Blog Post

Will Palm Pre Software Updates Be Free?

palm-preOwners of Apple’s (s AAPL) iPod Touch have grumbled about paying for software updates in the past. I certainly understand their point when they see iPhone owners get free firmware upgrades. I’m no accountant, nor do I play one on the Internet, but the discrepancy between free and pay-for updates is apparently due to accounting methods used by Apple. So what does this have to do with Palm’s (s PALM) Pre? Surely there will be firmware updates and new software features that Palm will want pushed out. The question is: will you have to pay for them?

The Palm WebOS blog says no, and unless they manufactured the internal Palm presentation they’ve posted, there’s good reason to believe them. The documentation shows that Palm will use “subscription accounting” to recognize revenues from webOS products on a monthly basis over 24-months. The documents specifically state:

“Palm plans to periodically provide new software features free of charge to customers of its webOS products, including the recently announced Palm Pre.”

Considering that the Palm webOS and more specifically, the Synergy function, is completely dependent on non-Palm services, this is positive news. Even if you expected it, it’s good to know. Why? What if, for example, Facebook changes their contact APIs and the Synergy engine needs an update or else loses the ability to gain contact updates from Facebook? Considering how fluid the web is these days, I’d want to be sure I don’t have to pay for a software change to keep me in sync. (Thanks for the tip, Rob!)

9 Responses to “Will Palm Pre Software Updates Be Free?”

  1. First, SOX is a massive piece of legislation. You could have 100 accountants read it and get 100 different interpretations on what it means. Apple has chosen a course that says they’ll use subscription accounting to provide free features, and charge (minimally) for the items for which they do NOT do subscription accounting. Other companies may do differently, and I doubt the Feds will come crashing down their doors for SOX violations. I think there’s room for leeway here.

    In my opinion, Palm has little choice in this matter anyway. Apple has set the precedent and customer expectation of free updates with features, and Palm must follow it. They’d be excoriated if they did otherwise. Whether they did so with or without subscription accounting is beside the point.

    The bigger question to me is, how easy will it be to obtain and install the updates? Palm needs to make this a no-brainer.

    • oneAwake

      @ Tom Reestman

      To your last point, Sprint has always made OTA (over the air) updates and installs simple. I have never had a problem downloading and installing updates via Sprints network.

  2. Boca, since Apple is giving unadvertised new features for free, and since Sarbanes Oxley has nothing to say about it I wonder what on earth you are talking about?

  3. Jack B Nimble

    Just a formatting note:
    It was a bit confusing when the headline asks “Will the updates be free?” and about a paragraph down, the answer seems to be in bold: “Palm WebOS blog says no” — but of course, the blog in question is answering the inverse question that is not in bold. Counter intuitive.

    • oneAwake

      Jack is not too nimble on reading, ‘Hey Jack’, put on those reading glasses and do a once over. Here are parts from the top two paragraphs:

      “Surely there will be firmware updates and new software features that Palm will want pushed out. The question is: will you have to pay for them?

      The Palm WebOS blog says no.”

  4. It will be interesting to see if Palm do this for free.
    According to Apple, they cannot do so to iPod or Mac users because of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act supposedly prohibiting Apple from giving away any unadvertised new features for one of its products.

    • Ricky B.

      Apple says that for all the updates they charge for, but they’re lying. Seriously, nobody else charges and there’s no legal trouble; the simple answer is Apple charges because they can, and why not? Free money for them.

      Smart of Palm not to try it, though. Nobody but Apple can get away with that kind of thing. ;)