Can the Palm Pre knock the iPhone off its perch?

Already a million-seller in the US, Palm’s iPhone wannabe, the Pre, has just launched in the UK. Does it have what it takes to rival the seemingly-unstoppable iPhone?

Released exclusively on O2’s network, the Palm Pre is the first handset to rattle the iPhone’s ivory tower with the combination of cute design, slide-out QWERTY keyboard and the debut of a new ‘Web OS’ user interface finally providing a worthy smart phone alternative to Apple’s behemoth, says phone comparison site Omio’s Ernest Doku.

The deals available for the Palm Pre in the UK are fairly competitive, offering a free handset on a 24 month contract, with 600 minutes, 500 texts and unlimited wi-fi for £34.26. Eighteen-month tariffs are also available, with the 8GB Pre priced at £96.89 for breaking off the relationship early. Not too far off the iPhone 3G deals, but a few quid less than O2 is asking for the iPhone 3GS.

“Palm has staked its whole reputation on the Pre – so there’s a lot riding on this launch,” says Doku. “The Pre has been talked up as being the iPhone killer, so expectation levels are already off the scale, and initial sales leading up to Christmas will provide a clear litmus test as to whether the pre-launch hype was justified.

“Palm certainly has its work cut out changing the hearts and minds of Apple loyalists, but if the Pre can achieve the same mass market buzz that the iPhone has achieved, then it could easily match the level of success reached by the diminutive device in the US.

“There is clamour for an iPhone-beating handset, or at least a serious competitor, and the Pre’s combination of stylish looks, a great touch user experience and even one-upping Apple’s device by adding a physical keyboard, already has Palm Pre pegged as the number one contender.”

Doku adds that the pricing of the Pre might be a little too close to the iPhone 3GS for comfort, but those looking for a smart phone alternative that is both fun and functional could be swayed by Pre’s charms.

“The only issue Palm may face is that of not being a known entity in the UK mobile market,” adds Doku.

“[But] against Apple’s hype machine, it could be an uphill struggle for Pre to garner the kind of street credibility that has seen the iPhone sell so effortlessly.”