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Palm Needs a Savior Editorial

Wired Magazine's Gadget Lab blog has published a new editorial by Brian X. Chen entitled "Palm Needs a Savior, and Treo Pro Won't Cut It". This piece takes a harsh look at Palm's new Treo Pro, especially when compared against a slew of increasingly competitive devices from HTC, RIM, Apple, and any number of handset manufacturers.

In short, Chen claims that the new Treo Pro is merely a stopgap device—a "floatation device" as he calls it—to bridge the gap between Palm's Windows Mobile-heavy 2008 and their "hopefully revolutionary" device(s) next year, presumably running the new "Nova" Palm OS replacement. In his editorial, Chen posts several notable quotes from a telecom industry analyst, a Palm spokesperson, and Peter Hoddie, the president of streaming media software developer Kinoma. The wide array of responses quoted in the article touch not only on the new Treo Pro but also Palm's current activities and future outlook.

Treo Pro MarketshareTero Kuittinen of Global Crown Capital states that he essentially feels that the Treo Pro is terribly overpriced and most consumers will not want to pay $550 to enjoy the handful of benefits brought about by using an unlocked, unsubsidized GSM device in the United States. Furthermore, Kuittinen states, whatever future device Palm releases as its debut Nova handset will be the company's genuine make-or-break savior product.

In stark contrast, Palm's product-line manager Phil McClendon is quoted as firmly believing that the Treo Pro is well-positioned to compete against the iPhone's "casual" user base and the BlackBerry platform's inconvenient "software and networking" disadvantages. Mr. McClendon also defends Palm's decision to sell the Treo Pro without carrier support in the United States, saying that the power users targeted by the device will pay extra to own a phone unencumbered by carrier lockdowns or contractual constraints.

However, most tantalizing of all of the information revealed in the Wired piece is a brief discussion of Palm's upcoming "phone", specifically stating "…it will feature an entirely new platform and new hardware". Palm's Phil McClendon refused to comment any further when pressed for information about future Palm product releases.

Departing from the world of fact to speculate for a moment, it should be noted that last week's New York Times article referred to Palm's upcoming Nova device in the singular and did not specifically call it a "phone" or "smartphone", making some wonder if Palm had some kind of UMPC/PDA/PMP/tablet device in the works, what with the report's emphasis on "easier web surfing" and "social networking". Additionally, the warm response garnered by the Treo Pro's sleek formfactor and relatively cutting-edge specs have made some users speculate that Palm might revisit the Pro design for its first Nova device.

But if these latest tidbits revealed in the Wired article are accurate and taken literally, one can easily imagine suggest that Palm and Jon Rubinstein might have something more iPhone-esque in the works than a Treo Pro with Nova onboard.

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I hope....

twrock @ 8/29/2008 12:23:10 PM # Q
...Palm and Jon Rubinstein might have something more iPhone-esque in the works than a Treo Pro with Nova onboard.

One can only hope. Nova is still an unknown, and I'm still hoping for something from Palm other than the Treo form factor. But I also suspect it's still a long way off. Maybe it's time for a new battery for my TX. Palm has yet to offer me anything to beat it.


"twrock is infamous around these parts"
(from my profile over at Brighthand due to my negative 62 rep points rating)
RE: I hope....
LiveFaith @ 8/29/2008 12:39:59 PM # Q
Yeah Rock, you're right. I guess it's back to eBay for my fourth TT3 battery. They probably have a 3000mah by this time. :-D

Pat Horne
RE: I hope....
Gekko @ 8/29/2008 12:55:38 PM # Q

"Shit in one hand and wish in the other and see which one fills up first."

RE: I hope....
LiveFaith @ 8/29/2008 1:30:09 PM # Q
Gekko, I'm afraid to argue with that.

Pat Horne
RE: I hope....
mikecane @ 8/30/2008 9:24:13 AM # Q
@twrock: What? You didn't iPhone yet?! Not even the Asian HWR tempted you?!

Reply to this comment

that's being realistic

lemur @ 8/29/2008 3:27:16 PM # Q
The Treo Pro is yet-another-Windows-Mobile device. Hardly innovative. And then Nova is still wallowing in R&D mud. So yeah, I think skepticism with regards to Palm is in order.
RE: that's being realistic
LiveFaith @ 8/29/2008 6:18:17 PM # Q
You've missed the point. Palm actually designed something that is at least in the ballpark as far as specs, form, and style goes. This is monumental considering the last time that has happened is back with the Treo 600.

And a 3.5mm audio ... that's beyond belief. The bar's pretty low round' here ya know.

Pat Horne

RE: that's being realistic
SeldomVisitor @ 8/30/2008 4:38:53 AM # Q
Giving Palm credit for the design of the Pro is incorrect, IMHO. To me it looks like am evolutionary change from other phones designed by HTC - that is, it is HTC that has changed over time and is producing phones that are "in the ball park" when compared to other HTC-designed Treos.


RE: that's being realistic
TooMuch @ 8/30/2008 6:57:45 AM # Q
Yeah SV, HTC must have designed this because Palm can't do anything. Correct? This brings to mind other questions for HTC like...Which square-edged phone did HTC derive this from? Why did HTC put that Palm gel keyboard on it? Where is the HTC "California design" office? Etc.

RE: that's being realistic
SeldomVisitor @ 8/30/2008 9:17:15 AM # Q
I personally would assume Palm marketing was using final decisions and critical features like ringer button location (...) as the "design in California" fluff. Probably irritates the HTC industrial design folks no end but that's the life of an out-sourcee, huh?

Or maybe Colligan or Brown will retract their words about Windows Mobile ODMs and how Palm uses them.

Then again, perhaps Colligan will also retract his words on "Centro consumer; Nova prosumer; Treo enterprise" given what they're overtly saying now about the Treo Pro and what its market includes.


RE: that's being realistic
hkklife @ 8/30/2008 11:41:23 AM # Q
Centro: carrier-subsidized, mass-market budget handsets running Garnet exclusively
Treos: enterprise, prosumer & everyone else, running WinMob exclusively


Whoops, no room for Nova in there. What a surprise!



Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: that's being realistic
SeldomVisitor @ 8/30/2008 1:01:49 PM # Q
Oh...you noticed, huh?

Giggle.

Reply to this comment

palm needs a hero

Gekko @ 8/29/2008 4:42:40 PM # Q
RE: palm needs a hero
joad @ 8/30/2008 7:42:46 PM # Q
This IS Palm - I think THIS one is a MUCH more appropriate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8VGQTtENSs




Paying my annual PDA update tax to Palm since 1997.

Reply to this comment

Palm Doesn't Need a Savior

YojimboE @ 8/30/2008 7:06:16 AM # Q
Palm doesn't need a savior, it needs a funeral director. You know, someone to advise on the kind of casket, choice of music for the service, and a kind shoulder for Ed to cry on when he finally realizes there's no coming back. Jeff Hawkins will deliver a heartfelt eulogy, and anyone who wants can scatter dirt into the grave, and that will be that.

Seriously, even if the chosen OS (Nova) arrives when predicted, what will be left of the smartphone/PDA market for Palm to recapture? PDAs, sorry to say, have become a tiny niche between smart phones and netbooks, and will not revive any time soon. On the phone side, can we expect Nova to out-Apple the iPhone for media-oriented consumer users, or to out-Blackberry RIM (you know I had to say it that way!) on integration with enterprise email servers? Long ago, maybe they could, but I don't see anything more than a warmed-over Palm interface sitting on top of an undistinguished Linux stack. Not given their record of release dates slipping ever further into the future, and lack of details on progress so far.

We've gone through denial, anger, and depression, and there's nothing to bargain with here. Maybe it's time for acceptance.

Professional Amateur

RE: Palm Doesn't Need a Savior
Gekko @ 8/30/2008 8:48:56 AM # Q
RE: Palm Doesn't Need a Savior
LiveFaith @ 8/30/2008 9:07:31 AM # Q
Hey,
Don't be so sure about the pessimism. You never know what can happen when you implement 3.5mm audio across the board, an 8K clipboard limit, and a multi-threaded OS that allows simultaneous programs to lag at once! I'm holding out.

Pat Horne
RE: Palm Doesn't Need a Savior
joad @ 8/30/2008 7:45:56 PM # Q
Well, Android is coming out very soon. Ought to be an interesting year for smartphones, we'll see if there's anything left of Palm by Q4 2009...


Paying my annual PDA update tax to Palm since 1997.
RE: Palm Doesn't Need a Savior
LiveFaith @ 8/31/2008 9:11:13 AM # Q
Wow. Another ANALyst is about 9-12 months late delivering the proper info. What else is new.

Pat Horne
Reply to this comment

Future events will affect us in the future

mikecane @ 8/30/2008 9:35:38 AM # Q
Thus saideth Criswell.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xes0F36eTJA

Go on, you know you want to click it:
http://www.jeffkirvin.net/2008/08/19/palms-game-changing-hardware/

Unfortunately, past speculations about what the Foleo was to be cannot be found.

RE: Future events will affect us in the future
hkklife @ 8/30/2008 11:39:33 AM # Q
First off, Nova & devices running it will NEVER appear

Secondly, if they DO appear, they'll be buggy as hell, ala the worst of the OS5 era (T|T, T5, Treo 650, LifeDrive, 700p).

And I'd expect Nova's debut device to look & be spec'd astonishingly similarly to the Treo Pro. In fact, it'll probably be the exact same device (at best).

Palm has ZERO interest in larger screens/resolutions. Yankowski said they were well-positioned to do 'em back in 2000. It took untl 2003 to get the T3 out and it tried to hide its glorious 320x480 LCD behind the wobbly slider and then crippled it with a hidiously weak battery. THEN after a few more blips (T5, LD, TX) Palm retreated to the relative safety of the high-margin, lower-spec smartphone market. Palm's beancounters adore 320x320 screens attached to keyboards and batteries of constantly diminishing size and usability.

I have ZERO reason to believe that Palm will break the 320x320 barrier, unless they decide to jump on 640x640 or something oddball. It may be a physically larger, high-resolution LCD but it still will be a square screen.

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: Future events will affect us in the future
SeldomVisitor @ 8/30/2008 12:58:16 PM # Q
> First off, Nova & devices running it will NEVER appear...

At this particular point in time, I would not bet on that.

Might bet on it in a month or so, but not at THIS moment in time.

> ...Secondly, if they DO appear, they'll be buggy as hell, ala the
> worst of the OS5 era (T|T, T5, Treo 650, LifeDrive, 700p)...

Now THAT I would be on now, next month, and next year!

Reply to this comment

LIVE pics of T-Mobile Google phone

mikecane @ 8/30/2008 11:56:39 AM # Q
http://justamp.blogspot.com/2008/08/new-htc-dream-live-pics.html

God, that is many shades of FUGLY!!!

And WTF is up with this:
http://tinyurl.com/6yfptz

- yeah, go on, TRY to thumb type with that huge frikkin thing blocking your right paw!!

Yet look at this:
http://tinyurl.com/6rm66r

Hey, see that, Palm? Those are called TYPEFACES! Not this decades-old crap you've been using for letters!

So, how many of you are ready to jump now?

RE: LIVE pics of T-Mobile Google phone
LiveFaith @ 8/31/2008 1:39:46 PM # Q
Typefaces! Bice, but what about that screen. Palm, back us up to Palm OS 2.0, but just give us something besides the SSS.

Pat Horne
Reply to this comment

What are Palm fans being loyal to?

bbtkd @ 8/30/2008 5:41:25 PM # Q
OK - I've been a Palm user/fan for perhaps 10 years. But when I think about it, what would I really miss if I had to switch to another smartphone? Any smartphone would have calendar, contact, todo/task, and the other basics - and they would have similar features, probably some even better. OK - so what third-party software would I miss? I play a particular Golf solitaire game a lot, and I have not seen another that I like. So have I been forcing myself to put up with all of the Treo issues just because of some damn solitaire game? Are you holding on for a similarly trivial reason?

I really believe Palm OS will be finished off by the Google phone (or some other) when they come out with the ability to import the Palm calendar and contacts, and have skins and/or similar features to ease Palm users into it. Sure, POS2 or whatever they end up calling it might offer the dubious advantage of running POS games in a compatibility mode, but these are always a compromise. Any stable smartphone with basic features (calendar, contacts, tasks, etc), with a keyboard, multitasking and touch screen will work for me. If crackberry added a touch screen (and kept the keyboard) I'd switch now. I recently switched from the 700P to the Centro and while this was a good move, I'd switch to the Pro if VZW offered it. Nice phone, and the OS should not matter as long as it is multitasking and stable.

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
joad @ 8/30/2008 8:40:02 PM # Q
For me:

-Pocket Quicken (it's predecessor, Qmate, was the reason I came to Palm).
-Comet Phone Log
-Remote Desktop
-Actionnames/Agendus
-Snappermail
-LauncherX
-(a couple of local public transit schedulers)
-Vindigo
-Popcalc
-Secret

..you know, I have a bunch of other software I've accumulated over the past 11+ years, but they're becoming less and less important to me as the developers either stop maintaining them or charge ridiculous prices on every "upgrade" (update).

The more I think about it - good PIM support, a financial sync add-on, a password keeper (that doesn't wipe as Blackberry's does), easily navigable menus and launcher, and a few other things. Although I've had and supported many BB and WinceMob devices over the years, there was some dealkiller inherent in the design of them both that kept me stuck with Palm.

BB has a miserable keyboard, awful launcher (but great menus), no touchscreen, not enough software. WinceMob is still klunky, feels like a mini-desktop instead of scaled properly for a handheld, is too "busy," and has always been vastly underpowered. Though the third-party software on both platforms are finally starting to look interesting.

If either of these competitors, or even Android manages to do a few smart things they can eat whatever lunch Palm has left on the table. Keep making the keyboards more Centro-like and the batteries and screens smaller, and there won't be any reason to stick with Palm at all...


Paying my annual PDA update tax to Palm since 1997.

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
joad @ 8/30/2008 8:46:47 PM # Q
Oh yeah - forgot Tealauto...


Paying my annual PDA update tax to Palm since 1997.
RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
SeldomVisitor @ 8/31/2008 2:31:45 AM # Q
> ...Keep making the keyboards more Centro-like...

For some now-forgotten reason, I believe the "Centro keyboard" doesn't have the patent-royalty-hit that the "smile keyboard" has.

So if Palm did some minimal market research that asked something like:

== "Do customers see any significant difference in the two after purchase?"

and got "No" as an answer, then the "Centro keyboard" makes good economic sense.

Then again, maybe the OTHER phone manufacturers asked during THEIR market research:

== "Do potential customers see any significant difference in the two before purchase?"

and got "Yes" as an answer, then the "smile keyboard" makes good economic sense.

Or maybe the "smile keyboard" has a more significant hit outside The States.

=====================

Does anyone see any =physical= reason for the Centro-style over the smile-style? I sure don't.

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
LiveFaith @ 8/31/2008 5:26:28 AM # Q
Smile keyboard allows larger keys in the same horizontal space, while eating vertical space.

Pat Horne
RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
hkklife @ 8/31/2008 7:35:11 AM # Q
SV;

I seem to distinctly remember us discussing back in June or so that RIM held the patent for ALL "miniaturized QWERTY" keyboard, regardless of "smile" shape, key material composition etc. So basically Palm and everyone else just have to suck it up and pay royalties no matter what.

I think Palm just cheapened out yet again (what a surprise) with the Centro "gel sheet" keyboard fro the Pro. They either said "Hey, straight looks cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing", Hhey, straight will make people think of out hot, hip new Centro", or, most likely, "We gotta save a few bucks somewhere with all of this other goodness we're putting in the Pro so we'll economize on the keyboard"

One of the hallmarks of the Treo line has always been its keyboard size/quality. If Palm's going to stick us with expensive devices that have both small 320x320 screens AND nigh-unusable Centro style, non-"smile" keyboards, then they can go shove it.

IMO the Treo keyboard layout peaked with the Treo 650, took a slight step back on the 700-series, took another small step back on the 680/750/755, and then has really regressed with the Centro/Treo 500/Pro. I haven't used an 800w to comment on it but it looks to be the same or only a smidgen smaller than the 680/750 style.

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
SeldomVisitor @ 8/31/2008 7:49:20 AM # Q
Ahem - actually, I think we disagreed on what was patented and the post just above was a continuing reflection of what I vaguely remember - the actual patent isn't on "keyboard size" but on "keyboard shape".

But, again, I have no idea why I have that relatively-ancient "memeory" (this thought comes from probably years ago).

=============

BTW - "size" is one of those things that probably is NOT a factor for determining uniqueness of idea (that makes something patentable). That is, keybaords have been around since the late 1800s, probably, and varying their size isn't gonna get you a new patent. But I'm no patent lawyer.

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
SeldomVisitor @ 8/31/2008 7:51:00 AM # Q
Is the Centro keyboard and Treo Pro keyboard the SAME keyboard!?

If so, Palm could save on manufacturing costs if they use a quantity order (maybe).

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
joad @ 8/31/2008 9:53:40 AM # Q
^^ Sure looks like it. The tiny Centro keys and linear layout probably work fine for fingers of children (the Centro market). But- Palm is really screwing the pooch by wrecking one of the only things left that made the Treo a unique premium device - that "smile" keyboard that works well with fingers of people older than 15 years old.

Between dumping standard SDIO (cheapest, fastest, largest capacity) in favor of MiniSD and MicroSD (jeez Palm - pick ONE!), dropping battery capacity down and down as they finally increased functions, and other boneheaded moves - it's amazing they have anyone competent enough to design a box for them.


Paying my annual PDA update tax to Palm since 1997.

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
Gekko @ 8/31/2008 10:48:15 AM # Q

1. i like the tiny centro keyboard. most people just need to enter SMALL amounts of data on their mobile device (short emails, texts, quick note, Google search, etc.) - not for writing friggin novels.

2. yeah, amazingly, RIM was able to win the patent on the smile keyboard.

3. microSD is awesome. i like having having killer memory on such a tiny little chip. microSD is the future, most modern devices use itm SD and miniSD is the floppy disk of today. welcome to 2009.

4. i like Centro over iPhone because -

a. functionally better PIM (on Device and Palm Desktop)
b. carrier choice - Sprint $99/month unlimited everything
c. known/comfortable PIM/OS - like an old shoe - you like what you know.
d. no money added to thumb-up-ass liberal steve job's wallet nor do i ever have to deal with those hipster apple store employee weirdos.
e. better excel/word support - docs to go.
f. PIC - what would i do without all of you schmoes?
g. microSD expansion


RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
hkklife @ 8/31/2008 11:28:51 AM # Q
I haven't fondled a Pro yet of course, but from what Ryan's told me and what I've read elsewhere, the Pro's keys are slightly larger & ever-so-slightly wider apart. I believe the "feel" is a bit different too (not as squishy). It's still the same "single printed sheet of membrane keys" process, it's just not like it was lifted directly off of the Centro.



Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
SeldomVisitor @ 8/31/2008 11:46:57 AM # Q
I looke dfor and found, somewhere (here?), a comparison photo of the Pro and the Centro (and something else) - the keyboards look identical except for a couple out-lying keys (which, understandably, COULD easily be slightly different in shape without messing up the circuitry underneath).

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
LiveFaith @ 8/31/2008 1:44:18 PM # Q
I think Kris is right. In a comparison I saw, it looked like the Pro had keys separated ever so slightly more.
Also, someone mentioned fondling one. Where could this be done anywhoo? A Palm airport store?

Pat Horne
RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
SeldomVisitor @ 8/31/2008 3:28:54 PM # Q
Yes, it looks like they're a tiny bit further apart in this photo (I do not know if this was a side-by-side or photoshoped photo, though):

- http://blog.treonauts.com/2008/05/treo-850-specif.html

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
mikecane @ 9/1/2008 3:44:04 PM # Q
>>>f. PIC - what would i do without all of you schmoes?

You have a sad, sad life, Gekko.

RE: What are Palm fans being loyal to?
dagwud @ 9/1/2008 7:12:49 PM # Q
Joad hit the nail on the head. I'm "loyal" to my Palm TX because of all the 3rd party software to which I've gotten accustomed. It's been less of a hassle to upgrade my Palm OS unit than to find alternatives.

That's not to say that alternatives don't exist. It's just a pain to convert from one program to another and have to re-enter all the data.

-
PalmPilot Pro (1997) -> III (1998) -> Vx (1999) -> m500 (2001) -> m515 (2002) -> Tx (2007)

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