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if (palm + sprint == marketingGenius)



By deans ~ June 1st, 2009. Filed under: Observations, Random Thoughts.

Before I launch into this, I should share some highlights of my long (extremely one-sided) relationship with Palm.

  • I’ve loved the Palm devices since the first moment that I used them.
  • My teams developed some of the earliest Palm/Mac conduits.
  • A surprisingly large number of my career decisions and options since then have been a direct result of the people that I met, and the ideas that I was exposed to, in the early days of working with Palm.
  • I still have one of my Palm Pilots in those special clear bodies hanging around, somewhere.
  • I flew to New York and bought a Palm Vx because they were out of stock in local stores.  I was actually there for meetings, but that was the quickest way for me to get my greedy hands on one of the finest PDA’s ever designed.
  • I still use that Palm Vx, because my life is locked into its To-Do list.
  • I shouldn’t admit this, but I’m faster with Graffiti then I am with the soft keyboard on my iPod touch

My point is, that I’ve always rooted for Palm, even when I haven’t been able to rationalize buying their increasingly irrelevant devices.  When I started hearing about webOS and the new Pre, I was really hopeful that this could be “the Next One” from Palm.  I even applied to get access to their Software Development Kit (no word back from Palm on our application).  It seems like they are really building up momentum for their launch this week, but some strange bits have started filtering into the infostream.

For example, clearly they need the Pre to be a big hit coming out of the starting blocks, so you’d think that all efforts would be focused on getting people to purchase quickly.  Instead of that, the week before the launch, they let word get out that the Pre will be available on the vastly superior Verizon network in roughly six months.  Almost immediately, they’ve limited their early adopters to current Sprint users.  Why switch to Sprint, now, when you can get the device on Verizon (or maybe AT&T, if you’re so inclined) in 6-7 months?  Curious.

There’s another interesting bit that has some in the developer community scratching our collective heads.  At launch, most third party developers will be limited to web programming using CSS and javascript.  As I’ve made quite clear in an earlier post, I firmly believe that the availability of third party apps and an active developer community will be critical to the success of any modern mobile platform.  Apparently, “special partners” have access to the good stuff, but the rest of us riffraff are locked out, at least for the time being.  In light of the explosive success of the App Store, it seems that Apple has set the bar for a third-party app ecosystem pretty high.  It’s hard to see how the early experience with the Pre will even be close.  I don’t accept the arguments that reference the early days of the iPhone.  That was then.  What matters, now, is the competitive environment today.

Oh yeah, and then there’s the bit about syncing with iTunes.  In the absence of their own entertainment source, this seems like critical functionality for the Pre, so imagine my dismay when I read that this may be a hack job that Apple will stamp out pretty quickly.  From the outside, it’s impossible to know what’s really going on at Palm/Sprint.  This seems like desperate times for both, but stunts like this rarely work out well for anyone except publicity-starved startups.  (Update: 2009.07.15 – I guess that “all good things must come to an end.”)

I sincerely hope that the Pre is a runaway success for Palm.  I’d like nothing better than to have a full suite of BluMtnWerx apps running on the Pre and generating boatloads of revenue for us.  When it’s available on Verizon, I may buy one, but the latest revelations are certainly unsettling.

Let’s be very clear.  Apple has set the standard.  Palm/Sprint need to field a clearly superior offering.  We’ll see what happens on Saturday…

 
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1 Response to if (palm + sprint == marketingGenius)

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