Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mobile: Remembering the Palm Pre and Timing

First, let me say that I’m not sure anyone is all that concerned about what RIM is going to do with Blackberry 10.  As a mobile fan, I like to see it take a few shots at Apple and Google from a competitive perspective.  I want Blackberry to thrive again.  I mention all this because, well, remember when the Pre was released and how excited everyone was?

Yeah, not many remember Palm, the Pilot, or, especially, the Pre now but it was huge news at the time when the newly energized Palm packed with former Apple executives and engineers were ready to go head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone.  At the time, Apple had the iPhone 3G on the market for about six months and Palm’s Pre was fresh.

And WebOS made Apple’s iPhone OS (wasn’t called iOS yet I think) looked antiquated. In some respects, WebOS is even more innovative than iOS 6 is now.  And let's not forget, the Pre had a physical keyboard.

Great timing.  Sure, it’s great timing as far as setting up a media event for the unveiling of the Pre and WebOS.  Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only thing Palm did right.  See, the Pre would not go on sale until June.  To be exactly, June 9th.  Going up against the iPhone 3G, right?

Well, just a day before the Pre went on sale, Apple announced the iPhone 3GS and the new iPhone stormed onto the market with 1 million sold in its first weekend.

Ah, timing.

Well, I think Apple’s competitors since have learned about timing.  Samsung has never released a device around the time Apple does.  I think Samsung is the smartest of the bunch.  Ask Microsoft about Zune release timing - all releases save one went up against the iPod.  Ask Google and Motorola about Xoom going up against the iPad 2.  No one walks about the Xoom no more.

Imagine what it would have been like had Palm released the Pre for sale months before the 3GS when its competitors was the 7-, 8-, or even 9-month old iPhone 3G.

The reason I’ve decided to touch on this now is because Pre could have been a contender the way Galaxy is now.  And for 2013, new hardware and mobile features aside, timing is going to be critical for those looking to solidify their positions in the mobile market and those looking for a second act.  Or a third act.

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