First up, Jamie Zawinski (jwz) has abandoned the Palm Pre and gone all in on iPhone, despite Apple being worse than Palm when it comes to developer relations and closed ecosystems. Why? "Because it just [redacted] works." He highlights Mac sycn, but especially performance as key. Long delays in being able to use the Pre calendar, phone, and camera apps are especially irksome.
I don't expect the performance of this phone to be even remotely suitable for every day use for at least a year. I figure it's going to either take a substantial amount of work on the lower levels of the OS, or they're going to have to throw Moore's law and new hardware at it...
Next up, Steven Frank, who abandoned the iPhone after the Google Voice incident, and returned to it when he couldn't find happiness with another device, nails why that's still the case some 2 years later:
It’s not just that the iPhone has fancy woo-woo transitions and purty graphics; it runs all the way down the software stack. For example, when I tap on something, I don’t have to hover for five seconds wondering “now did it get that tap, or do I have to do it again?” This is something other platforms are still struggling with. When we say you have a bad experience, this is the sort of thing we mean. It has little to do with features, and everything to do with core functionality.
Lastly, Daniel Pasco offers a theory as to why -- Apple spent years and a fortune figuring out the iPhone:
Because of that effort, since the iPhone was released, everyone else has been struggling to play catch up, and no one has really come close. Apple raised the bar higher than anyone else had before, and by the time the competition realized how much of an effort would be required to seriously compete, the public had already turned to them to see how they would meet Apple’s threat.
Spending 2.5 years in secret, and who knowns how many of those billions, and then unleashing the iPhone 2G multi-touch user interface changed the game in 2007, and more -- it forced competitors to play catchup in public. Sure, many have the iPhone now to copy, but Apple has the momentum to keep innovating.
The question is, can incredibly rich companies like Microsoft, and amazingly innovative ones like Palm -- or Google which is both -- bridge that gap at the core functionality and user experience level?