Palm: Too little way, way too late

Palm announced less than expected earnings

This morning we announced preliminary results for our 2010 third quarter. Since the quarter has not yet closed, it is too soon to offer exact numbers, but we stated that we expect to report revenues for Q3 between and million. We also announced that we expect our revenue for this fiscal year to fall below the guidance we gave to Wall Street, which ranged from .6 to .8 billion. As we mentioned in our press release, our softer than expected performance is due to slower than expected customer adoption of our products,

Palm had a good thing going. I really liked my (second-hand) Palm 3.0. I used handbase and has some useful databases for clinical work. I even had a few BASIC programs. I loved having all my contacts with me, because I would invariably need a phone number I did not remember or for longer trips, address for promised post cards. Contacts and notes were kept in sync with Palm desktop.

The best part of the the whole system was that there were so many little programs and games to try. It was not unlike the explosion of software in Apple’s App store.

Then the Palm 3.0 died suddenly at the Bangalore airport after playing one last game. So I bought a HandSpring Visor. I loved that little green box. I was more substantial than the Palm and was faster. I had dreams of adding a GPS unit and and EKG unit.

But Windows was pushing their mobile platform, and Palm felt the heat. Rather than concentrate on the one market the held captive, they decided to announce that they would no longer support desktop syncing for Macs. I really did not like Palm that day. The Visor began to act a little flakey. It would never turn on consistently. This did not inspire a lot of confidence. I took a look at the Sony Clie. But, not company – Palm, Handspring or Sony had a product that was not expensive, was completely reliable and fully supported Mac OS. It was with a heavy heart that I abandoned my overpriced green box.

In September I bought an iPod touch. The display was brighter and sharper than the black and white screen of the Visor and the Palm before it. I had music, internet and email and (nearly) seamless syncing. I bought the iPod because Handbase was coming out with a version for iPod/iPhone. When Palm came out with the Pre I was not even tempted.

I was fed up with:

  • High prices
  • Under performing and flakey hardware
  • Inconsistent support for Mac OS X ( I found it ironic that Palm was touting iTunes syncing)

What I missed with the iPod touch was a user replaceable battery. Although the iPod/iPhone is a visual delight, I dread the thought of trying to get a new battery when the time comes. I do not think it sends the right message to toss the product because the battery will no longer hold a charge.

I think Palm got everything it deserved though. Palm had a really good platform with some innovative programs. But it squandered away that capital by going head to head with Windows and ignored any Mac users who would have supported the platform.

The hardware they provided did not seem to have any longevity at least in my hands. It made it hard to trust my data to the devices with any confidence. Now, it is catchup time for Palm… I really like the iPod touch.


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