All Quiet on the Palm Front

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.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

How To Clean Up the Mobile OS Mess

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