Palm Launches Pixi, webOS 1.3.1

This weekend, Palm launched its second webOS phone, the Palm Pixi. At the same time, the company also released webOS 1.3.1 for Pre owners in the US (other countries will follow later this month). At the same time, Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein talked to The New York Times about his company.

The Palm Pixi was launched yesterday. It’s the spiritual successor to the highly successful Palm Centro, but obviously comes with the webOS – version 1.3.1, to be precise. The Pixi (coolest name ever for a phone, if you ask me) is clearly positioned underneath the Pre, with a slower processor, less RAM, a smaller screen, and no wifi capabilities. It is also ridiculously cheap compared to its competition.

The Pixi is aimed at a younger audience than the Pre, and as Rubinstein puts it, “It was designed for people who are transitioning from feature phones and getting their first smartphone.” The first set of reviews are positive, but they do note that this is indeed no replacement or competition for the iPhone, Droid, or the Pre, because of the lower specifications. Update: Gizmodo’s review is pretty negative.

The Pixi comes with webOS 1.3.1, and this version of the innovative mobile operating system has also been released for Pre owners in the US. It comes with quite the boatload of new features, bug fixes, and other improvements, such as support for Yahoo! in Synergy, better email notifications, improved Music applications, and much more. A number of hidden features have already been discovered.

So, where is Palm going with all this? Will the company be able to compete with the likes of RIM, Apple, Nokia, and Android? One of the common complaints is that the webOS simply doesn’t have enough applications yet. According to Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, the webOS doesn’t need as many applications as for instance the iPhone. “We are focused on quality over quantity,” he said.

Palm most likely won’t be able to do much about RIM, Nokia, and Apple, but it can do something about the popularity of Android. Rubinstein believes that Android is too focussed on the “techie audience”, and that handset makers are too dependent on “the kindness of strangers” – which would be 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.

Despite all the uncertainty in the market, Rubinstein (obviously) believes Palm is positioned well. “We did what we said we were going to do,” he said, “We have done a really good job of laying a foundation for the company moving forward. Now we need to move quickly.”


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