CES 2010: Palm news, Motorola news and more

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Motorola has fully embraced the Android platform and have introduced several phones based on the Android platform.  As has been customary with Android, Motorola is putting its own spin on the user experience by incorporating Blur, Motorola’s social and data sync platform.  Like Palm’s Synergy, Blur will interface with Google Calendar, GMail, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social nets.  The Backflip phone, Moto’s newest Android phone, has a passing resemblance to the iPhone but, unlike that phone, this one has a real keyboard.  It is also a multitasker and sports a 3.1 inch HVGA touch screen.

“Since introducing our first MOTOBLUR-based device, we’ve remained focused on differentiating the Android experience and bringing it to new carrier partners around the globe,” said Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola and CEO of Motorola Mobile Devices. “BACKFLIP maximizes the multi-tasking and multi-functional potential of MOTOBLUR with its unique design elements, making it as smart as it is social.”

The phone will be available in Q1 of 2010.

Palm made a ton of announcements at CES.  Among them are availability of Pre Plus and Pixi Plus at the end of January on Verizon.  The two ‘plus’ phones will PalmPixi have features that the current Sprint versions will not have.  Pre gets 16gb of memory and loses the nav button on the front.  Pixi will gain Wi-Fi and more colored backs.

webOS 1.4 will be releasing, over the air, in February. For Pre, it will include Adobe Flash 10.1 and both devices will finally get video recording with options to upload the video to online services like YouTube as well as MMS.

Palm also announced the immediate availability of 3D games for the Pre from companies like Electronic Arts and Gameloft.  EA was well represented with titles like the Sims 3, Tetris, Rock Band and Need For Speed Underground (which, by the way, is awesome.)  The games were developed using yet another software development kit from Palm called the ‘Plug-in Development Kit’ and it, essentially, is a wrapper for sophisticated C++ code that can access the low level GPU and CPU functions of the hardware.  Finally, Pre can compete with other devices for a slice of the mobile game market.  Palm plans to make the PDK available to all developers ‘soon’.

Other things announced include a ‘Wi-Fi hotspot’ feature that allows up to five devices to connect to the phone and use it to access the Internet. This is akin to the MIFi devices offered by Sprint and Verizon.  Palm also announced a bonus program for developers of popular applications.  Developers can receive bonuses of up to $100,000 (US), a pretty sweet deal.

Palm is serious about these devices and today’s announcements prove that.  At some point this year, the Pre and Pixi will be available on three carriers in the US and others around the planet, including SFR in France.  AT&T will be getting the devices in addition to Sprint and Verizon.

2010 is going to be a tremendous year for Smartphones.  Between Motorola, Palm and HTC, there are going to be some very difficult choices to make.  If I had to go buy one right now, I’d be hard-pressed to pick one.  Motorola has the more exciting phones, with the Droid, BackFlip and the Cliq while HTC had a couple of nice Android and at least one exciting Windows Phone, the HD2.  Palm’s Pre and Pixi are getting better and better.  All in all, it’s a tough choice.  Add in the iPhone and your head will explode.  It almost makes me excited to see just what Apple has planned for its phone.   Almost.

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