Radical Simplicity

A complete website re-design launching with the Palm Pre, along with marketing for the Palm Pre launch. A completely new direction for Palm. A new way to think about mobile technology.

In 2008, the mobile phone was just getting started, and although it was obvious that it would change everything in the world of technology, it wasn’t as immediately obvious how it might affect everyday life, or how to market it as a lifestyle product.

We took the phone outside. At the time, Apple’s pared-down, austere technology-feature focus with iPhone was the Palm Pre’s primary counterpoint. Samsung, Nokia, et al, paired glossy product with cheesy lifestyle photography to convey use cases in a tone that resonated with no one.

Our blend of product and lifestyle removed the mannequin hands and actor-models, painting usage scenarios as simply as possible. Using the photographed environment as life context, the scenario isn't forced, but implied, fitting the deferential ethos underpinning the Pre and WebOS design. This simplification lets the viewer project herself into the scene.

Palm Pre was a product intended to fit itself into moments in your life, deferring to you. Its hardware was inspired by river stones: smooth and natural, worn to go with the flow of the stream.

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For the older handset models Palm was still selling, the rich imagery helped distract from the product’s painful obsolescence.

The big reveal

John Rubinstein and Mathias Duarte announced the Palm Pre and WebOS on January 4, 2009.

The website launched that day and the tech press went wild. Expectations for the company were low, nobody was paying much attention. Suddenly there was something to get excited about besides the latest from Apple. Suddenly there was something that felt very new.

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