Adam Cooperman of Boston, who works for a health insurance company, said he wanted to get access to Palm's Software Developer Kit (SDK) to try to market a simple personal productivity application. "If it sells, great, but if not, then I have it for myself," he said.
Cooperman was one of the first to buy a Pre, and had to switch his wireless carrier to Sprint from T-Mobile USA. Minutes after he purchased the smartphone, the screen went blank. He quickly returned it for another, and said it was "probably something minor." Sprint officials said they knew of no similar widespread problems with the new Palm Pre hardware.
Jennifer Stoner, a private tutor from Newton, Mass., said she was hoping the Pre would not pose battery problems for her, since she had read early reviews saying it would work for five hours on a charge. "I need eight hours, as I'm driving around," she said. She uses a solar-powered charger that she stores in her car to keep her cell phone powered up.
Stoner was undecided about buying the Touchstone, a hockey puck-shaped charging dock offered by Palm that requires no cables and sells for $70. "I'm undecided on the Touchstone, even though it's adorable," she said, laughing.
Stoner, like several others at the Framingham store, is a longtime Palm user. Her current Treo smartphone is four years old and needs to be replaced. "I hope the Pre helps Palm, since Palm has always had the greatest apps," she said. A Pre will also impress her students, she said, giving her the ability to quickly browse for facts and information.
"A lot of my students are Korean, [and] they all have the latest phones and know devices," she said.
Richard Rosmarin, another longtime Palm user, said he was eager to have a multitasking smartphone like the Pre so that he could read his e-mail while also listening to music from it in the background. "Of course my wife asked me if having this Pre is critical to my life, but I'm getting it anyway," he said.
Rosmarin, a restructuring consultant at Cornerstone Management LLC in Wellesley, Mass., has followed the fates of Palm and Sprint for a long time. "Sprint needs something like the Pre, since they've lost customers recently," he said. "They need a cool device with pizzazz like this."
Anne-Marie Kenney, an assistant dean of student life at Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., said having the Pre would help her sort through e-mail from Google, Yahoo and others more quickly in a common interface.
She smiled as she also bragged to people waiting in line that she could sync the Pre to iTunes to get access to about 1,000 songs she has there. Even if Apple Inc. decides to turn off that sync capability soon, she said, she will sync them as soon as she can to have all the songs available on her Pre.
Apple has not commented on plans to disrupt the Pre's sync capability with iTunes, although analysts predict Apple will either sue Palm or write the iTunes software to stop the Pre syncing. Palm has defended the sync capability as making it easy for Pre users to access their purchased songs, however.
The Pre customers who switched service from Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. said they found the Pre compelling enough to buy it now, rather than wait at least half a year before either competitor sells the Pre.
Verizon announced plans to sell the Pre and AT&T has said it is interested, although the expiration date of the Sprint deal as the exclusive Pre carrier is still up in the air. CEO Dan Hesse suggested Friday that the exclusive deal might last beyond the end of the year, although David Owens, director of Sprint consumer marketing said later it was through the end of year.
Elliott, the Sprint spokesman, attempted to rationalize both of those predictions today by saying, "What we've been saying is that the exclusive with Palm Pre lasts through at least the end of the year."
Nick Barber of the IDG News Service in Boston contributed to this report.