How Palm Could Lose Everything Editorial
The Motley Fool is wrapping up the end of the year with two days of back-to-back "Foolish" coverage of Palm. With one week to go until Palm's big "new-ness" January 8th announcement at CES in Las Vegas, contributor Tim Beyers offers up the second of two nicely-written pieces. This one is entitled "How Palm Could Lose Everything" and offers up an outlook that is not quite as gloomy as the title might suggest. In short, Beyers offers a myriad of reasons why he feels next week's opportunity could be Palm's final chance to recapture some of their former glory.
In a refreshing change of pace from some of the poorly-supported pieces we've seen in the past, Beyers offers a resounding amount of hard, empirical data to substantiate his feelings about Palm. For example, recent Canalys shipment numbers from the leading smartphone vendors are offered to support the sentiment that "closed systems are crushing open systems" and Beyers and his colleages at the Motley Fool see no reason for 2009 to deviate from the trends of the past few years.
Later in the article, Beyers goes on to state that Palm's increased openness has led to its decline in both industry influence and marketshare. Prominent mention is also made of the stillborn Foleo project in 2007 that distracted Palm from their smartphone focus while draining the company of precious engineering resources and capital. Surprisingly, no mention is made of Palm's strongest hardware effort in years, the recent Treo Pro. Despite Beyers' claim that "Carriers like the closed systems better", no mention is made of the utter lack of carrier support for the Treo Pro to date, nor is the reportedly short-lived Treo 800w mentioned as a carrier-supported but still under-promoted effort either. Indeed, Palm will need to ensure that Nova is not only a strong OS and partnered with solid hardware out of the gate, but carrier and developer support will be additional crucial requirements.
Like so many of the PIC faithful have posted over the past few years, Beyers draws parallels between the beleaguered Palm of 2008-09 and Apple in the dark days of 1996-97, prior to the return of Steve Jobs following the tenure of Gil Amelio and the debacle of the Copland OS project. With Jon Rubinstein now at the helm of Palm's future product efforts, the article gives a none-too-subtle nod to the Rubinstein's iPod as arguably the most successful closed system in recent years, with Palm hoping that Rubinstein can work his magic a second time. In a week's time, we will hopefully have a much clearer picture of Palm's product roadmap at least through the first half of '09.
Despite being a strong overall effort, the article does contain one small typo that should be noted: it states that Palm has been selling Windows Mobile-based Treos since 2005 when in fact the first WM-based Treo, the Verizon-exclusive Treo 700w, launched in January 2006. In fact, 2005 was a transitional year for Palm somewhat analogous to what we are experiencing in 2008 and 2009, as Palm released their final Palm OS handhelds with no new smartphones to bask in the success of 2004's Treo 650.