Palm responds to stimulus

October 6, 2007

My lame attempt at a Centro destroying a Foleo.Palm is in in trouble. Engadget spoke eloquently about this a few weeks ago, and for the most part they were right. Since that and the iPhone explosion, they’ve been showing signs of life.

They showed they’re not brain-dead by killing the Foleo, a $600 companion for your Treo. They instead launched the Centro, a $99 smartphone. They also refinanced debt, sold part of the company, and hired two old Apple execs. Nothing like a market newcomer surpassing you in sales after two months to shake up a 10-year player.

I used to love Palm, but they’ve been a trainwreck for years, similar to how Apple was in the late 90s. Especially 90s-Apple-esque is Palm’s old originally-68k OS that was once innovative but now lame. Both Palm OS and the Treo were awesome when they came out, but Palm has been standing still. Very, very still.

Palm was 2/3 of the way to releasing the iPhone with their LifeDrive - a full-screen PDA focused on multimedia with 4GB of storage. A couple weeks after Apple announced the iPhone, instead of rising the LifeDrive to the occasion, Palm killed it. Palm has been 2/3 of the way to replacing their OS with Linux for years now, but haven’t been close to shipping it on a device since they started working on it in 2004.

An iPhone and a Treo’s home screens to pixel-scale.People like their iPhones and like their iPod touches. Beside them, Palm OS looks like it’s from 1997. Which it is. What Palm needs to do is attack one of Apple’s weaknesses - lack of unlocked phones, high prices, no 3G, no slide-out keypads, no 3rd-party development.

There’s no reason the handheld market should be another Apple vs. Microsoft. People are still buying Treos (Oldguy for example), and before the iPhone came out, Treo sales were rising. Hopefully Palm can salvage this and kick some ass.

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.