Market research firm Interpret recently made some discoveries about public perception of smartphones that should shock, surprise, and amaze you. The just released report, dubbed "Signature Smartphones: Gaining Mindshare in Order to Gain Market Share," reveals that despite being massively disadvantaged in the marketplace, Palm managed to nab a huge chunk of mindshare with the Pre -- in fact, the report suggests that the Pre is number two only to the iPhone 3GS in the metric. The study looks at the driving factors behind purchaser's decisions to buy a smartphone, narrowing down the list to three major components: belief that the phone is "smart," belief that the phone is "hip / cool," and belief that the phone will make them more productive. Rating a swath of phones (BlackBerry Curve and Storm, G1, iPhone), the report found that only the iPhone and Pre balanced the three factors in a way in which consumers felt the higher price tags were warranted. More to the point, only the Pre and the iPhone 3GS managed to strike that balance at all; offerings such as the two BlackBerrys were lopsided. There's not much more meat to the study, though it does shed some interesting light on just how Palm managed to squeeze its way back into the limelight (of course, it doesn't hurt to have a product that's actually kind of cool). Check out the whole PDF for yourself over at that read link.
Disclosure: Engadget columnist Michael Gartenberg is an employee of Interpret, and worked on the study cited above.