Ups and Downs for Palm - The UpStream

Ups and Downs for Palm

posted Sunday Feb 28, 2010 by Scott Ertz

Ups and Downs for Palm

This has been a bitter-sweet week for Palm fans. On the positive side, WebOS 1.4 hit this weekend (Saturday morning for Sprint and Sunday morning for Verizon), adding some much-needed feature enhancements. On the bad side, so did some preliminary numbers for this quarter.

WebOS 1.4 was a bit of an overhaul on what we think about when we think of the WebOS. Everything from the application load screen to the Memos application were altered. A lot of the changes involve adding interoperability to the apps, like clicking a phone number in a memo to call the number, etc. However, there are a few big changes to the way it works. A new application does not go full-screen until it finishes loading, so users know why they cannot use it yet. Also, you can change the alert sounds for each event, as opposed to one alert sound for all events. The most important addition, however, is video. You can now record video and then edit it right on the phone. The edit feature is similar to that on the iPhone, without the lag some users experience when the phone tries to re-render the preview images.

On the other hand, Palm announced this week that sales will not be quite as good as they had predicted for this quarter. In fact, despite launching the new flagship devices on Verizon, they are now anticipating the same sales this quarter as last, somewhere in the $300 million range. They attribute this almost entirely to Verizon's inability to market. I think I would have to agree with that. Somehow Verizon decided that they should market the Pre as a mom phone. Obviously, this has not served them well and all of that advertising has since been pulled. It did, however, impact Palm significantly. This is probably why they decided to have Sprint as their launch partner instead of Verizon.

We all know from Apple that marketing is what makes a product successful, not the quality of the product. In this case, however, it seems like it is working the opposite direction - even though you have a great product, marketing can still kill you. Palm will try and rectify this issue the only way they can, by placing brand ambassadors in a number of Verizon Wireless stores across the country. They hope to change the hearts and minds of the employees, if not the customers, getting them to offer the new Palm phones to people the commercials and internal Verizon advertising has not indicated as a target customer.

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