I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

I want the Pre to succeed, but I don’t want one.

Why I don’t want one is straightforward and boring: I’m heavily invested in the iPhone platform, and Palm’s usual product shortcomings (hardware quality and design, reliability, fit and finish, battery life) are important to me. I’m also not interested in using Sprint, although that’s moot once there’s a Verizon EVDO version next year.

But I really want the Pre to be a long-term success. I don’t think it will “beat” the iPhone, nor do I want it to, but it can serve a very important role in the meantime.

Before the Pre, the smartphone market was pretty straightforward:

Left untouched, the G1 provides some pressure from geeks and the Blackberry from salesmen, but the iPhone has a big chunk of the new sales, positive press, and good developers all to itself.

But based on initial reviews, it looks like the Pre will stack up nicely:

This is important because Apple’s ecosystem of developers and users really needs the competition, and I don’t see strong competition coming from anyone else. I do see it coming from the Pre, especially once there’s a Verizon Pre.

With strong competition, Apple will be forced to aggressively innovate in both hardware and software. And now, with a strong competitor, third-party apps will play a big role in the iPhone platform’s lock-in.

It’s in Apple’s best interest to keep developers writing the best and the most apps exclusively for the iPhone. And that means they’ll have to make the App Store less frustrating, obtuse, and capricious.

The results will benefit both developers and users.

And that’s why the Pre’s success is important: Apple needs a kick in the ass every now and then to keep producing great products.