Can Palm come back from the Dead?

By now, everyone has heard about the hype of Spring 2009, the Palm Pre. The release is finally confirmed to be taking place on June 6. Many are asking, can the device possibly live up to the glowing reviews?

Let’s look at this from a slightly different angle–I think it’ll be fascinating either way. Look at the amount of brand publicity Palm has gotten out of this device! For a company that became a household name ten years ago with the Palm Pilot line of products, it’s been a rough ten years watching that name fade in its influence until it was practically swallowed whole by Apple when the iPhone was released. I think this is one of the contributing factors to why the Pre is getting so much pub, but there are a couple of others:

– people who think Apple needs a solid competitor in the consumer space
– perceived quality of the WebOS “card” UI
– need for a new “story” to fill the pages of technology blogs
– Palm loyalists who want to get away from Windows Mobile
– everyone loves an underdog

Yes, I’m stretching here. I’m not exactly sure what is really motivating all this attention. I really think it’s blog filler–I’ve had two Palm devices over my lifetime and own one now (the 800w), which sadly I’m contractually committed to until June 2010, but I’m definitely a late adopter. I’m still waiting to see if that whole “computer” thing is going to take off.

One thing Palm is actually doing right is involving developers early, to jump start the “app store” concept. Palm recruited a bunch of developers to have a look at the OS and got impressive feedback. Developers are already organizing BarCamp-like PreDevCamp events to collectively organize and learn to develop for the new OS. So part of the seed behind the hype is winning over the geek squad.

Still, this won’t succeed if it only wins over the technical folks. Simply put, this product must win over the consumer–and that battle starts June 6. has already begun.


~ by John Peltier on May 19, 2009.

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