Palm Ranks Last in Cellphone Satisfaction

A recent report from ChangeWave Research into cellphone customer satisfaction has ranked Palm dead last. In a January 2008 survey of 4,182 customers, only 30% of respondents using a Palm phone reported being "very satisfied" with their device. By contrast, first-place winner Apple's cultists customers came back with a stratospheric 72% and RIM a respectable 55%.

This trend has been apparent since two surveys previous, beginning with the ChangeWave report from July '07 that ranked Palm second-last.

Palm Ranks Last in Cellphone Satisfaction

Without further information on the respondent demographics it's difficult to draw any firm conclusions, but taken at face value this result should have warning klaxons blaring at Palm HQ. Provided they haven't tuned them out as background noise.

Paul Loeffler, a public relations rep at Palm, has posted a rebuttal and Palm's view, in the comments on this report.

Paul cites two recent reports by third-party research firms contracted by Palm (Satmetrix and Russell Research) that show a much different sentiment than what the ChangeWave survey suggests. The Satmetrix survey found that 65% of respondents rated their overall satisfaction with Palm as an 8-10 out of 10. Also, the Russell Research study found that 56% of respondents were either “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with their Palm smartphone device.

To be fair, the ChangeWave study can be somewhat misleading if you do not read the above graph carefully. The graph shows the specific percentage of customers who say they are very satisfied with their current device. The report does not disclose what the array of choices were in the questioning, and which specific device they used.

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sremick @ 2/12/2008 1:17:44 PM # Q
Just more evidence that the "me too" switch to converged devices was a mistake. Not only do most of Palm's customers not WANT converged devices, but Palm isn't even GOOD at it. Focus on the PDA! Outdo the iPod Touch! The T|3 needs a successor.
RE: Vindication
queueman @ 2/12/2008 1:48:19 PM # Q
I agree. I've been thinking about a Treo or Blackberry when it comes time to replace my Palm m515, but now I'm thinking it is more likely I will get another PDA, like a T|X. I don't want to pay $30 a month extra for a data package, that is of some value but not really a lot. I have mobile web on my LGVX 8350 and can access personal e-mail from there.

RE: Vindication
lemur @ 2/12/2008 8:07:35 PM # Q
Well, I don't know what "most" Palm customers want but I can tell you that *this* customer went from a Zire to a Treo precisely because he does not want to carry both a PDA and a cell phone. If Palm does not produce a next generation replacement for the Treo they will definitely lose me as a customer.

The problem with Palm is not that it started producing smartphones rather than only PDAs but that it pissed away its lead in a drunken waltz that went "lets split our company, lets merge, lets change names, lets use this OS platform, no this one, no that other one..." Instead on focusing on R&D, Palm was redecorating the house.

RE: Vindication
TrafficGeek @ 2/12/2008 11:25:57 PM # Q
I completely agree with Lemur. Hell I even stuck my neck out for the my neck is still hurting from that one.

I really hate to say this, but Palm is degenerating into the Britney Spear of the handheld world. Consider this as an intervention.

RE: Vindication
DarthRepublican @ 2/12/2008 11:42:59 PM # Q
There was nothing "me too" about Palm's original smartphones. In fact, Palm was at the forefront of the market in many ways with the Treo 600 and 650. Now, you can criticize Palm for not keeping up with the times as its OS has aged while other companies have moved ahead. But if it hadn't been for the Treo, Palm would not have survived as an independent company. The results from this survey are directly tied to the fact that Palm hasn't updated its devices enough in recent years.

Having said all that, the truth is that I never really bought into the convergence fad. Looking back at my usage patterns over the years, I went from carrying a Visor Platinum with several Springboard modules, including a VisorPhone, to carrying a Treo 270 and a Palm Tungsten E, to carrying a Treo 600 and a LifeDrive, to carrying a Treo 680, a Palm TX, and an iPod.

RE: Vindication
joad @ 2/13/2008 1:48:09 AM # Q
Well, Palm really showed _US_, didn't they?

While we were begging for RAM, stability, more functionality like WiFi, uSB2 and bluetooth that stays paired, Palm told us to "shut up" and that they would tell _US_ what a smartphone is. While Blackberry 8830 world smartphones are $99 with a contract, Palm gives a $250 (w/2-yr contract) "choice" of CDMA Sprint _or_ CDMA Verizon or GSM, they all use a mishmash of SD and/or SDHC or MiniSD or MicroSD, they have a skimpy amount of RAM and most apps still need to employ an external card for programs...

You gotta buy a separate WinceMob device if you even want to use WiFi, the battery life is shrinking instead of increasing anyway, and you have to dump all your flash cards, styli, cases, etc. every time Palm releases a bugfix...umm...err I mean "upgrade."

Gee wiz, Palm - isn't it amazing that the customers you thought you had by the gonads back in 2003 have gotten tired of being "played" over the past 5 years? You've even essentially killed off all your PDAs too. Even those who simply want an updated PDA - something you would think Palm could muster - are being shown the door.

At least you have that Fooleo that you wasted all the time on. Just saw it at Costco:


**Another vote for a >100MB RAM Treo**

RE: Vindication
dsaroff @ 2/13/2008 12:48:07 PM # Q
I don't know how you can say "most Palm customers don't want a converged device". I doubt you have any evidence to back that statement up.

Personally, I switched to a Treo last year from a Lifedrive (and before that a T3,T2,T1, Visor Deluxe, Pilot 5000) and I'm very happy. Frankly, I'm sorry I waited so long.

Why Palm has such poor user satisfaction, I don't know and it's worrisome (complexity, maybe?). But let's stick to the facts, and not make statements that I don't believe can be substantiated.

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It's just so old

adamsmark @ 2/12/2008 1:21:32 PM # Q
The idea of dumping my PDA/smartphone appeals to me on a lot of levels, apart from the practical aspect of having such a device. So if I'm stuck with something, it ought to work really well. I think the Palm Treo is a great idea, but it's, well, old and outmoded. The iPhone, despite not having a lot of (or any?) third-party software, is popular because it does its basic funcitons well, on a large screen. Palm, rather than expanding the size of the screen (NB: not the overall size of the unit), is shrinking its latest offerings, eliminating functionality.

How could we be satisfied?

"I believe in the atomic bomb."

Blogging at">

Palm V > Vx > Clie Peg T615C > T3 > Clie TH55 > T3 > Treo 650 > Treo 700p & T3!

RE: It's just so old
Poopie @ 2/12/2008 3:06:00 PM # Q

The iPhone, despite not having a lot of (or any?) third-party software...

Ahem... jailbreak apps and impending SDK aside, I have found many great *FREE* webapps for the iPhone that are equal to or better than the equivalent Palm apps I used to use.

I've also found that a large number of my Palm apps were "hacks" to add missing functionality that the iPhone already has.

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konfusedkris @ 2/12/2008 2:15:59 PM # Q
Cultist seems a little harsh!

RE: cultist
reidme @ 2/12/2008 2:34:23 PM # Q
I agree. The implication is that a company that has satisfied customers must be brainwashing them, when really all they're doing is not pissing them off.

RE: cultist
freakout @ 2/12/2008 3:49:52 PM # Q
there's meant to be a "strikethrough" on that word. my little joke. edit pending.

RE: cultist
anthonysjennings @ 2/12/2008 7:28:02 PM # Q
It wasnt an oversight, it was just bitterness. How could you continue to feel such loyalty to Palm when almost all of the majority of the articles on PIC are about how crap Palm is?

Even the recent highlight article about how smartphones increased in share conveniently forgot to mention that Apple was the reason behind that increase in share!

I'm not saying iPhone is the best .. I'm just saying be honest with yourself (yourselves) before you throw another few hundred dollars at a company who could give a sh*t about you and your needs.

RE: cultist
freakout @ 2/12/2008 10:06:25 PM # Q
It wasnt an oversight, it was just bitterness.

Oops! I didn't realise we had a telepath in our midst! Damn! You've seen right through my cunning scheme to sow discord about Apple, weakening them to the point where I can use my army of robot monkeys to install myself as its CEO! And then - the world!

Back to the drawing board, I guess.

Reply to this comment

why is there surprise?

nybble @ 2/12/2008 3:32:53 PM # Q
Honestly, is this surprising? The Treo's are now very unsatifying devices. On the one hand, they do a lot of stuff - and on paper that's really great. You aren't going to find much in the way of showstopping missing functionality there. It's just the actual having and using one that is unsatisfying, it does a lot of it, but it doesn't really do anything well. I used one for years and it's problems simply grew more and more frustrating.

Having a cheaper entry into the world is well and good and people are buying them, but that doesn't change the satisfaction level. I know people who love their iPhones, their Blackberries, their Sidekicks - I don't know one person who loves their Treo.

As for suggesting that the only reason the satisfaction rating of iPhone users is because they are Apple cultists is just the sort of thinking that Palm doesn't need. That's not why, people like the iPhone because even though it doesn't do a ton, it does what it does really well. And it works. And it upgrades just like that (compare and contrast with the fear and stress involved in upgrading a Treo).

Right now Palm needs to look around at what is working and change the way it's thought about things thus far. Maybe fire Colligan :). Steal a play or two from Apple, or RIM, whatever, add some extra twist to it, but really... something. Not bury it's head in the sand and say the only reason all these other companies are successful are because they have cult followings! wanh wanh wanh.

<> that is my tech blog. There are many like it, but that one is mine.

RE: why is there surprise?
freakout @ 2/12/2008 3:59:15 PM # Q
Nybble, i was just joking with the cultists thing. meant to be a "strikethrough" font on that word. correction pending.

But, personally, i really don't understand how Palm can rank dead last here. middle-of-the-pack, maybe, but not last behind even Motorola. The Centro is v. popular and Palm have always pushed the ease-of-use angle. despite the old OS, the Treo is still a very capable device.

But I do understand how Apple can rank first: the iPhone is still quite expensive - you could even go so far as to call it a luxury item - and not the kind of thing that people might purchase on a whim. if you've got one you've likely carefully evaluated the smartphone line-up available and decided iPhone is best for you. and surprise, surprise, those who choose carefully are happier with their device. Who'd have thunk it?

Oh, and you don't know one person who loves their Treo? Now you do. Hello! (waves) :P

RE: why is there surprise?
PacManFoo @ 2/12/2008 4:30:39 PM # Q
I think the term Very Satisfied is the key here. I've would imagine that the iPhone is much less complex in regards to syncing data and such. With Palm Desktop in the mess that it has been the last few years (Vista/Mac compatibility), no doubt this has made users less satisfied. I read on Palm's Blog a 755p user who was unsatisfied because in order to install the Rom update he couldn't use his Mac but instead had to go out and purchase a SD card or clear out his present SD card. So there is a better chance of someone saying they are Very Satisfied when their sync application works well then when they either can't sync or have problems doing so.

PDA's Past and Present:
Palm TX (Number 2)
Palm - IIIxe, Vx, M500, M505, Tungsten T, TX
Handspring - Edge, Platinum, Deluxe
Sony - SJ22
Apple - MP110, MP2000, MP2100
RE: why is there surprise?
Poopie @ 2/12/2008 4:33:45 PM # Q

the iPhone is still quite expensive - you could even go so far as to call it a luxury item

I call BS. Take *any* smartphone user with a voice and data plan and look at how much they spend for their device(s) and monthly service bills over two years, and I bet the difference between "budget" smartphones and "luxury" smartphones is hard to see -- if it exists at all.
RE: why is there surprise?
SeldomVisitor @ 2/12/2008 4:39:36 PM # Q
> ...The Centro is v. popular...

There is very little real data (lie ... none) to back up that statement in any concrete manner.

We have anecdotal "I talked to a store salesperson and he said..." and we have consistently-VERY-vague statements out of PALM at various earnings/conference calls saying the equivalent of "The Centro is selling well" with no numbers - EVER - to back it up.

RE: why is there surprise?
TooMuch @ 2/12/2008 5:25:17 PM # Q
Have had an iPhone twice now. Back to my Treo 680. Treo provides some basics the iPhone struggles at that are very important to my use - one touch dialing, faster text input, corporate support, etc. Most importantly, I can do it all rather quickly with one hand. (BTW. I am an all-Mac home. You know...a cultist.)

RE: why is there surprise?
freakout @ 2/12/2008 5:53:34 PM # Q
There is very little real data (lie ... none) to back up that statement in any concrete manner.

True, but I'd bet on the side of it being popular, rather than not, if this was any indication:

Coster says Centro sales may be exceeding expectations, “as the most popular device offered by the 16 Sprint (S) stores we surveyed across the nation.”

Not much to go on, but still something. The introduction of an additional SKU (the Pink one) would seem to bear that out.

I call BS. Take *any* smartphone user with a voice and data plan and look at how much they spend for their device(s) and monthly service bills over two years, and I bet the difference between "budget" smartphones and "luxury" smartphones is hard to see -- if it exists at all.

Yep. But most don't require you to stump up $399 at the outset. I know that'd be a hefty chunk out of my pay cheque.

RE: why is there surprise?
mikecane @ 2/12/2008 8:45:13 PM # Q
>>>you could even go so far as to call it a luxury item

Yeah, just like the LIFEDRIVE was, debuting at FIVE HUNDRED BUCKS!

And how about that MASSIVELY overpriced TX that's gathering dust and snickers at the few remaining counters Palm is paying to rent space at?

>>>you could even go so far as to call it a luxury item

-- no, but YOU could.

Irrelevance and Incompetence: They're Palm Things.

RE: why is there surprise?
freakout @ 2/12/2008 10:01:31 PM # Q
^^ $399 for a phone, with contract? Luxury item.

The Lifedrive, TX and other older Palms would be relevant to the discussion if they were included in this survey. They weren't. What's your point?

RE: why is there surprise?
tftp @ 2/12/2008 11:31:31 PM # Q
Hmmm. $400 on an iPhone. $400 for my unlocked 680. So I can't claim a price difference. The Treo does more, but am I more satisfied with it? NO. It crashes, hardware is flaky, battery life is terrible, etc. The iPhone does less but it makes you feel better because it is better constructed, is more reliable, the battery life is great, etc. (Hmmm... iPhone does less... kind of like the old Palm Zen thing, eh?)
RE: why is there surprise?
freakout @ 2/12/2008 11:57:59 PM # Q
$400 on an iPhone. $400 for my unlocked 680

Key word unlocked.

RE: why is there surprise?
nybble @ 2/13/2008 8:14:54 AM # Q
Ahh... sorry, didn't get the sarcasm in the post. I guess I'm sensitive since the apple fanboy reasoning's so prevalent in the media! :)

Still, I think it isn't too hard to see why Treo's last. I found my last years with the Treo's massively frustrating. Random resets, while it was in my pocket, that would have the phone come back on with the radio *off*. That was a big one. That happened daily. Upgrading the firmware (the very few times that happened), never a smooth process. Things of that nature were incredibly problematic for me. PocketTunes never really was great for me, maybe this problem has been solved, but manually moving over mp3's was a drag. Sync'ing with iTunes (or some major music player a must).

The Centro may be selling well, but again, that only proves that it's cheap - not an excellent device. Sell rate is an indicator of desire not satisfaction. In general, I think with the iPhone there maybe a showstopping lack of features for some - it definitely doesn't have nearly the breadth of functionality that the Treo has (although hopefully that's coming to an end soon, fingers crossed) and that probably doesn't happen to the Treo. But once you take that into account, The iPhone is a much more satisfying experience.

As for cost, I remember paying close to $400 for my replacement 650 when mine died. I'm just saying. I don't think that $400 in the context of smartphones is crazy expensive anymore for many people. Sure it's not competing against the Centro for business, but still.

<> that is my tech blog. There are many like it, but that one is mine.

RE: why is there surprise?
SeldomVisitor @ 2/13/2008 9:22:29 AM # Q
> ...we have consistently-VERY-vague statements out of PALM at various
> earnings/conference calls saying the equivalent of "The Centro is
> selling well" with no numbers - EVER - to back it up..."

Today CBSMarketwatch published another new-content-free article quoting Colligan saying:

== "Centro is selling better than we expected"

with nothing more solid than just that. No numbers, no Heads Up about cannabalization, nothing.

Whatta game!

RE: why is there surprise?
sbono13 @ 2/13/2008 11:58:27 AM # Q
72% of Centro buyers were not previous smartphone users per that article you refer to. That doesn't seem to leave a lot of room for cannabalization.

RE: why is there surprise?
SeldomVisitor @ 2/13/2008 1:06:10 PM # Q
You are using statistics improperly (didn't I just cite "How to Lie with Statistics": somewhere around here! Giggle...).

In any case, unless one knows how many of those Centro buyers would have bought Treos of some sort if the Centro weren't available one doesn't know cannibalization impact or not.

Unless, of course, one gets realtime numbers from Sprint and sees the day-to-day effect of Centro on those Treo sales.

[awhile back PALM management did admit the Centro was cannibalizing Treo sales more than expected but, of course, didn't say how much more:


RE: why is there surprise?
mikecane @ 2/13/2008 2:04:31 PM # Q
>>>The Lifedrive, TX and other older Palms would be relevant to the discussion if they were included in this survey. They weren't. What's your point?

Duhhhhh. An iPhone was cited on its price point as being considered a "luxury" item (guffaws repeat in PICLand).

Now let's see ... *8GB* or *16GB*, brighter screen, better OS, camera, BT/Wi-Fi, REAL BROWSER, Anywhere Internet (EDGE; which is as fast as WiFi in NYC, too bad for the rest of you!) vs...

What is it now, $300 TX? And it used to be a $500 LifeDrive.

As someone famously says here: Giggle.

(BTW, you want *real* "luxury" pricing? Go look at that WinMob from Sony, the Xperia!)

RE: why is there surprise?
freakout @ 2/13/2008 9:26:14 PM # Q
^^ Mike, 400 bucks for a phone is not chump change. As you just noted, the iPhone has a fairly long spec sheet, 90% of which the average phone buyer simply does not need and never will. If you're buying an iPhone, it's 'cause you've decided to spend more to get more. It's a luxury item.

(BTW, you want *real* "luxury" pricing? Go look at that WinMob from Sony, the Xperia!)

Ya, i know... it's still inspiring some serious lust though. I prefer exposed keyboards but that thing is oozing style. Except for the part where it runs WinMob, but hey, Sony did wonders with Palm OS from what I hear. Maybe they can do the same for WinMob.

RE: why is there surprise?
question fear @ 2/14/2008 10:38:37 AM # Q
Freakout, which 90% do you think consumer don't use from an iPhone? The wifi? The web browsing? The iPod functions?

I am only confused because it seems you don't like that it doesn't do enough (no 3rd party apps), but now it does too much, even without all the "functionality" of a palm???

And to be fair, I do agree with you that it's surprising Palm is on the very bottom behind Moto of all companies. But I would assume it's in large part due to the 700p backlash, which can't be helping their goodwill. Assuming that it took some time to collect that data, the majority of smartphone respondents might be a) pissed at the lack of 3G or wifi in the GSM flavors, or b) owned 700p's and therefore want to nail Ed Colligan in the head with them.

RE: why is there surprise?
hkklife @ 2/14/2008 11:12:19 AM # Q
The 700p was a disaster in every way. Probably the biggest black eye Palm has ever endured, even worse than the T3 SD card toasting episode, the Treo 650's NVFS launch bugs or the T5's terrible performance.

Well, the LifeDrive disaster IMO was worse than the 700p but it was a different kind of device, received much less attention for its problems by the press, did not carry a 2yr contract + monthly service charges, and didn't perform mission-critcial voice/phone functionality.

In addition to the above mishaps, Palm has released several overpriced, under-spec'd devices (Treo 700w/wx, 750, 755p) that failed to generate much excitement. I'd say the TX, 680 and the Centro are really the only critical and commercial successes Palm has had in the past 2-3 years (though the 750 has sort of settled into a comfortable groove as a business-centric handset).

Personally, I'm DELIGHTED to see this report and hope to see additional ones like it. Why? Despite my longstanding, unwavering preference for Palm OS devices as the premiere PIM/organizational devices on the market, I find Palm's phones utter rubbish. They are usually afflicted with any one of a number of issues, ranging from pitiful Bluetooth performance, poor reception, mediocre sound quality, underperformning speakerphones, no native voice dialing, awkward dialing screens etc etc. Simply put, Handspring's old telephony functionality shoehorned into Garnet is not the sort of thing that inspires confidence for anyone who absolutely requires reliable voice capabilties throughout the workday.

I have long carried two devices (PDA + small flip dumbphone) and still carry a small Motorola flip in addition to my rotten 700p. If Palm released a TX with an integrated EVDO radio and a high capacity battery tomorrow I would buy it immediately, no matter the price.

I recently had the occasion to purchase and use a throwaway Motorola pre-paid phone ($30 + airtime) when my regular phone died while traveling. I was astonished to find this bargain basement little prepaid job ran circles around my 700p in every aspect related to placing and receiving voice calls.

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

RE: why is there surprise?
freakout @ 2/16/2008 6:59:29 PM # Q
I am only confused because it seems you don't like that it doesn't do enough (no 3rd party apps), but now it does too much, even without all the "functionality" of a palm???

My point wasnt that it does too much - speaking as a longtime geek, pocket computers can never do 0enough - but rather that the average person just doesn't care about the features in their phone apart from the ease-of-use and the looks. everything else is just icing. Thus, the free" phones you get when signing a new contract are usually enough to satisfy people.

I like the iPhone. it's pretty and the web browser is superb. I intensely dislike the hype that surrounds it, and especially the way that its held up nowadays as the benchmark for the smartpone market, when in truth it lacks many, many features that we have long since taken fo granted.

apologies for typos and incoherence. it was my birthday yesterday. big party last night. i had two-thirds of a bottle of wild turkey to myself. my brain is not in a good place right now

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xpan @ 2/12/2008 4:06:26 PM # Q
as long as sanyo and LG are in the same diagram with Palm, I rest my case.

The only thing that worries me is that the iPhone hype affects companies so much that everyday more dumbphones with useless touchscreens appear...

Reply to this comment

phone service is crucial

radleyp @ 2/12/2008 4:18:16 PM # Q
I simply don't understand this survey. To be usable, a phone obviously requires good service. The iphone is a phone and it either works as a phone or it doesn't. Where I live, in northern Westchester county in New York, AT&T service is poor and calls cannot be made in many parts of my house. When we switched to Verizon, this problem disappeared - the phone worked anywhere. SO, the iphone is of absolutely no interest to me, because AT&T provides bad service. In all this discussion, I see no mention of service, only hardware, and where phones are concerned that is secondary, at least for me.

RE: phone service is crucial
TreoAnon @ 2/13/2008 12:52:12 AM # Q
Yes, something stinks about this so called survey. AT&T are the lowest rated carrier, but the iPhone is only available on AT&T and has the highest rating.

I wonder if their investment business has introduced a bias here? They do not look like an independent survey company, and their carefully spun conclusions and lack of detail seems aimed at driving Palm stock down, and not surprising they offer a variety of appropriate investment service including shorts and options.

RE: phone service is crucial
SeldomVisitor @ 2/13/2008 5:19:45 AM # Q
Though doubting statistics as presented is a Good Thing ( ), I easily can imagine a national (global?) survey rating a carrier being bad while a phone being carried only (national speaking only, of course) on that carrier is rated best.

RE: phone service is crucial
sbono13 @ 2/13/2008 12:11:07 PM # Q
Sprint, not AT&T, is consistently the lowest rated carrier.

Reply to this comment

treo as a telephone

mnburnham @ 2/13/2008 1:56:21 PM # Q
The Palm parts of the Treo755p are great, except when it crashes. The Sprint data pack is very useful. However, as a telephone it is just flaky. About half the time when I pull the thing out to answer a call, it hangs up on the caller. If I do get connected, I have a hard time hearing, because I pressed the Call Volume Down button while I was getting it out of my pocket. I use a Plantronic bluetooth headset, and every time I want to place a call, I have to check voicemail first to make sure the bluetooth link has decided to work.

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