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  1.    #1  
    I know this is a more of a "last year" kind of post, but it's been noodling around in my head for a while. I'm just now getting around to typing it up. My apologies to the mods if I put this in the wrong forum.

    We all know Palm's history. Most here know more about it than I do, in fact. My primary memory of Palms gone by is the M100, which I still have sitting on the shelf in my office. The old PalmOS rocked in its day. webOS rocks now. Palm's downfall, however, has nearly always been hardware. There's a reason for that.

    I see Palm as primarily a software company. They make outstanding software for mobile devices. They don't make outstanding hardware because it's just not what they're good at, and they didn't have the money to pay for it when they released the Pre and Pixi. Unfortunately, you can't get by without strong hardware these days, and that's why the Palm Pre and Pixi have struggled. Let's look at the competition in the smartphone business:

    Blackberry: RIM makes rock solid, if uninspired, hardware. The software that ran their phones was innovative years ago, but had failed to change with the times. That's why they're playing catch-up.

    Android: The OS is made by Google, but the hardware is made by hardware companies like HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and others. This is a good system for making good devices. The downside is that there are so many companies making the devices, and their devices don't all talk to each other or even run the same version of the software.

    Windows Phone 7: Microsoft, like Palm, is a software company. They took the route of letting others build their phones.

    iOS: Apple is sort of the exception to what I'm trying to point out here. Like them or hate them, they've nearly always made good to great hardware. I've never been a huge fan of their operating systems, but a lot of people are.

    So ... who has succeeded? Out of the five I'm talking about here (Blackberry and Palm), the two that have floundered have been the two that don't have solid software AND hardware. Blackberry's OS hasn't kept up. Palm received rave reviews for webOS, but didn't have enough money to build a great phone, and didn't want to license the OS to let someone else (HTC, Motorola, etc.) build it for them. I often wonder what would have happened if they'd gone the licensing route. Seeing webOS on an HTC phone makes me a little excited down under, if you know what I mean.

    So, now we see HP entering the fray with the purchase of Palm last year and finally their big announcement of hardware on Feb. 9. I think this is the missing piece of the puzzle for Palm and webOS. HP is at its heart a hardware company. They make things, and they're pretty good at it. And, they have the distribution channels and relationships to sell all of those things. It's almost like a match made in heaven.

    I would have loved to see Palm make it as an upstart, but in the end, they couldn't master both ends of the equation. Hopefully HP can help them finish what they started.
  2. #2  
    I think the Blackberry story might be what HP is thinking. RIM had a good software, solid hardware, all designed for the mobile professional. As pricepoints dropped, others wanted the same thing. However, it was never a consumer-focused strategy.

    Google and Apple have both succeeded at the consumer-focused strategy for different reasons.

    Windows phones suffer from being tied to Windows (strange, but true) and generalized hate of the Gen Y of Microsoft.

    I'm unsure if the Blackberry strategy will work for a mature technology (i.e. smartphones), but could work with tablets. The corporate trickle-down strategy works best when consumers haven't already chosen a "winner" in the space.

    Think back to iTunes and how Apple has leverage essentially copyrighted MP3s into a vast empire of mobile devices and perceived innovation dominance. They built the ecosystem piece by piece and now challengers need to roll out with the whole thing almost built to compete.
  3. #3  
    I agree on many levels...Palm and RIM are very similar and seem to manufacturer their own phones. RIM specifically has stepped up over their years acquiring the right technologies (MDaemon, etc) to build their infrastructure.

    I also think HP is going to help where Palm has not been able to control their own destiny when it comes to phones hardware wise. Hopefully HP can control the cut-throat cell phone arena when it comes to margins and cost. One failure in my eyes coming from Palm includes the Palm Pixi originally released on Sprint without WIFI...did that notion make since to anyone besides Sprint? Sorli...
  4. #4  
    Quote Originally Posted by realistdreamer View Post
    I think the Blackberry story might be what HP is thinking. RIM had a good software, solid hardware, all designed for the mobile professional. As pricepoints dropped, others wanted the same thing. However, it was never a consumer-focused strategy.
    this is the key. RIM isn't losing customers because their product isn't as good, RIM is losing customers because other companies have bridged the gap between 'dumb' phones like a razor flip phone and the 'smart' phones like blackberries.

    there are/were a lot of people with blackberries who didn't 'need' them. they don't need the security, their IT org doesn't need the control, etc. They just needed a phone that could send/receive emails.

    now we have a ton of phones that can do that, that are geared towards 'having fun', not being the best, most secure device on the market.

    prior to this, the options were windows mobile, blackberry, treo, or blackjack - only blackberry was a well known, and the most reliable. so they ate the market up.

    i just hope RIM's shift to try to keep/attract those people in the middle doesn't cause their product to suffer... because what they're good at now - the security, the reliability - they're damn good at. i'd hate to see that change.
  5. cgk
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    #5  
    I'd be slightly more convinced about all of this if I hadn't just watched Microsoft spunk $500 million dollars on marketing and promotion to little or no impact. That's not to say HP can't make it (or even Windows phone 7) but I think it's going to be incredibly hard to go from "other" in terms of share to anything more than 6th or 7th platform (and having to fight windows phone 7 for the privilege).
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    #6  
    HP then better have more than one carrier per country..... Also, all "ecco" systems are getting better all the time. Consumers stand to benefit regardless.
  7. cgk
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    #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by sjaakb View Post
    HP then better have more than one carrier per country..... Also, all "ecco" systems are getting better all the time. Consumers stand to benefit regardless.
    Yep, fundementally whatever platform you are on, this is all good news as it will drive both innovation and replication.
  8. #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by CGK View Post
    I'd be slightly more convinced about all of this if I hadn't just watched Microsoft spunk $500 million dollars on marketing and promotion to little or no impact. That's not to say HP can't make it (or even Windows phone 7) but I think it's going to be incredibly hard to go from "other" in terms of share to anything more than 6th or 7th platform (and having to fight windows phone 7 for the privilege).
    It's not the expenditure and subsequent fizzling that's worrying me about Windows Phone 7. It's that they took a marketing angle that HP WebOS is likely going to run with to some extent - "our OS is so convenient that apps shouldn't matter yada yadda..."

    That to me means there is no going around the iPhone app/ecosystem. To succeed, you have to take it head on. Microsoft, oddly enough, isn't pushing the Zune pass audio/video ecosystem with Windows Phone 7, nor any of their custom games. I can only hope that if HP lines these same attributes up for Feb. 9 that every commercial will push them hard.
  9. #9  
    I have to say, I'm more the mobile professional than a gamer. I ride the train and iPhone usage is very high. Gaming is high. Music only is high. Even facebook on iPhone seems to be used on the train a good deal.

    I'm old school. I need to check email, send a few texts and make sure I'm prepared for the day with my calendar. The apps I'm looking for are from my bank, brokerage and other places I already do business and I need to check on things on the go. HP should not focus on old school folks like me, because our challenges have largely been solved.
  10. sirkuttin's Avatar
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    #10  
    HP is playing an odd mix of both sides. It may play in their favor. They are planning to release a new phone every 2 months. For a single company that is quite fast. It won't be as fast as Google or Microsoft but faster than Blackberry and Apple. They are going to have complete control of their hardware and software with lots of form factors. This was pretty much the goal they stated at Dev Day. This is what is key to their success. Everything WebOS will play together nicely. The user experience will be very uniform.

    Apple has that uniform experience but you are limited in hardware selection. I need a real keyboard because I am weird. Plus I would hate autocorrect. With apple you get one experience only. You at least know exactly what you are getting.

    Blackberry has some more choices than Apple but not as many as the others. You still get a uniform experience. They are just in a smaller market now. Less people want to carry around two phones. Like said above, many more phones have a lot of the capabilities, though less security and more fun. That is were most consumers reside.

    Googles approach of leaving it all up to the hardware makers means a very accelerated rate of new devices. New phones, tablets and netbooks are popping up everywhere. Some fast some slow. Many with additional layers of UI. They say there is a device to fit every personality. (Well they haven't fit mine quite yet) It is a double edged sword, what makes it great, holds it back. While you can find this awesome device that fits you it might not be updated as fast or at all because of custom software the phone company made for it.

    Microsoft does a smart thing by making minimum requirements for the hardware vendors to follow. That makes a fairly uniform experience and will make updates for each different phone easier and not so varied like android. However, they said WebOS was late to the game. Windows Phone 7 came out later and has many limitations that WebOS did at launch. They do have lots of money and 3rd party support. However, they haven't said anything about other form factors past phones.

    Having lots of form factors e.g., phones, netbooks, tablets, similar to Android compounded with the hardware control of Apple and further compounded with the money to back it like Microsoft all up gives good reason for them to succeed.
  11. #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by CGK View Post
    I'd be slightly more convinced about all of this if I hadn't just watched Microsoft spunk $500 million dollars on marketing and promotion to little or no impact. That's not to say HP can't make it (or even Windows phone 7) but I think it's going to be incredibly hard to go from "other" in terms of share to anything more than 6th or 7th platform (and having to fight windows phone 7 for the privilege).
    I think what hurt WP7 is similar to what hurt Palm and the Pre. Announced to a ton of excitement, and then a long wait until hardware is available. If HP is true to their CEO's word and can release hardware quickly they will be in good shape.
  12. #12  
    i don't think of palm as a software company. they are like apple except that honestly apple makes alot more software. like it makes a ton of desktop apps like iphoto, itunes, final cut pro. but it's always made hardware too.

    palm, and i'm not a long time palm user so i don't know too much, but palm i don't know of much software that they ever sold for a desktop or other platform. like it's just been tied to it's hardware right? not saying it was bad just that they have always been making a lot of hardware right? like nobody would confuse them with a microsoft, making tons of software and occasionally making hardware like an xbox or zune. seems to me Palm's products they've always made both hardware and software.

    now personally i've always thought they should have gone the google/microsoft route. make only software, license it, lower your expenses, and grow your market share. i think had palm licensed webos at the same time google did, like before the G1 came out, i'd think they'd be neck and neck market share wise if not a head and with a lot more customers and a ton more phones coming out in many form factors. obviously that would be before webos was even announced and hypothetical. But, hey, it was not to be. now wether joining forces with a computer/imaging/enterprise storage solution/IT services company can help them make a successful phone? who knows? on the plus side i think it helps that tablets are closely related to one of their strengths in computers. but sadly for them they enter that game well after the big fruit has made it to market.
  13. gbp
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    #13  
    Palm made great software and good hardware. The problem is they have no taste for designing good looking devices for the Masses. HP will continue to be a failed phone company if they cannot improve on the "Looks". Common public buys phones on the looks first. Apple nailed the looks part, plus they make good hardware backed by excellent software.
  14. #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by sirkuttin View Post
    HP is playing an odd mix of both sides. It may play in their favor. They are planning to release a new phone every 2 months. . . They are going to have complete control of their hardware and software with lots of form factors. This was pretty much the goal they stated at Dev Day. This is what is key to their success. Everything WebOS will play together nicely. The user experience will be very uniform.
    If they can pull this off, they have a good chance. A new device every two months (if a solid device) will give developers some comfort. I there aren't announcements to port my key productivity software (i.e. Outlook, Office, OneNote), I can't see getting the tablet.

    For a phone, I need less functionality as long as the browser works well and I have a pad that handles my productivity needs. I don't mind have the phone being the consumption device, but I need a tablet/netbook for creation/modification.
  15. #15  
    I hope so.....look what has been posted today.............. below, I could not post links till mt 10th post.
  16. #16  
    Tell me this is not true.... about 20 hours till we know for sure. I really don't see them dropping WebOS.... but I don't see them making tons of money on it either. Guess it will be answered tomorrow. Just wonder where these reports come from, being that hp released a teaser video that looks like a phone.


    Why HP might ditch WebOS for Android | Mobilize - InfoWorld

    HP May Have Abandoned WebOS in Smartphones
  17. #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by thorataz View Post
    Tell me this is not true.... about 20 hours till we know for sure. I really don't see them dropping WebOS.... but I don't see them making tons of money on it either. Guess it will be answered tomorrow. Just wonder where these reports come from, being that hp released a teaser video that looks like a phone.


    Why HP might ditch WebOS for Android | Mobilize - InfoWorld

    HP May Have Abandoned WebOS in Smartphones
    Ok "it's not true."

    Now in all seriousness. HP I think has a very tough road. They are a laptop/desktop, imaging and enterprise solution company. They haven't been too great outside of that. They haven't been good with phones. And from the little research i've read about hp i've read that the computer business isn't growing very fast, but the storage and enterprise stuff is. The one area of growth in the computer space is tablets. What truly remains to be seen though is whether anyone other then Apple can sell a tablet. So i've always though HP would be much more comfortable in the tablet market cause it's really just like a laptop or netbook rather then the cellphone space. Thus it wouldn't totally surprise me.

    Not to mention i've always though the big uphill battle is always getting not just developers but more importantly regular companies to make apps for your platform. Like a Starbucks app or chase bank app etc. That takes money so i've always wondered just how far they are willing to go money wise to get those people. Plus if you look at the eco system that apple has create it's an appealing package. It's ebooks, music downloads, video downloads, podcasting, HD video recording, social networking, a desktop media management all in a consistent solution. By that i mean that itunes talks to your itunes account, and it all works on you computer and you phone your apple tv, you ipad. Tech people focus on specs. But i think the average customer is looking at apps. What can i use it for. And just browsing probably isn't enough. Plus you've got Android with a big push, big user base attracting developers and i could totally see HP saying, not sure it's worth it to try and grab all those customers cause we'd have to outlay so much money to catch up in those areas. Where do we get the licenses to sell music, or videos, etc.

    That said i totally be surprised if they didn't give it at least a shot, releasing some devices, and see if they can get some traction that they can build on. And they have said they are in it for the long term so maybe it doesn't matter. maybe they've decided they can take a short term hit to establish long term growth in webos users.

    bottom line. is i still think they wanted it for tablets and phones were secondary. And though i don't think they will dump phones or webos totally, it's a touch market and they are already way behind so it would not totally surprise me if it happened.

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