Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Teeny-Tiny Pixi Phone From Palm Tries Killing Giant Hype for Apple Event Today

Oh, BoomTown fears this is not going to end well for the weensy little smart phone Palm is debuting today on–what an amazing coincidence!–the very same day Apple is throwing its big product bash in San Francisco, at which Mac fanboys fervently hope that Supreme Leader Steve Jobs might even appear.

You don’t step on the Superman of Silicon Valley’s cape, of course, but the device with the aggressively cute name of Pixi is apparently attempting just that.

Thus, this fairytale might have a not-so-happy ending.

In any case–reminding BoomTown simultaneously of an unfortunate haircut I had at seven years old, those sticky sticks of powdered candy and, of course, Tinkerbell–Pixi seems to be a smaller, less featured and cheaper version of the Palm (PALM) Pre device.

Except super-adorably skinny and featuring “Sex-and-the-City”-style fashionable back covers by artists.

(Paging Roger McNamee: Where is the mirror, please, because–as you insisted to me in an interview at the seventh D: All Things Digital conference, the ladies love it!)

Pixi uses the Palm webOS platform and other software from third parties, such as Facebook and Yahoo (YHOO).

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The Pixi is seen here trying to flirt with a manly cup of coffee, with more images posted below, which you can click on to make larger–although not much larger since it is a pixie, for goodness sake!

Palm said the Pixi is scheduled to be available exclusively from Sprint (S) in time for the holidays (you can read more details in the full press release below).

But the launch today is clearly a happily-ever-after play–one that will surely cause Palm to catch all kinds of flak, if anyone actually pays any sustained attention today to Pixi given the outsized focus on whatever innovation in the iPod or iPhone or iTunes that Apple (AAPL) might or might not announce.

And, if Jobs does appear, all geek hell is sure to break loose and Palm staffers can pretty much quit for the day and go see “Julie & Julia” to familiarize themselves with the Pixi demographic.

By way of explanation, a Palm source wrote in an email to me last night, “timing’s a funny thing,” noting that this event has been long-planned to align with the demo debut of Pixi at Palm-sponsored Fashion Week in New York next week.

While one has to admire its minuscule chutzpah at going up against the Jobs-fueled juggernaut–a move even Google (GOOG) mobile plotter-in-chief Vic Gundotra wouldn’t attempt so overtly–let’s not hope the Pixi gets lost in the Apple sauce.

(Okay, sue me, but that line was too good to resist.)

Here are some more images to peruse, and below them, the full press release on the Pixi from Palm:

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Thin Palm Pixi Phone Puts Fast, Intuitive Communication at Fingertips

Palm’s Thinnest Phone Yet Expands Palm webOS Line with Customizable Style

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Sep 09, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE)–Palm, Inc. (NASDAQ:PALM) today introduced the Palm(R) Pixi(TM) phone for faster, more intuitive and personal communication in a compact and customizable design.(1) With the instinctively useable Palm webOS(TM) platform, strikingly thin design, a visible full keyboard and fashionable personalization options, Palm Pixi lets you express yourself in amazingly useful ways. It’s scheduled to be available exclusively from Sprint in time for the holidays.

“With Palm webOS, we’re creating a new, more intuitive smartphone experience defined by unmatched simplicity and usefulness,” said Jon Rubinstein, Palm chairman and chief executive officer. “Palm Pixi brings this unique experience to a broader range of people who want enhanced messaging and social networking in a design that lets them express their personal style.”

In addition to linking your information from Google(TM), Facebook and Exchange ActiveSync, Palm Pixi adds Yahoo! and LinkedIn integration to Palm Synergy(TM) and assembles it all in a single view.(2) You can get your Yahoo! contacts, calendar and IM, and access to your LinkedIn contacts, including job titles. Synergy on Palm Pixi makes messaging easier by showing you all your conversations with the same person in one chat-style thread, so you can start a conversation on AIM Instant Messenger, Google Talk(TM) or Yahoo! Messenger and continue it by text message later.(3)

Complementing the phone’s already rich Facebook integration with the contacts, phone, calendar and photo applications, a new Facebook application will be available with Palm Pixi so you can see and comment on all the latest news from your friends, as well as easily update your status. The phone’s full QWERTY keyboard puts it all at your fingertips, and the multi-touch screen lets you move back and forth between open applications using natural gestures.(4) The unique removable back cover is rubberized, making it scratch-resistant, slip-resistant and durable.

Personalization with Style

For those who want to express themselves with some extra style, Palm is introducing the Palm Pixi Artist Series. Designed by some of today’s most unique and compelling artists, these numbered, limited-edition back covers let you change designs to suit your mood. You can see the first collection in the series, as well as information about the artists, at www.palm.com/artistseries. Palm will be showcasing the fashionable new Palm Pixi with the Artist Series covers this week at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York (Sept. 10-17).

You can also tailor Palm Pixi to your interests with downloadable applications from the Palm Beta App Catalog, including the latest entertainment and social networking applications such as Local Concerts by iLike, and Yelp(TM).(5) You can use Palm media sync to customize your phone with music, photos and videos from iTunes (Versions 8.1.1-8.2.1)(6), or use the on-device Amazon MP3 store to purchase individual songs or full albums over-the-air.(3)

“Palm Pixi continues Sprint’s leadership in providing useful and innovative devices on America’s most dependable 3G network,”(7) said Dan Hesse, chief executive officer at Sprint. “We are pleased to be the first carrier to bring this device to market and offer both devices in the growing Palm webOS family. Sprint’s Everything Data plans, which provide unrestricted access to the Internet, mobile content and applications, and our Ready Now retail experience make for a perfect combination with these new Palm products.”

The Sprint Mobile Broadband Network reaches more than 271 million people, 18,652 cities and 1,838 airports, and Sprint’s networks are now performing at best-ever levels.

Customers who purchase Palm Pixi will benefit from Sprint’s Ready Now, which the company pioneered to help customers leave the store educated, comfortable and confident about the phones they’re taking home. It is like having a free personal trainer that educates you on all your phone can do by setting up all the applications you want to use on the device.

Palm Pixi is also the perfect complement to Sprint’s Simply EverythingSM plan, which provides unlimited nationwide calling, texting, email, social networking, web browsing, GPS navigation, Sprint TV, streaming music, NFL Mobile Live, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile and much more for only $99.99 per month. It’s a savings of $1,200 over two years versus some comparable competitor plans.

Palm Pixi Features

  • High-speed connectivity (EVDO Rev. A)
  • 2.63-inch multi-touch screen with a vibrant 18-bit color 320×400 resolution TFT display
  • Gesture area, which enables simple, intuitive gestures for navigation
  • Exposed QWERTY keyboard for fast messaging
  • Robust messaging support (IM, SMS and MMS capabilities), including Google Talk, AIM and Yahoo! IM
  • High-performance, desktop-class web browser
  • Integrated GPS(8)
  • Multimedia options, including pictures, video playback and music, and featuring a 2-megapixel fixed-focus camera with LED flash, and a standard 3.5mm headset jack
  • Email, including Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) (for access to corporate Microsoft Exchange servers), as well as personal email support (Google push, Yahoo! push, POP3, IMAP)(9)
  • Bluetooth(R) 2.1 + EDR with A2DP stereo Bluetooth support
  • 8GB of internal user storage (~7GB user available)(10)
  • USB mass storage mode
  • MicroUSB connector with USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • The first handset to launch with Qualcomm’s high-performance MSM7627(TM) chipset
  • Proximity sensor, which automatically disables the touch screen and turns off the display whenever you put the phone up to your ear
  • Light sensor, which dims the display if the ambient light is dark, such as at night or in a movie theater, to reduce power usage
  • Accelerometer, which automatically orients web pages and photos to your perspective
  • Ringer switch, which easily silences the device with one touch
  • Removable, rechargeable 1150 mAh battery
  • Dimensions: 55mm (W) x 111mm (L) x 10.85mm (D) [2.17 in. (W) x 4.37 in. (L) x 0.43 in. (D)]
  • Weight: 99.5 grams (3.51 ounces)
  • Sprint services, including Sprint TV(R) and Sprint Radio, Sprint Navigation, Sprint’s exclusive NFL Mobile Live and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile Live

Availability and Pricing

The Palm Pixi phone is scheduled to be available from Sprint in time for the holidays. Pricing for the phone, as well as the limited-edition Palm Pixi Artist Series covers, will be announced closer to availability. Customers who would like to register to receive additional information about Palm Pixi and be notified when it’s available can register at www.palm.com/pixi.

In addition, effective today the Palm Pre(TM) phone from Sprint is available for $149.99 with a two-year service agreement and after a $150 instant rebate and $100 mail-in rebate. You can find this great pricing at Sprint stores, on the web (www.sprint.com) and by calling Sprint’s telesales group (1-800-SPRINT1). With the new Palm Pixi phone, and Palm Pre at a lower price, Palm and Sprint are bringing greater choice of Palm webOS phones to a larger audience.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos and video are available from Palm’s media gallery at www.palm.com/mml.

Please add the tag #Palm #Pixi to your tweets or “Palm Pixi” to your blog posts about the all-new Palm Pixi phone running on Palm webOS, and follow Palm on Twitter at www.twitter.com/palm.

(1) Within wireless coverage area only. Email, mobile number, and related information required for setup and activation. Required data plan not included; unlimited plan strongly recommended.
(2) Limitations apply. Layered calendars and linked contacts for Outlook require Exchange ActiveSync and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2 or later, sold separately.
(3) Within wireless coverage area only.
(4) Performance varies based upon actual usage.
(5) Third-party software available separately. Within wireless coverage area only.
(6) Compatible with iTunes 8.2.1 on Windows XP/Vista and Mac OS X version 10.3.9-10.5.7. Within wireless coverage area only. Music sold separately. Please respect copyright laws when downloading music.
(7) “Dependable” based on independent, third-party drive tests for 3G data connection success, session reliability and signal strength for the top 50 most populous markets from Jan. ’08 to Feb. ’09. Not all services available on 3G and coverage may default to separate network when 3G unavailable.
(8) Coverage not available in all areas at all times.
(9) Outlook requires Exchange ActiveSync and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2 or later, sold separately.
(10) Storage estimate subject to change based on system software and application usage.


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— Google HR executive Laszlo Bock, telling the New York Times’ Adam Bryant that the company no longer asks applicants to complete mental gymnastics during job interviews. Via Quartz.