Pop Culture
Palm Pre Canuck Freak Uncertain About Getting Palm Pre
By Hervé St-Louis
August 18, 2009 - 23:15

If you’re one of my friends by now, you’ve heard me preach about the Palm Pre and how much I like it. Just when I was about to become another sheep and finally give in to the iPhone, I heard about the Palm Pre and that changed my life. I’ve never cared about a phone before. Really. I have come to perceive the iPhone as this toy that everyone has. It used to be that only cool people had iPhones. Now, everybody has one. What’s the point of looking like everyone else? It’s like how everybody uses Facebook. It’s dull and lacks any personality. Truly, since the iPhone became cheaper to buy, it’s also cheapening the whole appeal. I know so many people with iPhones, it’s ridiculous.

The Palm Pre has that appeal for me that the iPhone has lost. It’s a phone that does quite a lot. It took from Apple the good and ran away with it. It comes with a solid operating software that allows developers to make applications for the phone easily and it unites all my contacts in one place. It allows me to open several applications at once and to view videos and surf the Web all at once. I don’t care for the physical keyboard, being used to the virtual one in my Nokia N800. The Palm Pre is like a small computer that, in time will be able to view Flash documents, a must for a Flash animator. My Nokia N800 does all of that, but very very very slowly. It’s screen space is bigger than the iPhone’s, but it also cannot fit in my pockets, like a Palm Pre. 

The Palm Pre even has an unofficial Web Comics application to read comic strips online. The application is what is referred to as a homebrew application on the Palm Pre Webos platform. It is an application that is not officially in the Palm Pre application store as of this time. The application was created by German developer  Janni Kovacs and is called Comics. It's not clear how Comics for Palm Pre grabs the data for the comic strips it display, as it allows readers to read several Web Comics such as Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes, The Boondocks, Penny Arcade, Peanuts and Pearls Before Swine for free. One important selling point of the Palm Pre, is that it’s edgier than the iPhone. It’s a gamble and therefore a riskier pursuit!

As soon as it was available for pre-order from Bell Mobility on August 4th 2009, I was pre-ordering the Palm Pre. I spoke with a nice Bell lady and for the next hour, we built a plan that was suitable for my needs. Based on my Nokia N800, I knew I would be using a lot of data, if allowed to. I got free NHL hockey and unlimited data and a host of other features for $45. Voice was extra. After reading a review from the Montreal Gazette, I changed my mind about the Palm Pre. The review stated that unlimited plans were no longer $45. Instead they were $100. As you can turn the Palm Pre into your Internet hub and hook all your computers and Web device through its connection, the guys at Bell thought that people would be abusing this and that it might even kill their Internet service plans. While Palm itself recently suggested to Canadians that they use the unlimited plans from Bell, I’m not sure they knew their Canadian partner was going to try to gouge Canadian customers. At $100 for an unlimited data plan, the Palm Pre is no longer competitive with the iPhone.

Bell is missing an important point here. The Palm Pre is the underdog. The iPhone rules supreme and Canadian stores can’t even get enough stock of this phone to their backlist of potential buyers. There is no such craze in Canada about the Palm Pre – yet. For the Palm Pre to be a suitable and superior alternative to the iPhone, it cannot be more expensive than its main competitor.  It has to offer the same bang and more for less money. That’s what Sprint is doing in the United States when pitting the Palm Pre against AT &T’s iPhone.  Bell Canada is so used to be the bigger player in the Canadian scene that it forgets about humility and about how to reach customers like me who have had bad experiences with Bell in the past and really don’t want to use their network. The only reason I’m back at Bell is because of the Palm Pre.

Then there are the rumours of a GSM Palm Pre. I’d rather have one of those instead. Bell hasn’t officially released its GSM network in Canada. I want a phone which will allow me to use any provider and dump anticompetitive wireless providers that do not offer the best service. Based on past experience, I know better than to trust Bell. A GSM Palm Pre would make me feel more relaxed about signing a one year contract with Bell or any other company. Bell doesn’t tell you but it has one year contracts available for the Palm Pre, but you have to ask for them.

I seriously believe that Bell Canada is killing the launch of the Palm Pre in Canada by having prices change on potential customers, by making products and services more expensive than they should be in the marketplace, by not understanding the real potential of the Palm Pre as the potential dark horse of the wireless industry and by not understanding what budding Palm Pre users want. About a week before the launch of the Palm Pre, its number one fan in Canada is having second thoughts about getting one. That’s not good and Bell is responsible for that. If Bell cannot sell a Palm Pre to its number one fan, who can Bell sell a Palm Pre to? If I cannot get a Palm Pre, I won’t buy an iPhone either. I’ll just stick with my cheap cellular phone and continue to use my tired but capable Nokia N800 which can still pick up free Wi-Fi hot spots from a lot of places in town anyway.  I’m hoping that Bell Mobility’s Vice President of Marketing Cameron Mccuaig reads this and makes the right adjustments for all Canadians.

August 21, 2009 Update:

Bell Mobility confirmed my earlier plan at $45 for unlimited data, including NHL hockey (hey, I'm a Canadian, hockey is always a break or lose it deal for me). My plan is also available to other Bell Mobility Palm Pre customers. It's just that the majority of Bell's phone sales rep and customer support people lack the creativity to look beyond the default plans Bell set up just for the Palm Pre. You don't have to accept what they blindly offer you even if they say that this is all that's available. That's not true. They offer a combo voice and data for $100. You don't have to be stuck on that. There are other plans on Bell's site. Look around and innovate. I'm not paying $100 for my monthly Palm Pre bills and neither should you. You don't have to use Bell's three year contract or buy the phone outright at $600. There is a lot of space to negotiate. You can get a one year contract if you want. Don't settle for what they offer you at first if you really want a Palm Pre, but don't want to pay $100 for unlimited data. I'm a Palm Pre freak and I want everyone that is interested in the Palm Pre to get one without paying exhorbitant prices for it.

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