As Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak paid rapt attention (via Engadget), Palm's new dynamic duo, Jon Rubinstein and Roger McNamee took turns amazing, informing, and stupefying the crowd at All-Things Digital's D7 conference. Our sibling site, PreCentral.net has complete coverage, but from an iPhone perspective there were a few things worth drawing attention to...
The good: Ruby and Mac, straight and funny man respectively, were an awesome combination in the best, most comedic sense of the term. Palm should make sure their contracts say they need to co-host all future events. Presentation Gold. Ruby controlled the message and acted the responsible corporate governor while Mac was left to make outrageous claims and obfuscate the tough questions. And it worked brilliantly. Their opening video alone, which self-deprecatingly poked at Mac's history of grandiose statements all the while letting him slip in even more jabs, such as the terminal "[Palm Pre] eats iPhone's for breakfast."
The bad: when demonstrating the previously mentioned Palm Pre hooks into sync, comments were made about Apple being "monopolistic". Puh-leeze. Palm has an absolute right to make their own desktop client (they already make Palm Desktop for example). They don't have the right to hook into Apple's without license, even if Apple has the most popular media client on the planet. To make it simple for them, no matter how popular McDonald's is, they have the right to serve their own fries with their Big Macs. Burger King DOES NOT have the right to set up a stall inside McDonald's and hook up Whoppers next to the MacFries machine -- unless McDonald's says it's okay.
Tangent: Telling Palm Pre users they can hook up and sync with iTunes, even if you specify "DRM free music, photos (?!), and videos" is all fun and games until a) users can't transfer their iPhone apps and blame Apple, b) a routine (or not so) update to iTunes breaks Pre compatibility and users blame Apple.
The ugly: Great as Ruby and Mac were together, Ruby couldn't stop Mac from fully inserting his foot into his mouth towards the end. In a painfully, painfully drawn-out exchange with Kara Swisher, Mac began by saying the Pre had a mirror for woman, which Swisher immediately took exception to. Unrelenting, Mac continued to press the point about women being an ignored segment of the market, then took exception to Swisher's exception, and basically ended up writing the title for this here blog post, casting the Palm Pre as the "iPhone for Ladies" -- insulting women and potentially turning off a segment of their male audience as well. Sad, given the great start to the show.
So that was likely the last big Palm song and dance before release, and it was a mixed bag and perhaps a changing of the guard as well. A lot was made of Ruby's Apple pedigree and experience -- and we couldn't help but notice that after Ruby's comments that he basically rescued the Pre from resistive hell, Palm founder Ed Colligan was nowhere to be seen. If the Palm Pre is Ruby's iPhone, maybe we've just met the new iPalm?