Palm Looks for a Helping Hand

April 13, 2010 by · Comments Off on Palm Looks for a Helping Hand
Filed under: Business, Technology 

In the past couple of days Palm’s stock (NASDAQ: PALM) has soared from around $3.5 to above $6 (from a 52 week high of $18 by the way) amidst rumors of an imminent buyout.  The question in my mind is who wants to pay close to a billion dollars for a company that looses $100M a quarter, has no cash, and it is debt ridden?  A fraction of that money will get any company in the smartphone game.  Most are already there, arguably with a little excess as I pointed out here.

Granted, their products are good, WebOS is a neat idea, but they have lost the clout they once had.  It is sad to see a Palm, in a way the inventor of the category suffer this fate.  But hey, in this industry you have to listen to Bob Dylan: “You’d better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, ’cause the times they are a-changing.”

So what happened to Palm?  Execution and focus, lack of them, that is.  Back in the late 90’s with an explosive IPO after a spin-off of US Robotics everything looked rosy.  But they got greedy instead of focused.  But as Michael Douglas said in Wall Street: “Greed is good”.  No question but greed has to have a source.  And my fellow reader (singular) that has to be your products, not Wall Street itself!  It is my theory that Palm, as many other great corporations get too caught up in Wall Street’s metrics, quarters, and their leaders making money off of money alone, that they loose focus on the main thing:  Their products.  Countless corporations (Google, Apple, Toyota, Ford, etc.) are the opposite: they have focused on creating the best products or services, and Wall Street follows.

Greed is indeed good, but with a focused source.

Enjoy.

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Blackberry running out of juice?

June 18, 2009 by · Comments Off on Blackberry running out of juice?
Filed under: Technology 

Blackberry 957

Research in Motion, responsible for those of us “thumb-typing” all day long and undoubtedly king of the smart phone market announced quarterly results today. Impressive!! They beat analyst estimates again. Yet, the stock traded at some point after hours almost 10% below yesterday’s close (it has then recovered all but the last 2% or so). Is the Blackberry is running out of juice (I hate puns!) at last?

People buy things because of the things these things do (whaaat?). Applications are what sell devices, not the devices themselves. Sure a sexier iPhone will sell better than an ugly one but first and foremost you have to want to do what the iPhone does before you consider it.

Continue …

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The battle for the Smart Phone is on!

June 14, 2009 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Technology 

Palm-Pre

The industry seems desperate to find an alternative to the iPhone so far with no success. Palm (the inventor of the category in a way) launched last week the “pre” a successor to the “pro” (pretty creative naming) that is supposed to be what we’re all been waiting for. Based on what Palm calls WebOS (do not try to pronounce it in Spanish) which is really a WebKit browser on top of a Linux kernel. It is to me just another “clever phone”, pretty well designed, but just a follow up.

The phone looks promising with a full touch screen, a sliding qwerty keyboard, a well thought out user interface and a great webkit browser. It is really an adequate challenger to the iPhone’s kingdom. The problem is the partner carrier. Sprint has been losing customers since the Nextel acquisition (at the tune of 300K/month at some point!) that did not go well at all. It has the worst coverage in the US and the least amount of international carrier partnerships. It has put all its eggs in the 4G JV with Clearwire and has not invested enough in the mundane 3 or 3.5G. If it wasn’t enough, the Pre is built on the CDMA technology, which is great, but very few carriers in the world support it. One will hope they thought about it and they are cranking an HSPA version as we speak for AT&T and most of the world. Better yet, a dual mode (like the Blackberry Storm) that supports both technologies in the same device. But for the Pre to stand a chance, it needs to find other carriers pronto.

The battle for the smart phone kingdom currently dominated by Research in Motion (aka RIM) the creator of the Blackberry with the most successful lineup in the industry that seems to yet unchallenged (yeah even by the iPhone). The interesting thing is that Windows Mobile (WM), the first mobile OS with (sort of) a real mobile browser after WEP is falling behind, way, way behind. LG, Motorola, Samsung, HTC, and others serve up WM phone of varying success but no where near what RIM has been able to accomplish. When in 2006 there were twice as many WM phones shipped than any other smart phone.

Now, there is still the battle of the App Stores where Apple has an apparently unbeatable lead. Palm has not announced its store yet (as RIM has) but the Pre is iTunes compatible…weird thing. Is it a play for the true alternative to the iPhone or is it something else like someone getting ready to buy Palm? Who knows. But in any case, Nokia failed miserably with its store, RIM’s success is yet to be seen, and Windows’ App store, well …, will be Windows: late and not so impressive.

This battle brings memories of the glorious days of the RAZR, where everybody had one but Moto still sold 100M phones until it fell off a cliff with no true follow up. Will the iPhone follow the same fate? and the Pre, HTC-magic, G2, Moto-Q, STORM, Dare, and all sorts of weird unimaginative names – all probably registered trademarks – being the “me too’s” will also fall into oblivion soon? Check out a great comparison here.

A real mobile internet is what is needed. Check my other post What’s next after the iPhone and tell me what you think.

Enjoy.

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