Saturday, January 26, 2008

Palm going... going...

Palm closing retail stores, paying out Treo owners | One More Thing - CNET

Yes, this is somewhat sad news but not entirely unexpected.  As I (and many other's) have been saying for the past few years, Palm has not really shown a  clear, cohesive vision of what a mobile product can really be and keep pushing forward on that agenda. They've been supplanted by other products (Blackberry, iPhone, even Windows mobile - to a degree) that have embraced an effort to really create a good mobile product OS. 

Palm's OS used to be really cool.  And there were always people developing cool new apps for it - in those days Palm had all the potential and vision in the world.  When they bought (back) Handspring, and focused their business on the Treo, they showed a dedication and direction that signaled the real fusion of PDA and cell phone.  They were essentially the only PDA manufacturer that came from the direction of first making PDAs as opposed to cell phones to create a great product with the Treo. (Consider the 2nd in line was the hp iPaq.)

But Palm did not innovate.  And they did not embrace a real quality standard for web browsing on the thing, or integrate wifi, sync services with web providers, etc. etc. etc. I could go on but basically, they had a great opportunity to best out the iPhone well before the iPhone came out but didn't.  They could have focused on making the Palm OS better.  They could have built Wifi into the thing (instead of waiting to release it on the T|X).  They could have focused on building truly good social apps that would take advantage of broadband services. 

Then there was the Foleo fiasco.  It certainly wasn't a great business move to announce that the product was getting pulled one day before it was to be on the market.  Were there concerns about quality control?  Concerns about the public embracing this thing?  How was the OS different from the Garnet Palm OS?  I guess we'll never know too much about the thing but apparently from a business perspective, it was believed that the losses from releasing the foleo would have been worse than not releasing it - that's the only reason to do so.  Doesn't bode well.

So what's next for Palm?  Good question.   The centro does seem to be a pretty good product and reportedly, that's where Palm intends to spread more of their resources.  It's not an iPhone killer.  Clearly not business targeted to go after Blackberry's market share, the Centro has potential as a "Smartphone-lite" type product that would be good with kids, college students, and basically the consumer niche that has more social than business needs for it.  And social networking is HUGE right now.  Despite the (still) lack of wifi, palm could really get a boost if the embraced developing social app connections for it.  Say, a live wikipedia connection to get info at any time.  Or improvements in integrating mobile messaging with im, facebook, twitter, or any other social app.  How about GPS?  Media streaming?  I like the media bar that flock puts in it's browsers.  Anyone ever though of doing he same with photos on a smartphone?  C'mon people, the opportunities are out there....

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