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Hands Off with the Palm Pre

Hands Off with the Palm Pre

Of all the phones available to handle, play with, test, poke and prod here at CTIA, the one most conspicuously absent is the one that most techies and analysts would most like to get their hands on: the Palm Pre. The phone is nowhere to be found on the main show floor.

Though Sprint’s invite-only VIP Lounge serves up cold drinks, sushi and comfy couches, it does not serve up hands on impressions of the Palm Pre – though there are plenty here. The company has been careful to place them only in the iron grip of its trained exhibitors, who will show you many of the same features we saw at CES, but little more besides a handful of third-party apps. What’s going on?

Sprint reps explained to a fellow griping tech journalist that the phone was still in development, and that its presenters had been trained “for days” to be able to handle it. But nearly four months after CES (and closing quickly on the oft-quoted “first half of 2009” launch deadline,) that’s still pretty hard to believe.

More likely, it’s all show. By barring the Pre from the eyes of unwashed masses in a secure room, putting it up on alligator-skin podiums (literally), and keeping it out of anybody else’s hands, Palm is building hype for this thing unmatched by pretty much anything since the iPhone. And we suspect it’s all strategic.

And just as likely, after seeing it in person, it’s justified, too. This is one incredible-looking phone by all (very groomed) first impressions.

So we’re on to your game, Palm. But we’ll play anyway.