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A thread in our TreoCentral forums points to a very interesting discussion on the lack of microSD on the Palm Pre. Forum member nlowhor found the discussion over at a Facebook discussion group. The Official Palm Blog posted a profile this week on Matt Crowley, a Palm Product Manager. At the end of the article, there is a link to a Facebook discussion board. Matt is answering questions there, and one of the questions asked was 'why the Palm Pre doesn't have expanded storage/a microSD slot'.

Matt responds:

‘Design’ was the highest goal on the Palm Pre project. The phone has to look and function great in the hand and up against the face on a call. The decision to include or not include expandable storage is an easy one when design is the highest priority. The physical size of the device would have been compromised if we added another physical component to Pre. Just a millimeter can seriously impact the curvature of the design in a way that minimizes the design intent. We wanted to maintain a slick curved slider design without building out too much thickness. When you look at the two parts of the product and see how thin they really are, you may be amazed that we were able to fit everything in. And yes, all the stuff does fit.

The other advantage of embedded memory is that you have a large amount of storage out of the box for media and files. Including 8GBs of storage on the phone is a large amount of storage for many people, but not all. Yes, not all. We know that not everyone will be happy, but that is one of many decisions that needs to be made and the product goals help define these decisions.

Matt adds that "The Internet is a BIG microSD card". He talks about "Synergy" and how you can pull content to your device over the air. Palm talked about Synergy in their Pre demonstration at CES and how great it is to not have to worry about tracking multiple calendars, contacts and messaging applications because the Pre syncs calendar and contacts data to the cloud.

Of course there is an interesting discussion going on in our forums regarding Matt Crowley's responses.

For example, forum member jmg_P1OS21 says:

I have a 16GB SHDC and I only ever have less than 1GB (if that) ever free...

no room for a MicroSD? Where will they find the room for a SIM card on a GSM Pre?
(I would not care if it's underneath the battery, it would be a PITA and NOT ideal in such a nicely thought out Pre design though...)

And forum member schnoid responds to jmg_P1OS21's post:

That's exactly what I was thinking! microSD is soooo small and it could fit in a quarter the space of a sim card. For all i care, they could include microSD on the CDMA model and not include it on the GSM model. If someone really needs microSD they can go to sprint. I'm still whole heartily think that Palm left out for the same reason iphone does. They're banking on the fact that people will buy a 16GB, 32GB, etc model of the same phone. Sure it might be a good marketing scheme, but its really annoying for those of us that have come to really appreciate a sd/miniSD/microSD slot on our phones. Please palm, if you read this, don't turn into apple! I think the Pre will be revolutionary but there is still so much you'll be able to do for future phones like video conferencing.

Forum member Gameboy70 says:

I remember an interview with Jeff Hawkins talking about designing smartphones for multiple carriers. One of the chief design guidelines is that devices look and feel the same whether they're GSM or CDMA. The innards of the GSM and CDMA versions can be radically different. As long as they have the same exterior and specs, the carriers are happy.

In other words, Palm might have been able to put the microSD slot in the CDMA version but not the GSM one, due to the SIM card requirement. If that's true, the GSM version determined the size of the CDMA version, but Palm chose to omit the microSD slot on both platforms for consistency's sake.

I have an SD card in all of my Palm smartphones but I don't really have much on any of them.  I have a few songs on a couple of the cards and a backup program on one of them.  I don't watch movies on my Palm smartphones, but use my iPhone for that activity.  The main reason that I chose the 16GB iPhone 3G version was so I'd have room for TV shows and movies from iTunes.   As to the Palm Pre not having a microSD card slot, I'm not too concerned.  For my usage, the included 8GB is plenty enough space.  I can certainly understand the concerns of other Palm smartphone users though, especially those who say that they use almost all of their 8GB and 16GB  storage on their cards.

Anyway, you can read more comments in this TreoCentral forum thread, and you can read the full Facebook discussion here.

Let us know what you think about the Pre not having a microSD card slot and what you think about Matt Crowley's response.