The concern sprang up after developer Joey Hess dug through webOS and figured out the iPhone rival was transmitting data to Palm once a day. This data includes a Pre user's location, which application they're using, the app crash logs, and which apps users have installed.
This type of data collection is relatively common, as Mac OS and Windows can also report back to their respective companies when apps crash, and mobile operators can also gather location data for network-quality purposes. But even the appearance of a privacy violation could hurt Palm's chances of making a comeback in the smartphone space.
The touch-screen Pre was introduced with much fanfare earlier this year as a Sprint exclusive handset, and the operating system has received praise for its ability to bring various Web services into a single finger-friendly interface. Although the handset broke Sprint sales records, most analysts estimate there have been only a few hundred thousand units sold since its June release. By contrast, Apple's iPhone 3GS sold one million units in its launch weekend.
Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).