Friday, March 19, 2010

Palm's Problem: I Don't Know Where To Start

I'm going to to second guess what Rubinstein and others have done at Palm. As a matter of fact, at any other time, against any other foes, I would say Palm had a great chance of changing the dynamics of the mobile market.

In the after hours of trading, Palm tanked about 15%, making its market value under $800 million. Sales fell short and forecast even more so. Things just aren't going well for Palm at the moment. In fact, things are stacked against Palm in just about pretty much every way.

Still, this isn't unlike the days when Apple was on the brink of extinction. The main problem at Palm isn't its technology or products. WebOS is amazing and the Pre is pretty cool, compared even to the iPhone. The problem is that everyone expected the large number of former Apple alumni (execs and engineers) who joined Palm to resurrect Palm the way they did (in their own ways) with Apple.

The fact that this didn't happen is going to be a great case study for business schools all over to dissect and analyze. In executions, there are difference between Apple and Palm. In timing, the Pre went up against the 3GS and Android. And then there was the iTunes fiasco of trying to make iTunes think the Pre is an iPod.

Against the odds, I am hoping that things will turn around for one of the premier mobile companies. It has an unique technical DNA unlike anything else seen at Microsoft, Google, and even, Apple.

Just today, Rubinstein blamed Sprint for some of Palm's woes. I don't know that's how I'd do it, alienating a partner that you still need. I think Palm needs to "think different" about how they want to execute their plans. They've got the OS and hardware that does along with it.

Perhaps, it's time for Palm to be bold in some way. It may need a bigger partner, like HTC or Motorola. Palm can also consider licensing its OS and technology to other companies.

To be sure, it needs to do something. Timing is going to be key with whatever Palm does.

Note: I love to see a WebOS tablet.

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