AdAge recently noted that if Palm wasn’t careful, its new Pre handset ran the danger of bumping up against the next model(s) of Apple’s iPhone. While we don’t know for sure when an iPhone refresh is coming, it’s a safe bet that all will be revealed in mid-June at Apple’s developers conference. More concerning to me is something we pointed out on a recent podcast: There’s a head-scratching lack of marketing for the Pre. We’re talking about a company that desperately needs a handset hit, as the venerable Palm OS devices have a meager 2-3 percent of the global smartphone market.
The Pre received plenty of (well-deserved) positive press at the Consumer Electronics Show all the way back in January, and having seen the actual device a few times since then, I can verify its buzz-worthiness. But I’m a bona fide “gadget geek,” and as much as I’d like to think otherwise, we “gadget geeks” are just a small part of the overall consumer handset market. We’re easy targets for Palm, even without any advertising. But what about mainstream consumers, the people Sprint and Palm need to reach out to most?
When I mention the Pre to my father, my neighbors or my kids, they have no idea what I’m talking about. Actually, my 11-year-old son does since, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He and I both know that the clock is ticking. Palm has always maintained that it will launch the Pre in the first half of 2009, and that’s only nine weeks away. Any more delay and there simply won’t be enough time remaining for Palm to win over folks like my father and my neighbors.
Lately, I’ve seen Sprint’s several “Now Network” ad spots on television, the web and in print, but these only offer a glimpse of the Pre and the device name, brand and unique features are absent. I also recently received e-mail information about the phone, but that’s only because I knew to sign up for it in the first place. That note suggested that I share the info on Twitter and Facebook, but even if I did, that’s simply not enough for a blockbuster launch. Although Sprint is likely to help with marketing, Palm hasn’t stepped up to the table to share this potential-filled device with the masses as of yet.
I’m no poker player, but from a marketing perspective at this date and time, I’d be “all in” with a pair of Pres, regardless of when Apple calls the bet with a new handset.