Blog Post

Palm Should Go All In With Its Pre Marketing

palm-preAdAge recently noted that if Palm (s PALM) wasn’t careful, its new Pre handset ran the danger of bumping up against the next model(s) of Apple’s (s AAPL) 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 (s 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.

13 Responses to “Palm Should Go All In With Its Pre Marketing”

  1. Bob A

    PALM better have plenty of $ when Apple has it’s IP lawyers rip the Pre a new one. Apple will not tolerate PALM stealing its IP. The announcement of the first lawsuit will cause Palm’s stock to plunge.
    MARK MY WORDS…mark them well !

  2. The Treo line became a disappointment, as did the Centro, because Palm was just resting on their laurels instead of keeping up with the industry. Everyone knows all the amazing things that the iPhone can do, and that a Blackberry can do, but these same people never heard of a Treo, which as been doing these same things for 5+ years. They’ve also heard of the Palm Pilot, which is 14 years old! Awareness needs to be raised, and people need to be targeted. What do the masses want? A phone, a camera, wifi, bluetooth, and internet. Well, it’s hard to find a cell phone that doesn’t have all these things. Palm & Sprint can tout all the fancy new developments that the Palm is capable of, but a majority of people will think to themselves, “What does that do for me?” and therein lies the problem. The ads need to use real world examples, need to show the simplicity of accessing all that power, and make it affordable. Why switch from the iPhone or Blackberry when they can already do all these things? WebOS can do more, and the ads need to exploit that in a way that people can understand, and see it’s usefulness for them personally. The NOW commercials are cool, but certainly don’t make you want to switch to Sprint.

  3. I am currently carrying an unlocked GSM Palm Treo 680 that has worked well for me. My problems are the network (AT/T) and not the phone itself. But as I shop, looking at alternative networks and smart phones, Palm lost me by getting into bed with Sprint. Used to be a Nextel customer back in the day. Worst customer service (nextel) merged with worst coverage area (sprint).

    Justas makes a great point in the requirement of 3rd party servers to feed the Pre much of its content.

  4. Justas Anaside

    Many have incorrectly outright stated that Sprint needs Palm to survive when Sprint is introducing both new phones that AREN’T from Palm as well as the already-mentioned Now Network that literally has nothing to do with Palm. To think Sprint, financially deficient itself, is going to spend huge dollars on advertising the Pre is an interesting conclusion to which to jump.

    Since the Pre is dependent on web-based servers for much of its “uniqueness” and those web-based servers have not EVER been tested with a load of tens of thousands of simultaneous Pre owners updating their Facebook accounts (or whatever), perhaps Palm is taking ti easy w.r.t. marketing to actually limit the client set to early adopters until they betatest said servers.

  5. From their last conference call, it sure sounded like it was going to come down to the wire, as they had some final polishing of the hardware and software, not to mention FCC approval.

  6. spot on
    why on earth SPRINT and PALM are keeping quite ?
    May be there are issues with the phone ?
    Its high time for both these companies to start pushing the commercials

  7. Completely agree. Palm doesn’t have the budget to do blitz marketing now, so that’s going to fall on Sprint’s back. But they’re not going to commit until there’s at least a firm launch date, and likely won’t turn on the faucet until the thing is released. I think it will be a similar ad campaign as the G1 – little to nothing before the launch, but a steady stream of television ads after the debut. It seems to have been a solid strategy, as it sold over a million units in about six months. I expect the Pre to do a bit better because it will have tech heads switching to get it, and Sprint has more existing smartphone users (and a better network) than T-Mobile does.

    Is that enough to have Palm be a viable company? Who knows. But I do have it on a really good authority that the GSM version is already being discussed by AT&T – its just a matter of time.