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Summary:

Anybody noticed how quiet it is on the Palm front? The time for incremental changes at Palm is over. No more minor updates to the phones or incremental updates to webOS. It’s time to shake things up if Palm intends to make a run as survival.

Pre thumb

Anybody noticed how quiet it is on the Palm front? It seems we only hear anything about Palm and webOS when financial results get announced, and that’s never good news. Palm is in trouble by anyone’s reckoning, yet they are as quiet as can be. This is not a good strategy for Palm, but I’m afraid they are quiet because they have nothing to say. The Pre and Pixi haven’t sold in numbers to make a positive effect on the bottom line, and that’s not going to change.

The Sprint affiliation didn’t buy Palm much in the long run, and the carrier’s major marketing blitz behind the upcoming EVO with Android demonstrates clearly the webOS love is gone. Palm didn’t help its partnership with Sprint at all with the exclusive deal with Verizon, a desperate act to move handsets with the larger carrier. That hasn’t panned out with Verizon firmly in bed with Android, as the campaign behind the Droid and the buzzing about the Nexus One demonstrates.

Palm is going to bring its webOS phone line to AT&T, but that carrier is not going to make a splash with them either. AT&T is not about to upset the Apple cart for Palm, especially since sales numbers of Palm phones are not setting the world on fire. It’s just going to get worse for Palm, as sales numbers keep underwhelming analysts even with several U.S. carriers selling for them.

The time for incremental changes at Palm is over. No more minor hardware updates to the phones. No more incremental updates to webOS. This strategy has failed and it’s time to shake things up if Palm intends to make a serious run at survival.

How about if Palm announced the next major update to webOS, 2.0, would add support for larger slate devices? The webOS system would be outstanding on a tablet, and such an announcement would send the techerati into overdrive. That’s the kind of excitement Palm desperately needs, as long as they make good on such an announcement.

If Palm can’t produce a slate itself, maybe it should take on a partner. I suggest HTC, as they are often willing to jump on new things and they have the ability to make magic happen. Look what they’ve done with Android. Palm better do something unexpected this year, or the party may indeed be over.

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  1. Here’s an interview with Palm CEO Jon Rubenstein, dated 4-8, laying it all out.
    http://brainstormtech.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2010/04/08/palm-ceo-puts-his-cards-on-the-table/

    Also, Palm stock shot up 20% yesterday.

    There is plenty still to come from Palm.

  2. you have to remember…Palm was the first to see the netbook craze with the Foleo. I was fortunate to have tested the device and it was really nice. It was a few years ahead of its time. I think they need to bring it back…Foleo 2 with webos. A multi-tasking netbook like device with the webos would really work. Add wireless and 3G to the mix and I would buy one. (if they could keep the data costs down)
    I think palm needs to reinvent themselves before they are just a dog eared page in the book of failed tech companies.

  3. Ellen Sweeney Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Palm certainly is playing their cards close the vest. Jon Rubenstein didn’t give anything away in the article. I hope they can come up with something fantastic. I would hate to see them go away. I still love my Palm Pre and would love to see a tablet device from Palm.
    Ellen

  4. Palm stock “shot up” due to a bogus takeover rumor and subsequent short squeeze. It had nothing to do with the actual or anticipated performance of the company.

  5. As we all (well most) predicted the WebOS is not going to save Palm and they will be acquired within the next 3 months. I bet on RIM or yet another Nokia turn-around.

    Tal

  6. I’ve been thinking about Palm and webOS. They need to license it out and get more manufacturers using it. They should make a QT port for it so they can get all the apps that will come along with the QT bandwagon. They really can’t do what Apple did and produce 1 product and keep all the hardware and software to themselves alone and be profitable. Also, they need to focus on GSM first. That might limit them in the USA but it opens them up in the world. One really great device that people can buy unlocked if they don’t want to be forced into a carrier subsidy

  7. Palm licensing webOS would be the end of Palm. There’s no way they could make enough money in licensing fees to survive (especially against Google/Android, which is free), not to mention the debacle caused by licensing PalmOS / Garnet lead to the stagnation that got them in this mess in the first place.

    As for why Palm hasn’t announced anything yet, they’re not in a position where they can do anything to jeopardize sales of current devices.

    Getting free Mobile Hotspot for all Verizon users isn’t big enough of an announcement for you, anyway?

    A webOS tablet would be a bad idea at this point. The OS just isn’t ready for something like that, and it’d distract too much from what they need to be focusing on.

    Palm is also sponsoring a “Developer Day” at the end of the month, which should help get some more apps.

    Oh, and someone already ported QT to it with no issue. It’s in Preware.

    1. James Kendrick Joe Thursday, April 8, 2010

      I may be mistaken but I’m not sure Android is free if it comes with Google branding.

      1. I might be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure Android can be modified and the Google parts taken off the OS

      2. Not free? Didn’t you guys just recently report that Google PAYS device makers for using Android? ;)

        http://jkontherun.com/2010/03/25/why-is-the-android-logo-green-revenue-sharing/

    2. I read about the QT port and it is not officially sanctioned by Palm so even though it can be done, it isn’t “legit”. As far as the free mobile hotspot, that should have been a feature from day 1. Palm has to sell their devices to the carriers first and I can’t seem them being a “number 1″ smartphone on any carriers list. If they can accept being mid-range device then maybe they have a chance.

      1. And, as has been mentioned earlier in a comment, they can’t really afford to pre-announce stuff as it would kill of current sales.

  8. Given their earnings call and difficulty moving product, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reorg and layoffs to make them more appealing for additional investment or an acquisition. However, It’s also probably safe to assume webOS 2.0 and new hardware are in the pipeline for later this year.

  9. Here in France, we are waiting for the Palm Pre to come, and SFR (telecom operator like Verizon) organized a dev contest for the promotion. Have a look (in French) http://www.sfrjtd.fr/content/accueil
    Palm is not dead for french… not yet ;)

  10. You might be living in a rock. If you haven’t followed the polls, Palm Pre Plus was voted as the Champion over all the smartphones in the current market today. It succeeded over the Blackberry and Droid smartphones…iPhone didn’t even get a chance on the second round.

    Although you may have your own opinion about the Palm Pre, it’s clear that this poll demonstrates and signifies an overwhelming support from consumers. Meanwhile, most of what’s getting a lot of buzz on technology news today is about how HP Slate is a better tablet than the iPad.

    Palm shouldn’t try getting into the tablet market either…HP Slate looks solid and has everything pretty much covered.

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