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  1. stockh's Avatar
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       #1  
    Before the HP acquisition Palm stated they were aiming for the fat middle of the smartphone market. Fast forward today and that "fat middle" strategy failed miserably and I'm not so sure exactly what would be considered the "fat middle"

    Now that HP/Palm has control do you think HP will be trying to cover all bases with different handsets or concentrating with one maybe two handsets only?

    I for one want multiple webOS handsets to chose from but my gut feeling is we will only see 2 handsets and more webOS "devices" (printers, slates, netbooks, etc...)
  2. #2  
    That's been talked about more than a few times.

    I think the problem was that Palm had trouble describing their "fat middle" target market. McNamee claimed the fat middle was those in the smartphone market, who desire the features of an iphone on one end (media/consumer) and features found on RIM on the other end (enterprise/productivity). The Pre combined the best of both worlds so to speak.

    Others, including Palm again, would define the "fat middle" as that mass of dumbphone users that will come into the smartphone market. I think this is more the popular view. The cellphone market taken as a whole, you got dumbphone users, consumer smartphones, and then enterprise.

    So they wanted the fat middle of the fat middle if that makes any sense :P
  3. #3  
    I don't think the strategy failed, I think the failure was in execution. Too many 'fat middle' features are missing...

    and the 'fat middle' doesn't buy from commercials with creepy girls...
  4. #4  
    From Sprint/Pre launch day lest year up to the ratification of the HP's acquisition, all we were witnessing was the "audition" of an OS that was for sale.

    From the Elevation Partners seed money to the disbursment of HP's purchasing funds; the whole thing was a vehicle for selling the software. They couldn't have cared less about oreos and screen leakage. We all have been a part of a year long demo.

    detroitkruk
  5. #5  
    It makes no sense to aim only for the skinny few people on the fringes over the "fat middle." The fat middle is where most consumers are. There is nothing wrong with what they aimed at. The problem is they missed the fat middle.
  6. #6  
    There's still a distinct lack of focus on what WebOS and the Pre and Pixi are supposed to be for. It was for busy people, but PIM apps lag badly behind other apps and "features" like it emailing people when you're going to be late for a meeting never materialized. Now, seems like all of the major apps are game ports from iPhone, but if that meant so much to a consumer, they could just.....buy an iPhone or iPod Touch. Multitasking? Unique a year ago, but no longer.

    Gotta answer that question, HP.
  7. Dazo's Avatar
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    #7  
    fyi, cajones = dresser drawers
  8. KoreyTM's Avatar
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    #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by Dazo View Post
    fyi, cajones = dresser drawers
    I think Dazo is onto something here.


    HP's got dresser drawers. They just have to use 'em!
  9. #9  
    No.
  10. #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by UntidyGuy View Post
    I'm wondering what the fat middle supposedly wants from HP/Palm that isn't offered by the every other smartphone manufacturer. You can get them all for $200 plus a contract. They all have great browsers and social networking apps. Every major carrier has several. Plenty have hardware keyboards. Most have tons of apps. Are they really that interested in multitasking and patches? Do they want to integrate with other HP hardware?

    It doesn't sound to me like the fat middle is a viable strategy for Palm any longer. As for picking other markets, the only one I can think of is the HP enterprise customer looking for a handset to deploy along with other mobile devices. That doesn't require cutting edge consumer technologies nor a lot of consumer marketing.
    The problem with this approach is that most people use their own phone for business. More an more companies are supporting the use of a personal smartphone for company e-mail. First blackberry, then iPhone, etc.

    It isn't companies making the iPad sell like crazy, it's people buying and bringing them to work.

    All business people are consumers, but not all consumers are business people. The "fat middle" is where it starts in the era of smart devices and "consumerized" IT...

    Blackberry sells the type of phone most companies would prefer to support. They are losing share fast, because people want more/better and they haven't kept up.
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  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by UntidyGuy View Post
    I'm wondering what the fat middle supposedly wants from HP/Palm that isn't offered by the every other smartphone manufacturer. You can get them all for $200 plus a contract. They all have great browsers and social networking apps. Every major carrier has several. Plenty have hardware keyboards. Most have tons of apps. Are they really that interested in multitasking and patches? Do they want to integrate with other HP hardware?

    It doesn't sound to me like the fat middle is a viable strategy for Palm any longer. As for picking other markets, the only one I can think of is the HP enterprise customer looking for a handset to deploy along with other mobile devices. That doesn't require cutting edge consumer technologies nor a lot of consumer marketing.
    Agreed. A re-run of a post I made on TreoCentral last year, but I gotta wonder what the mythical 'fat middle' really means. I took a poke at it with this graphic - I think the 'fat middle' the Pre thought they might dominate turned out to already be occupied by the big the in US smartphone sales.
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vze14nc88/...es/PreFit2.jpg
  12. #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by UntidyGuy View Post
    I'm wondering what the fat middle supposedly wants from HP/Palm that isn't offered by the every other smartphone manufacturer. You can get them all for $200 plus a contract. They all have great browsers and social networking apps. Every major carrier has several. Plenty have hardware keyboards. Most have tons of apps. Are they really that interested in multitasking and patches? Do they want to integrate with other HP hardware?

    It doesn't sound to me like the fat middle is a viable strategy for Palm any longer. As for picking other markets, the only one I can think of is the HP enterprise customer looking for a handset to deploy along with other mobile devices. That doesn't require cutting edge consumer technologies nor a lot of consumer marketing.
    They want a great phone, with advanced features that are easy to use. However, they also want feature parity with Centro and Blackberry, an app catalog as extensive as the iPhone, and hardware that isn't made from plastic. Most of the patches exist to create functionality that Centro/Blackberry/WinMo have had for years... Once webOS has reached that level of capability, the homebrewers can spend their time on doing really cool stuff and making money.

    Palm got the first part right. HP has the money (and stones) to get the second part right. Most of the fat middle hasn't moved to a smart phone yet, so there is still time to claim that space before the market is too crowded...
  13. #13  
    Quote Originally Posted by Kupe View Post
    Agreed. A re-run of a post I made on TreoCentral last year, but I gotta wonder what the mythical 'fat middle' really means. I took a poke at it with this graphic - I think the 'fat middle' the Pre thought they might dominate turned out to already be occupied by the big the in US smartphone sales.
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vze14nc88/...es/PreFit2.jpg
    I thing your graphic is pretty off... you placed everything the Pre does entirely inside Android and then made the circle for android at least another time larger? Black Berry and Iphone the same?

    To the op... if you dont know what aiming for the fat middle means... how can you ask us if they have the cajones to step outside that... or try to persuade us that it was an utter failure?

    Think about the posts we see every day... "no backend for IM is a HUGE oversight and failure in the device"... "no voice dial is a HUGE oversight and failure in the device"... "not playing well with an exchange server is a HUGE oversight and failure in the device"... "no ability to record audio notes"... "cant back up text messages... not enough options in universal search... doesnt have visual voicemail out of the box... doesnt have bbm"

    doesnt have this, doesnt have that

    The list goes on and on and on... every one of these represents a market segment... theres lots of people who could give a care less about all the features on earth that dont matter to them... but its a HUGE oversight and failure in the device if it doesnt have the ones on their list.

    Lets try to be realistic here... the pre is a generation 1 device and generation 1 software... of course it doesnt have everything that everyone wants it to have... but it has a lot that ALL the segments of the market want, its just not specialized in one particular bandwidth of the market. Thats sort of like sitting in the very middle right?

    I wouldnt call it the fat middle though... 2.0 will show us the direction Palm intends for the device...
  14. #14  
    Look at Apple. They've had epic success by focusing on one device. The Pixi really distracted Palm, and in my view - it's a complete waste of development resources. The screen is far too tiny and the name is 100% gay.

    In my view, HP should move forward with a single device - the Pre's successor. The Pixi can be fazed out. This Pre successor could be larger, but I would advocate keeping the slider style and the physical keyboard, as this is what's going to attract customers from the BlackBerry platform. The touchscreen, of course, is a keeper, as it can attract those iOS platform transients.

    The real issue is one of focus. I thought HP had this one nailed, but now I'm not so sure. Adding WebOS to printers and other peripheral devices is cool - this will (hopefully) mean that Palm phones can wirelessly print, which no other phone can currently dream of doing. This strengthens the WebOS message in the enterprise market.

    Where WebOS lags the most is in the personal market. Entertainment options are few and far between, and the selection and number of apps in the app store is a complete disappointment. bluewanders mentioned several other hardware and software deficiencies above that users are noticing. Focusing on one device allows HP to do its very best in creating a "killer app" phone.

    As for attracting personal users, Netflix and Hulu seem reluctant to develop applications for the WebOS platform. This is disappointing and annoying, but it is what it is. Why hasn't HP responded by providing their own developers to Netflix and Hulu to develop these apps for WebOS? Considering that the port has already been made to iOS on both platforms, most of the knowledge needed for porting to a mobile device is already developed. This would be a quick and dirty fix to a glaring issue on WebOS - a lack of compelling visual entertainment options. I mean, even Droid now does Blockbuster streaming.

    The next WebOS phone has to be epic. If HP insists on controlling the software and hardware, like Apple, then they need to become fanatical about quality, drop the joke-of-a-phone Pixi, and really get to work on making this next phone a winner. It's time to abandon the purported "fat middle" and move to the level of the iPhone.

    Two things we need the most: more developer buy-in, and better hardware quality.
  15. #15  
    I would argue that Android has surpassed iPhone sales because there are so many handset choices...
  16. #16  
    Quote Originally Posted by Workerb33 View Post
    I would argue that Android has surpassed iPhone sales because there are so many handset choices...
    And you have a point there. We've seen the marketing muscle of hardware developers, particularly HTC and their Android fanatacism. Perhaps if HP opens WebOS to all hardware vendors, we'd quickly see some awesome innovations. I'm all for that option, too. HTC does some epic things with phones. Imagine an HTC phone with WebOS - a dream!
  17. #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by pre-fan View Post
    And you have a point there. We've seen the marketing muscle of hardware developers, particularly HTC and their Android fanatacism. Perhaps if HP opens WebOS to all hardware vendors, we'd quickly see some awesome innovations. I'm all for that option, too. HTC does some epic things with phones. Imagine an HTC phone with WebOS - a dream!
    The problem is that google doesn't charge for Android. How would Palm make money? They tried making it as a hardware company when they split PalmOS into a separate company and started licensing PalmOS... In fact, Palm doesn't actually own PalmOS any more, it is owned by Access.

    So webOS is the most valuable thing about Palm, and I can't imagine that they could just give it away... The alternative is to create the best phone experience across a family of phones that cover the range of Pre/Slap/Lanscape Keyboard/Tablet/etc... that's a big challenge.
  18. #18  
    True, there's no charge for Android. But there are a few things to keep in mind, in terms of how Palm can charge to license WebOS to external hardware builders:

    1. Hardware specialists already spend $$$ to customize Android - again, using HTC as an example, look at their Sense interface. Palm still assumes full control of the user interface design, thereby saving companies like HTC from the expense of designing an overlay - and justifying a charge for each license.
    2. Palm makes money from the App Catalog - a larger user base means more apps, more app downloads, and a larger App Catalog ROI.

    Especially in the case of a manufacturer such as HTC, the cost trade-off between interface customization (Android) and licensing costs of a pre-developed and fully intuitive mobile OS, is probably equal. As a caveat, I don't have any data to backup this claim. But combined with the potential revenue from the App Catalog, I do see this as a feasible strategy, especially if the next piece of hardware we see from Palm (now HP, of course) is built as poorly as the Pre (in which case HP has no choice but to outsource hardware design or give up on the Palm experiment).
  19. #19  
    i"d bet HTC likes having to design an interface so they can differentiate themselves and leverage their own patents...
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  20. #20  
    You do have a point there.
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