Is The Palm Pixi Premature?


Forget for a minute that Apple stole Palm's thunder when the struggling device maker unveiled the Palm Pixi this week. Also try to forget that Apple unveiled its iPhone 3G S right around when Palm released the Palm Pre, casting a shadow over what should've been Palm's largest and most successful smartphone launch to date.

It's not Apple's fault that its timing is impeccable and Palm's isn't. It also doesn't help Palm that Apple's products are better, or at least they give off the illusion that they're better, prompting more people to buy them.

Regardless of the Apple vs. Palm tit-for-tat, Palm's unveiling on Wednesday of the Palm Pixi, the second device to hit Palm's lineup based on its new webOS, which saw its debut in June with the Palm Pre, was premature, essentially making the Pixi destined to fail.

Yes, the Pixi's release was overshadowed by Apple's music event. But the Palm Pixi will also suffer due to the Palm Pre's poor performance. The Pre is going to fall well shy of the 1 million to 1.5 million units Palm was hoping to sell through the end of the year. If anything, the Pixi will further eat away at Pre sales, which may mean more sales for Palm but makes the Pre more of a flop.

Palm was in such a rush to right the wrongs it made with the Palm Pre that it is releasing the Palm Pixi too soon. Palm didn't even give the Pre time to stand alone in the bustling holiday smartphone buying season. Instead, Palm panicked and pulled the trigger on the Pixi before it had to.

That's not to say the Palm Pixi isn't a hot little smartphone. It is. The compact handheld packs a full keyboard, a 2.63-inch multitouch display, GPS and a 2-megapixel camera. And like the Pre before it, the Palm Pixi is a social media and mobile messaging powerhouse, tying in Facebook, Google and Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync along with LinkedIn and Yahoo contacts, calendar and IM capabilities.

As with the Palm Pre, the Palm Pixi promises Palm Synergy, which aggregates social networking tools into one feed, a staple feature of Palm's webOS.

While so far Palm hasn't divulged the Palm Pixi's price, it'll likely come in lower than the Palm Pre, which in some places can be scored for $150 after rebates and a two-year contract.

So, yeah, the Palm Pixi is smaller than its predecessor. But it's also quite similar. What Palm should've done is focused on updating webOS and make the Pre better in order to sell more units, instead of offering up a device that's almost exactly the same.

Let the Palm Pre gain some notoriety before introducing its little brother in the Palm Pixi. Why force a second webOS device onto the market while the first one is still finding its feet?