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  1.    #1  
    Frankly, I think somebody working on their MBA or Marketing degree should use the whole Treo 650 experiance this summer as a case study in how the Internet can both help and hurt a company's marketing stratigy.

    From the leaked slides, to the pressure to pull the articles, to the rumors and denials and then the big break with the photos and RL sightings, it has been a very interesting process.

    In just seconds of the photos postings on TC, they were being reposted on several sites and enough info has gotten out that a guy in a mall in Singapore can spot the new phone being tested and report it. Specs are leaked months ago and have spread, literally, worldwide and look to be very accurate. The thread the breaks the big news is approaching 150,000 views in just a couple of days. Amazing.

    It shows how it is impossible to keep information totally out of the hands of a determined public despite a company's best efforts, but also shows the potential of generating excitement over a product that has not even been officially announced yet.

    Some very interesting questions and topics for future analysis:

    *Could the initial "leak" of the Sprint slides been intentional by P1 or Sprint? Or even more sinister, a leak by one department or faction in a company to force others in the company to react.

    *If a scantioned "leak", then the pressure to pull the TC article was an act, if not, the pressure was a mistake IMO since it drew attention to the leak and gave it credibility.

    *Were any of the posters on the various sites who were naysaying the imminent release of the 650 shills for P1, Sprint or anyone else trying to kill the rumors or reduce expectations?

    *Were any of the leaks of release date or feature info plants, trial ballons or misinformation used to try and manipulate the internet.

    *Did any of the internet buzz change any corporate plans.

    Frankly, my view is that the initial leak was a true leak and not sanctioned. I think this because at the time the 600 had not yet even made it to all carriers yet and there was the big 600 ad campaign about to start. Pretty bad time to release news of the next model. Likewise I think most of the feature and release date rumors were probably genuine and a result of the fact it is just impossible to keep that kind of info secret from a fanatical fan base like us in this day and age, while still getting the info out to those that needed it.

    It would not suprise me, however, if some of the posters on some of the boards who have been trying to tear down the idea that a new Treo was on the way were working for P1 or sprint or the like. We know the companies monitor this and the other boards and it must drive them crazy when they see confidential info posted or people who say they work for them or a carrier releasing material.

    Now, I don't think all of the naysayers were shills, mind you, I think some of them were folks that were truely in denial that there could be a new product that would be newer and better than what they had so "soon" after they made their purchase. People just can't accept sometimes that they may not have the newest thing. (A long time ago I purchased a Phillips VELO 1, one of the early CE devices. There was an official company chat board that was monitored but not censored by Phillips. You should have seen the venom that came out when Phillips introduced a new model about 8 months after the VELO 1 was introduced, it was like they had all been betrayed. To read the posts you would have thought that Phillips should never have improved its product. I wrote a post saying, what did you expect when you buy something called the "1?" That they didn't have a "2" or "3" already in mind! LOL. Somebody at Phillips read the post and sent me a nice letter and a gift even, so I guess that made ME a shill!). Wonder if any P1 sent any of the TC naysayers a gift!

    It would also not surprise me if some of the leaked info turns out to have been planted just to see what was and was not going to fly with the new product. Not that P1 would probably change much based on an internet message board, but I can see them wanting to know what the reaction to, no wi-fi, or a price point, or something like that would be.

    The next thing to watch is what all of this will do to 600 sales. 300 sales just came to a halt once the 600 was announced. But while the 300/600 switch is instructive, it was different. There was a BIG product difference between the two that was obvious to lots of people, not just the techies and the big release news came from the top guy,not a leak, so it got much more mainstream (at least "tech mainstream") coverage. Further, the "offical" announcement of the 600 was quite a bit before the actual availability. My guess is that if there is a Oct release date, we won't have an official announcement until the end of Sept. If that is the case, 600 sales won't be hurt too much by the 650 until then. Even after that, if there is a resonable price difference between the two, I think the 600 will survive as the mid-level Treo (I still think there may be a low-end version at some point)

    Now, obviously, most of the people that frequent THIS board who were thinking about buying a 600 will now probably wait.

    On the other hand, look at the buzz all of this has created amongst the early adopter types. You probably have several hundred people right here right now that would buy the thing today if they could just from the leaked photos and specs alone. Frankly, you can't buy that kind of publicity which is why you can't totally discount the idea this was intentional.

    The big factor I think is how long it will take before you can really order the thing. IF it is in October, and if they actually have the units to ship then and if there is a fair price differential, I don't think there will be a big problem for the companies. People will be able to pick and choose and decide which is better value for them and overall sales won't suffer. IF, however, the release is delayed very much at all for whatever reasons (trying to reduce 600 stock, tech problems, pressure from carriers that just got the 600 or whatever) THEN I think sales will start to suffer as the word gets around to the average consumer that a new device is really in the wings.

    So somebody, get out there and write your Thesis on P1, the Internet TreoCentral and the 650! And reseach THIS conspiracy theory for me.....

    ...the 650 has been ready for a while, but pressure from Verizon who just got the 600 is keeping the 650 under wraps. Somebody at Sprint is decides to force the issue, so releases the powerpoint slide....meanwhile across town a lone internet message board operator is listening to the monotonus stacato of rain upon his desktop and reading his name on the glass door of his office - REGNAD KCIN. His secretary lay snoring on the floor, her long beautiful gams pinioned under the couch...
    Last edited by midmofan; 08/30/2004 at 10:50 AM.
  2. #2  
    Palm definitely can be cagey about new products. Witness the "release" of the Treo 600 via a single photo surrounding the Palm/Handspring merger. No text, no mention of it. Just Hawkins holding the device in the official merger photo.

    Part of me thinks there are people at Palm laughing at every post in this board (including mine) as they control and manipulate us from afar. :-)
  3.    #3  
    I accept that it is very possible that some of what has gone on here was manipulation. But don't go by the 600 mess, that was a disaster. Handsprings "leak" of the 600 was probably due to their need to generate a buzz as they were looking for an investor of a merger partner. But by doing what they did, they killed 300 sales and probably forced them to announce a release date before they were really ready and to rush the production of the early 600s. Hence the shipping delays and some of the QC problems at first.

    In fact, I got my 300 almost for free from Sprint after all of the rebates and discounts (actually, i think it cost me $35) not long after the news of the 600 killed their 300 sales and they were desperate to move the product. Now I want the 650, but if I could get a 600 for $35....
  4. #4  
    I think I got my Treo 600 for around $100 when you count the loyalty program, selling my Treo 300 on eBay, and a service credit from Sprint for renewing my contract (which might not be kind of phony (pun intended) accounting on my part). Now if I can "upgrade" to the Treo 650 doing the same thing that would work for me.

    It isn't unusual for the price to drop after news of a new product coming out. For instance, you can get a Treo 600 on Amazon for $199 now. That's without there being any official news from PalmOne that a new Treo exists (at least as far as I know).
  5. #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by midmofan
    ...the 650 has been ready for a while, but pressure from Verizon who just got the 600 is keeping the 650 under wraps. Somebody at Sprint is decides to force the issue, so releases the powerpoint slide....meanwhile across town a lone internet message board operator is listening to the monotonus stacato of rain upon his desktop and reading his name on the glass door of his office - REGNAD KCIN. His secretary lay snoring on the floor, her long beautiful gams pinioned under the couch...
    Ok, I don't get the joke: who is NICK DANGER? Miradu???
    Since people have problems with my Einstein quotes, I will now quote my true hero: Homer Simpson.

    "Doh !'
  6. nunzio's Avatar
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    I think this thesis puts a lot of focus on what happened and where we may end up. Great job midmofan!!

    I think the release of the T650 is following typical P1 release histories. We saw the slide early and lawyers forced it to be pulled, typical P1. We also got the specs early but no confirmation. If you pay attention P1 s gearing up for a new set of major releases. We saw leaks of the T5 and E2 just today on brighthand and been hearing about a new Treo on anayalists calls and in the press. All of this is typical P1.
  7.    #7  
    "Out of the Fog, into the smog. Relentlessly, Ruthlessly ('I wonder where Ruth is?') Doggedly (Arf, Arf, Arf) At 4th and Drucker he takes a left. At Drucker and 4th he takes a right. He crosses McArthur Park and walks into a great sandstone building.('Ouch, my nose!') He's ready for adventure, he's ready for excitement he's ready for anything He's

    NICK DANGER -- THIRD EYE (Dum Dum Dummmmmmmm)

    (Search for nick danger and the firesign theatre to learn about REAL investigative work, baby!)
  8. #8  
    I think if you go back and study Palm's and Handspring's release history, you will find both the positives and negatives of pre-release leaked info. Recall, the Palm initially leaked info about the M515 months before its release which was a major and horrific marketing decision. It severely hurt current M500/505 sales at the time and taught Palm a very important lession. On the other hand, JH planned and coreographed leak of the first Treo600 pics during the Handspring/Palm merger worked beautifully and brought much more buzz than the company could have created itself...
    aka Gfunkmagic

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  9.    #9  
    the 600 leak worked great for what Handspring needed that instant, which was a good spin for the investment/merger talks that were going on. BUT it then killed the sales of the 300 long before the 600 was really ready to come out. Further, IMO, the rush to market caused some of the problems that haunted the 600.

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