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Palm’s Woes Point to the Need for the Total Package

by Van Baker  |  February 25, 2010  |  Comments Off on Palm’s Woes Point to the Need for the Total Package

Palm revealed that its Pre and Pixi models are not selling as well as they had hoped and that revenue will fall well below expectations. So what is wrong with Palm? It has a very good user interface that is similar to Android which is selling well. They have the advantage that Apple has of controlling the entire hardware and software platform.  This should add up to success but clearly it hasn’t. The lack of the Pre’s success points to some critical mistakes that Palm made. First they announced so far in advance of actually shipping the product that they diluted the positive buss that they created at the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 2009. But the company should have been able to recover from this. Second, they launched with Sprint which is a declining network that is losing rather than gaining customers and suffers from being perceived as a small carrier in the US market. Palm has tried to address this with the Verizon launch but Palm may have waited too long to do this. Third, the hardware is just too cumbersome to use. For most men the keyboard is just too small to use. This is certainly true if you have large hands. Palm is not unique here as other manufacturers are guilty of this in selected smartphones as well. Additionally the need to go back and forth between the touchscreen and the keyboard mandates two handed usage at time and that is not the most consumer friendly approach. The feature that was supposed to differentiate the Pre from the iPhone may actually be a detractor due to this issue. Lastly, Palm just did not have the financial resources available to promote the Pre effectively. Most if not all of these shortcomings could have been offset by an aggressive marketing campaign but Palm lacked the resources to implement this. The struggles of the Pre point to the need for manufacturers to bring the total package in today’s competitive smartphone market.

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Tags: consumer-electronics  iphone  palm  pre  smartphone  

Van L. Baker
Research VP
20 years at Gartner
29 years IT industry

Van Baker is a vice president and research director for Gartner's Retail and Manufacturing Industry Advisory Services. He covers consumer behavior as it relates to electronic commerce and emerging Web 2.0 technologies in the retail industry. Read Full Bio




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