Why should you buy a Palm ?

Look up at the Palm Pre spec sheet and see that it has a touch screen, full keyboard, Wi-Fi, GPS and a 3 megapixel camera, but the sterile numbers don’t really tell you everything you want to know.

Beyond the specs, who is the phone a good fit for? Who should be giving it a hard look? I talked to people who have been handling them – mobile device analysts – and asked them who will want a Pre.

Social Butterflies. A standout feature that sets the Pre apart is its ability to manage contacts and calendars. Social networkers may have contacts spread all over the Web; the Pre consolidates them. Start typing a name, and the contact info from Exchange, Outlook, Google and Facebook shows up in one place. Same with calendars. The feature isn’t just useful to twittering teens (especially since Pre’s price, $200 with a two-year contract of at least $70 a month, may be a bit high for most teens). “Social networking is no longer isolated to the 18 and under bracket,” said Andy Castonguay, a Yankee Group analyst. “One of the largest user groups is young mothers, because the demands of raising a child and keeping in touch with all of your friends and sharing all those, ahem, important photos, it’s the easiest way.” It also makes the phone a good choice for small business owners whose life and work tend to overlap.

Multi-Taskers. The Pre can run more than one application at a time. So if you want to listen to Pandora Internet radio while texting or e-mailing, you can. “It is true that on many other phones you can multi-task, but it’s not always easy to jump to the app you are looking for, and none of them do it as easily and elegantly as you can on the Pre,” said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis.

Heavy Internet Users. “Sprint has a data network that is a better network, it’s a faster network,” said Mark Lowenstein, managing director of Mobile Ecosystem. “Using the Internet on the Pre is a better experience today than on the iPhone, it’s faster.” People who avoided the iPhone because they distrusted AT&T might finally have a phone.

Sprint or Palm Users. “If you are on Sprint it’s almost a no-brainer. If you have an older Palm device running windows or Palm mobile, it’s a very strong update,” said Mr. Greengart.

It’s not good for people who need a phone that links to a Blackberry enterprise server at work – it can’t sync up (for now at least). It’s not for App Store lovers. The Pre will debut with a limited selection of apps. The phone isn’t overly complex, but it isn’t as simple and intuitive as the iPhone.

If you have an idea about others who might want it or those who wouldn’t, share it in a comment.