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The problem with Palm

By February 26, 2010No Comments3 min read

So Henry Blodget posts yesterday on Silicon Alley Insider a piece “Palm CEO explains to employees why the company is toast,” outlining a few key points from Jon Rubenstein to his troops. The gist of Jon’s points boil down to:

  1. No one wants our products
  2. Carriers won’t buy as many as we had hoped
  3. Product quality stinks
  4. Palm is increasing marketing

Soo in a nutshell, Palm is fucked, and now is scrambling to keep up. Remember Palm is competing DIRECTLY with Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, RIMM’s Blackberry, Nokia SymbianOS, and now Microsoft Windows 7 Mobile. Every one of those competitors has a larger market share than Palm’s WebOS right now, with the sole exception being Windows7Mobile, and solely because it was just announced last week and isn’t in consumer hands yet. So Palm has the largest uphill battle imaginable, and really doesn’t seem to “get it” as far as why they are stinking up the place over there.

If you are going to be building a smartphone platform and hardware for that platform as well, you have to think about how the smartphone market has shifted. It is no longer about how many features your phone can do out of the box with your pre-installed version of tetris, its about how flexible can your phone be based on after-purchase software. So that means you need tons of readily available software out there for people to install. That’s why Apple having 140,000 apps vs your 1,400 or so is a big freaking deal. Apple only had to make a miniscule percentage of those apps on their own too, because they made the tools to build on their platform readily available.

Palm thought they were being totally effing clever when they spouted off about how their WebOS was going to be better because its basically a browser and anyone can program for the web right? Big freaking fail here guys. Sure I can build a thousand apps for the web if I wanted to, but those apps won’t instantly run on my Palm Pre or Pixi, they all have to be converted to run within the constraints of the WebOS. If you’re coming from behind, as Palm clearly is, they need to really incentivize the hell out of building an app for WebOS. Either give a better revenue share, give me a free phone w/free data plan, or pay me to port my apps to WebOS. Palm didn’t even bother supporting the developer community which had jumped at the opportunity to build for the WebOS (palmdevcamp anyone?).

So the only way for Palm to solve the utter lack of apps on their platform is to do the following:

  • Build an iphone->webOS conversion tool to get people 90% of the way there
  • Give out 10,000 Palm Pres to developers and load them up w/$100 worth of data or make them unlocked
  • Pay the top web and iphone and android app developers to come over $10k or more to port an app. – Actually seems like they are trying this w/a $1M bonus payout contest to hot app devs.
  • Get your phones on more than just Sprint. (Seriously who thought that was a good idea? “let’s hedge our livelyhood on the last place carrier selling a ton of our phones”)

I feel like I may have said these things before. oh wait i did. 8 months ago. nothing has improved.