Palm has met the challenge, at least in the company's traditional area of strength in personal information management, Greengart of Current Analysis said. The Pre will be able to draw in contact and calendar information from sites like Facebook. In addition, its operating system lets users run more than one application at once. There is nothing else quite like it on the market, he said.
"Palm has done a great job with creating a gesture-based interface that's really, really polished," Greengart said.
Palm is also launching its own store for WebOS applications, called the App Catalog. It will launch Saturday in beta testing, with a few hand-picked software partners, and later be opened to other developers.
However, the Pre does fall short for enterprise use, at least so far, Gartner's Dulaney said. Before it will recommend a smartphone for enterprises, Gartner requires it to allow for two policies: To remotely wipe the data off a device that is lost or stolen, and to require hard-to-guess passwords and force users to refresh them periodically. Whereas BlackBerrys have those capabilities and the iPhone has recently added them, the Pre doesn't have them yet, he said. Palm told Gartner it is aware of the shortcomings and is working on solving them, according to Dulaney.
Those upgrades might be available by the time the Pre's second moment of truth arrives. That is likely to come in about eight months, when AT&T and Verizon Wireless are expected to have rolled out the device for their customers, Greengart said. (Sprint has an exclusive agreement with Palm until the end of this year, Owens said. He declined to address comments by CEO Dan Hesse, in an interview Friday with CNet, in which he suggested the deal might last longer.)
If the Pre's launch on those larger carriers generates as much interest as this one, and if the App Catalog is populated with a wide array of exciting software, then the device will have arrived, Greengart said.