unlocked my iPhone and let my wife use it, and she’s never stopped using an iPhone since. In the meantime I experimented with a Blackberry Curve and an HTC Tilt (aka Kaiser), and I would of course upgrade to the 3G version of the iPhone when it came out. Thanks to the software improvements that accompanied the hardware improvements on the second iPhone model, corporate email workarounds were no longer necessary. But, the content creation
problem was still not solved for me and in reaction, and as covered in previous posts, I purchased a Nokia E71, the touch screen only HTC Touch Diamond (ostensibly to experiment with it so I could possibly choose it’s qwerty laden cousin the Touch Pro when AT&T released their version of it – the Fuze), as well as my current daily device the Treo Pro. I needed to determine if I could again tolerate Windows Mobile or Symbian enough to leave the iPhone interface behind.

So last week I made up my mind and parted with this version of the iPhone once and for all. If Apple ever releases a version with an actual keyboard I will certainly be tempted, but not until then (okay that’s VERY ambitious on my part, but give me a chance). The Treo Pro or 850 is my current daily driver and a very good one at that. The keys on the keyboard themselves are too small for me to be too comfortable with for the foreseeable future, but overall this is the best WinMo device I’ve ever used (very slightly beating
out the BlackJack).

Therefore, I’m in a holding pattern until either Palm releases the Pre with its vertical sliding qwerty (which looks to be a “value sized” version of the one on the Treo Pro) and iPhoneesque interface, or Nokia releases either the E75 with a horizontal sliding qwerty, or E55 with a front facing Blackberry Pearlesque keypad. I’ve pondered pulling the trigger on the Nokia N85, but it’s a T9 affair so I’ve managed to stave off that temptation. The aforementioned HTC Fuze (aka Raphael or Touch Pro) is currently beckoning me also.

If you’ve made it this far, and God Bless you if you have, my historical smartphone count is up to 21. Of course it would be nice if number 22 was the number I would stay at for a while, but I’ve accepted that won’t happen, and what I think I really enjoy is the search for number 22 and 23 and so on…..Mobiquizoid or being a freakazoid for the idea of ubiquitous mobile computing is what I am and ubiquitous mobile computing is the evolving destination I’m really chasing. I thought I would find it through small handheld computers (lucky I didn’t exhaustively cover those purchases too!), but it quickly became clear to me that smartphones are becoming smarter, faster than handheld computers are becoming truly pocketable. Mobiquizoids therefore require true pocketability in a mobile computing device because otherwise the ubiquitous part of the equation gets compromised.

So my search, as it began with the Treo 270, is now confined to smartphones and that search achingly and joyously continues!