Succumbing to the Smartphone Siren

Succumbing to the Smartphone Siren

So shortly after crowing about how cheaply I was getting cell phone service, I've sailed headlong into the rocks of an \$80 a month smart phone plan. In spite of all the Android buzz of late, I went with the Palm Pre.

As I've posted before, I used to be a big Palm enthusiast but switched to Windows Mobile about five years ago. Palm seemed to be falling apart, and Microsoft seemed about poised to do great things. I was wrong -- at least about Microsoft. Windows Mobile is powerful, but it's not enjoyable. I think that user experience has been prioritized somewhere below an integrated nose-hair trimmer, and I credit Windows mobile with turning me from an engaged mobile enthusiast into a passive mobile user because of its stagnation.

It's refreshing to be a Palm user again, with the Palm Pre bringing back the elegance and simplicity of those earlier devices combined with the modernness appropriate for the years that have elapsed since then. Palm's webOS, the underlying Pre operating system, is beautiful. It also gets updated, unlike Windows Mobile. If something doesn't seem quite right with webOS, there's at least hope that it will get fixed with a simple, over-the-air and in-place upgrade.

The Pre itself is also an example of first-class industrial design. It feels good and looks good. Contrast that with the Motorola Droid, which is truly ugly. Maybe they thought the boxy form factor would go with the robot branding or something. The Cylon monotoning, "Droid" when you turn the thing on is pure cheese. The Nexus One looks more promising, though.

Aside from things I've already mentioned, here a few other things that make me happy about the Pre and webOS:

And a few things that need improvement:

So... Why didn't I just get an iPhone? I could probably come up with some good rational reasons, but the biggest ones are more emotional.

  1. As I said, having had such a great experience with Palm in the past, the Pre makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
  2. iTunes... no thanks.
  3. I'm an anti-herd kind of guy. If everybody is doing something (namely, buying iPhones) it makes me want to do something different. Yes, totally irrational.

Steve Mobs