HP's Palm Pre 2 will be available in France come Friday. Verizon Wireless -- the market-leading partnership of Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) and Vodafone (NYSE: VOD ) -- targets a stateside release in the coming months.
The new smartphone won't be alone. HP is also rolling out a refreshed version of Palm's revolutionary webOS platform. Version 2.0's features include more intuitive grouping of related apps and integration of Adobe's (Nasdaq: ADBE ) latest Flash player.
Despite these cool features, is HP too late to make a difference in the smartphone market? Early adopters have already seen Palm come undone, but HP has the financial and marketing muscle to make consumers forget about its recent acquisition's shortcomings as a stand-alone company. But even mighty HP and its bankroll may not have the power to make webOS 2.0 relevant.
Palm Pre sputtered against what was then a smaller base of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone users. The challenge has only grown, given the more than 14 million iPhone 4 handsets sold in the past three months alone. Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android was just a baby when the Pre hit the market; now it's a beast. Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) finally out this month with its highly anticipated Windows Phone 7.
In other words, webOS failed a year ago against lighter competiton. Can HP make a proprietary platform work in a market where Android and WP7 are easily available to every handset maker and wireless carrier? Are Apple's iOS and BlackBerry's platform too established to tackle head-on? Is the Palm Pre 2 superior enough to the original to make a dent in this booming market?
That's the million-dollar question. Or, going by what HP spent on Palm, the $1.2 billion question.
Do you think Palm Pre 2 and webOS 2.0 have a shot? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.