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Palm Talks Smack About Android

Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein recently said that Android is for "techies" and webOS (its own smartphone platform) is for "people." He also said that he thinks webOS doesn't need 80 gazillion applications to become appealing to the masses. Really?
Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein recently said that Android is for "techies" and webOS (its own smartphone platform) is for "people." He also said that he thinks webOS doesn't need 80 gazillion applications to become appealing to the masses. Really?One of the biggest limitations facing adopters of the Palm Pre, Pixi and the webOS platform they're based on is the lack of applications. Looking at the competition, Apple has 100,000, Android has 12,000, BlackBerry has about 2,500, Windows Mobile has nearly 700, and Palm has just over 300 applications.

Palm isn't competing with Apple, RIM or Google at all, and Rubinstein knows it. He told The New York Times, "We're focused on quality over quantity."

Palm's Apps Catalog is still in beta more than five and a half months after launch. Palm is still being restrictive about who it is letting play with its code, though Rubinstein believes developers will eventually see the light due to the fact that webOS is based on Web technology and programming languages.

He noted that one of the biggest limiting factors facing Android is that it is an ecosystem that relies on multiple partners coming together -- most notably Google. "The companies that will deliver the best products are the ones that integrate the whole experience - the hardware, the software and the services - and aren't getting one piece from here and one piece from there and trying to bolt it all together," he said.

He says that Android lacks mass appeal, noting, "Android, and the [Motorola] Droid in particular, are designed for the techie audience. We are doing a more general product that helps people live their lives seamlessly."

I beg to differ. In the five and a half months that the Palm Pre has been available from Sprint, I have yet to see a single one being used by a regular person. In fact, I have yet to see one being used at all. Further, many of my friends and acquaintances -- who are regular people -- are very excited about Android and many of the new phones that have come out in the recent weeks.

Palm has yet to share any information about how many of its webOS devices (Palm Pre) have sold. We know with certainty that HTC sold more than one million units of both the G1 and the Magic/myTouch 3G. With a minimum of two million units in the hands of users around the world, I'd say Rubinstein is out of order saying that Android lacks mass appeal -- especially when the masses have so far avoided webOS.

Palm's Pixi, its new, entry-level webOS smartphone goes on sale this week. It's a decent phone, though it is missing some core smartphone features (such as Wi-Fi). Price at just $99, Palm is hoping this device will find a good niche. Will it?