Sprint CEOh-Snap: Comparing Palm Pre to iPhone is "like comparing someone to Michael Jordan"


Sprint CEO Dan Hesse was put on Charlie Rose's hot seat and asked the pointed question: "Is the Palm Pre making a dent into the iPhone market?"

Hesse's response?

Aaah... It's-it's doing well, but you can almost put the iPhone, to be fair, in a separate category. The Apple brand and that device have done so well, it's almost not... it's like comparing someone to Michael Jordan.

Gizmodo figured they'd remind Hesse that it was, in fact, the same category and that Apple needs competition (the consumer needs competition). Engadget thinks it was a duly respectful and tactful acknowledgement of the iPhone's success.

We think it's nice to hear a wireless CEO who's not so bombastic and, frankly, disconnected as most of them seem to be, as evident by Hesse's answers on Android, Nextel, the price of touchscreen handsets, and battery life as an impediment to smartphone growth.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Sprint CEOh-Snap: Comparing Palm Pre to iPhone is "like comparing someone to Michael Jordan"


Worthless post. I must agree with Engadget that Mr. Hesse was merely acknowledging the iPhone's wild success up to this point. He was not saying the iPhone was BETTER, though I'm sure iFans would like to believe that.
Making direct comparisons of the iPhone launch to the Palm Pre's launch is an extremely flawed approach. Because they're simply apples and oranges. Palm's mission is to release a new OS and get it into the mainstream, not necessarily to release a gangbuster device, like the iPhone. Such a strategy by a 1,000 employee company would be foolish if they're trying to take down one of 35,000.
Palm's webOS WILL gain traction. Great part is, there's plenty of room in this market for iPhone, Palm Pre, Android, WinMo, Symbian........ more choice is good for consumers in this rapidly growing segment.
For me? I used to own an iPhone, and was happy to get rid of it (and AT&T!). ... I've owned my Palm Pre since launch. Best phone I've ever owned.

@Vera - comparing two smartphones is apples to oranges? Perhaps comparing levels of adoption between these two devices is apple to oranges but considering the Pre ads all target supposed weaknesses of the iPhone I don't think Palm considers it that way. They are obviously trying to say they are on par or better than the existing standard in smartphones (iPhone) and want to be considered in th same category (apples to apples my friend).

I agree with al. The pre, hero, storm, and iPhone are all in direct competition with one another. Absolutly apples to apples.

Two years from now there will be plenty of competition for Apple, more than they will be comfortable with. Fact is they are it at the moment, but with other devices, like the Pre and Android OS, we might be in a position with too many options out there. That is where Google might stand the best chance with their open license approach - very much unlike Apple.
Apple (how I love them) is the popular girl at school right now, but we all know that will eventually change over time. Don't get me wrong, I wish them success and they will be a strong force for years to come, but there are other options, some of which might even be better!
Kick Butt

The comment was made by Mr. Hesse. He is CEO of sprint and I'm sure he would love to have the iphone right about now. To him comparing the impact the Pre and iphone have made on the current consumer market is apples and oranges. If the comment had been made by Palm then it's apples and apples because they are 2 competitors. Sprint doesn't compete with apple. Mr. Hesse was correct in his statement to say "it's like comparing someone to Michael Jordan".

I don't know about the iPhones popularity going away. I think once this exclusivity deal wit AT&T is over we'll see another surge in iPhone sales.
If Apples success in the computer market is any indicator and they want to continue dominating, I think they will. I think in about 3 or 4 years, the iPhone (with updates and upgrades) will still be the badest boy on the block. Just my personal opinion.

The diffrence between apples and oranges is. People go out of thier way, and pay good money to pick apples. always lookin for the most delicious, and juicey one. Oranges sit in sacks at the grocery store till someone bothers to grab a some. Then they have to crushed them into juice, and sip it over eggs and bacon but never properly enjoy it. Cause as good as they make it look on the outside. It's mostly pulp on the inside. Most people who pick an orange do it cause they have no choice. They need some vitamin C. Now nobody really needs an apple. They just want it, crave it, and love it. Bacons good to! What were we talking about? Something about groceries... Anyone else hungry?

Palm cuts corners by making cheap hardware. Apple goes the extra mile and produces better hardware. You pay a premium for that but at least you know won't accidentally crack your screen just because you sat down with your phone in your pocket.

"Mr. Hesse was merely acknowledging the iPhone’s wild success up to this point. He was not saying the iPhone was BETTER, though I’m sure iFans would like to believe that." - vara411
Dude, when you say that someone ir something is the Michael Jordon of it's field, it sure the hell is saying that it's better than the rest.
Regarding the article, while I think it's unwise to criticize your competition (at least in public), calling them the Michael Jorden of the industry is way too generous of an admission to make - even if it's undeniably true.

Vera- your hilarious!
This must have pissed Palm off! And how much butt kissing will Sprint be doing now that the iPhone is getting close to headin out to other carriers- watch how fast they throw Pre aside.

Ahahah lotta shit talk on this topic huh?
Well first of all u can definitely compare Micheal Jordan to the even better Kobe Bryant... LOL tru dat. Holla!
And the Palm Pre has a much more unique OS than the iPhone but the iPhone is better hands down. TY, TY! haha

@vara, to say comparing the two is like apples and oranges is a stupid statement to make, why do u think so many people r comparing the devices as apples to apples..... Oh right because you can -__-

It will be 2012 before any phone challenges the iphones' cult status. Remember, when the iPhone was released in 2007; Jobs said it was 5 years ahead of any phone on the market!

I know a few people who go out and get the latest iPhone killers unlocked the pre was of one of those giant slayers in the end they all come back to the champ will we ever see a phone better than it the badest phone on the planet

I also don't think Heese was saying that the iPhone is a product of higher quality. He was merely acknowledging it's larger than life status.
Kobe Bryant and LeBron James can easily be compared to Jordan in the quality of their basketball skill... but neither of them can be compared to his iconic status or the way he virtually created a brand unto himself - AirJordan.
The comparison is very apt, because while other products of similar quality now exist, the iconic status of the one and only iPhone is still unrivaled.

Wow, Hess gives the iPhone a compliment and some iPhone users still manage to come across like arrogant asswipes in return.

Comparing someone to Michael Jordan means that MJ will always be the greatest because he took the game to a new level so whenever we have really good players people will always compare to MJ. like Lebron and Kobe. They're really good but they will still be compared to him.
The iPhone reviltionized the cell industry and become the phone everyone compares to... The phone to beat per say. Apple not only were forwardthinking with the iPhone but they put something out that actually delivered!
As long as apple and iTunes are around the iPhone is going to always dominate the cell market for years to come. They have managed to do the same with the iPod which has dominated the mp3 market for years!
Mac computers are starting the same pandemic.
No phone as of yet has been able to offer as much as the iPhone and it always stay ahead of the competition with the app store. Palm Pre is a great device but definately no Michael Jordan :)
for everyone saying that the iPhone will be going out of style soon your wrong. Think about what I said in the next five years. I am betting aplenty has some huge plans for the 4G.

Derek, you said it perfectly. At this point it's about the iPhones mind share and it's brand.

There are a few smartphones gaining ground but don't say it like Apple is standing still. The iPhone is the device that is bringIng more consumers to the brand everyday and they are banking on it as well they should. On top of the fact that iTunes is worldwide I repeat worldwide. Does the phone have some flaws yes just like all do but atleast this CEO acknowledges that it is a force to be reckoned with.

My iPhone 3Gs is simply brilliant. But I do like Palm's multiple applications open at the same time. At least that is what appears to be happening on my friend's Palm. Maybe it is just a GUI thing?

I'm glad iPhone is the Jordan of phones. I would be upset if my phone was the Kobe cause when I think of Kobe. All I remember is the rape trial. When i think of Jordan the worst I remember is space jam. I'll take space jam over rape jam any day.

Space Jam is awesome! Only Jordan has the right to play basketball with Looney Tunes and space martians...and lets not forget the ability to stretch his arm half court. :)

Palms mission is not to simply place their OS into the mainstream. Now, you either haven't been keeping up when Palm reps directly stated on numerous occations that they were competing with iPhone and are releasing a phone that is better than the iPhone, or you choose to ignore that fact. These comparisons are directly related to Palms positioning of Pre as being a competitor so one would naturally pit them against each other. You don't openly announce you are competing and then hope people will think as you do. They are competing meaning they think their product is better. Enough said. We are stating iPhone is much better which kind of goes with the whole competition thing does it not?

iPhone User for life are you kidding the palm pre does not even compare to the original iphone 2g nothing does well other than the iphone 3g. I can do more with this one device than most can do with 3 different units.