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Palm In Trouble Again

Gordon Kelly


Palm In Trouble Again

It looks like wolf is back knocking on the door...

Palm is once more facing an uncertain future this week after posting third quarter financial results which suggest that for all the promise of web OS it had merely stalled an inevitable decline.

The key points: a loss of $22m over the last three months and - more worryingly - just 408,000 of the 960,000 Pre/Pre Plus and Pixi/Pixi Plus models it shipped to telcos over the last three months actually found buyers. This figure of 408,000 is down 29 per cent on Q2 and 15 per cent year on year suggesting the public is fast losing interest.

"Our recent underperformance has been very disappointing, but the potential for Palm remains strong," said Palm chairman and CEO Jon Rubinstein as he tried to put a brave face on things. "The work we're doing to improve sales is having an impact, we're making great progress on future products, and we're looking forward to upcoming launches with new carrier partners. Most importantly, we have built a unique and highly differentiated platform in webOS, which will provide us with a considerable - and growing - advantage as we move forward."

Well yes and no Jon. The bigger problems are threefold: when you wowed the world at the unveiling of web OS and the Pre at CES 2009 you then took six months to launch it in the US and a whopping 10 1/2 months to ship it internationally. The world had moved on. Secondly, despite the huge potential of web OS (it multi-tasks more elegantly than any mobile platform on the market) Palm does not have the financial clout to develop it at the speed it needs to in order to compete with iPhone OS and Android. Lastly, this means web OS has not caught the imagination of third party developers so the 'App Catalog' remains bereft of quality applications and consequently the type of purchases that tie users to a platform long term.

Of course Palm may yet rise once more from the ashes with some stunning new handset, though the disappointing incremental nature of the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus (pictured) don't bode well. Consequently, much as it pains me to say it, I think the time has come for one of the major Asian giants such as Samsung or LG to step in and put Palm out of its misery. Both LG and Samsung are wizards at producing formidable hardware, but when it comes to building an attractive and intuitive OSes, their end results have been about as useful as a brain surgeon in boxing gloves.

So let me spell it out once more for the cheap seats: Palm you had a brilliant vision, but you don't have the resources to develop it. Dear Samsung/LG buy Palm, make web OS your core platform, throw your millions at its development team and crowbar it onto such stunning hardware as the Beam and Mini GD880. Problems solved.

Sheesh. Do I have to do everything...


Press Release


March 19, 2010, 12:54 pm

I would like to add to that list of mistakes;

Its only on one carrier

Can't buy the pre unlocked

No expandable memory, this is the reason I totally gave up on it as 8gig just isn't enough.

WebOs looks great and that cards system is a killer feature but the above problems just make a bad purchase.

Now while I'm complaining, why do I have to log onto this site to comment? Doesn't matter if I'm

On opera, Firefox or my phone (llike now) I have to log in each and everytime as it wont keep me logged in. Its so annoying. LG or Samsung should buy you and sort that out!


March 19, 2010, 1:30 pm

Sega Dreamcast of phones?

Besides if HTC bought Palm you would here Apple screaming for the hills the amount of patents Palm holds.


March 19, 2010, 1:36 pm

I really really wanted to buy a Palm Pre. Then they went exclusive with O2 in Ireland, which left the minimum cost of the Pre at about &#8364820 over 18 months for about &#836410 worth of calls a month.

So I bought a Hero.

Sorry Palm, you made the wrong call.


March 19, 2010, 1:38 pm

@Runadumb I agree about it not keeping you logged in across sessions. The site is being redeveloped i think and i am sure that this feature will be included. At least i hope it will!


March 19, 2010, 2:47 pm

@Hallainzil Completely agree about the exclusive network deal they did with O2, it was a massive wrong call imo.


March 19, 2010, 2:55 pm

Yep, agree with all the comments above, going exclusive with only one carrier in the UK (O2) who also had (at the time) an exclusive with the iPhone meant that the Palm was dead in the water before it even had a chance over here, especially when the phone cost and tariffs were exactly the same between the two phones, only hardened anti-apple fans wouldve bought the phone in that case

It really needed to go with another carrier (T-mobile, 3 perhaps) who could undercut the iPhone and start a price war. Heres hoping Gordons right and another manufacturer buys Plam (or at least licences web OS) and gets it out in more devices


March 19, 2010, 3:13 pm

I'd much rather Palm remain independent, keep the innovation flowing as it were. Just a shame that cash is required to grease those innovative wheels. A joint venture or subsiduary relationship could benefit them. HTC over Samsung any day, I don't like feeling like my handset could disintegrate any moment.

I'd agree with all the comments re. locking the Pre to one carrier. Combine paltry network service with no need to offer competitive rates, and you'll sell very few phones. I'd've done anything for a Pre, except sign up to O2.


March 19, 2010, 4:12 pm

Give me a better battery life and cheaper tariff prices and I'd buy one.


March 19, 2010, 4:46 pm

Yep, like many, the original concept looked attractive. I was sold on it but lacked the cash at the time. But time proved that Palm could not deliver in a cut throat and fast changing market. They just ran out of steam. <face er palm>

I third (?) the login in every time you visit gripe! Lets have this sorted guys.. So c'mmon TR 'make it so Picard!'


March 19, 2010, 4:48 pm

O2 priced at iPhone prices, and I'm sorry Palm, but the build quality just isn't that high. The slider twists too much, it needed to be more solid (N95 would be a good example).

The OS is excellent though, and being updated with regular improvements.

I think its an easier OS to use than Android or Windows Mobile, its a cleaner OS than Symbian and on par with iPhone (depending on your requirement for fart apps or multitasking!)

However my next phone is likely to be an Android, more market behind it, with a nicer range of handsets...but if Palm and Samsung follow your advice then a Samsung built WebOS would be nice!


March 19, 2010, 5:27 pm

Give me a much better keyboard(soooo tiny and fiddly, hardware that feels solid, and an app store worth shouting about and I'm sold.

Adam Foreman

March 19, 2010, 6:12 pm

The Palm Pre Plus is rumoured to be in the UK on O2 this coming April. If that's true, we may see may see sales improves as the newer PLUS version has all the original issues that were aimed at the 1st generation version almost taken care of, with the exception of an microSD expansion slot.

If I were Palm, I'd sell my phones to any carrier that wished to sell them. Forget exclusivity for one moment. How does that improve cash flow? How does market your phones?

It's really sad because the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi and their newer PLUS versions are great phones.


March 19, 2010, 6:59 pm

I still can't even buy one over here (the Netherlands). I can already get an HTC Legend if I want to, but not a Palm Pre. And I agree with the others here, don't do carrier exclusive deals.


March 19, 2010, 7:48 pm

I had a Pre as an upgrade and collected it on the UK Launch day.

I really wanted to like it, but just didn't get on with it. Personally I felt the build quality was fine, but the OS was not ready for primetime - it lacked basic user customisation elements that would have cost very little development effort. Battery life was poor, even with an extended battery, and WebOS Updates for European end users lagged far behind US releases.

I had it (in total) for about 5 months, and used it for about 1 month in total.

In the end I sold it on eBay, and went back to Android on an HTC Magic before picking up a Nexus One.


March 19, 2010, 8:08 pm


And how are you finding your nexus one? Ive had mine around 6 weeks now and love it but its a buggy SOB. Touchscreen goes mental at random times and sometimes I cant sent texts, data or both even though I have 3 bars of reception.

@Adam Foreman if palm do indeed release the plus versions here on multiple carriers and (god forbid) even UNLOCKED then they may make much more headway. Trouble is, people like me will be waiting to see what the Pre2 has in store. Pre just seems "old" now


March 19, 2010, 10:20 pm

That's interesting because the advice that caught my attention from another tech analyst was for RIM to buy Palm, which makes more sense, since Blackberry badly need a better OS and browser, and Palm have it but as you said, no assets to develop it and create a killer phone.


March 19, 2010, 10:21 pm

Why pay palm to license the OS when you can wait another 6 months an buy the company for virtually nothing ... they are going down the river fast ... won't be long now


March 19, 2010, 11:58 pm


Wow - I must have a charmed one. No real problems at all for me after about 4 weeks - I did have an unexpected reboot today but that was when pulling data from O2's dodgy tower in Stevenage by my office. That tower's caused problems over 2 years with 4 different phones...

Never had a problem sending / receiving texts etc, no Touchscreen problems.. Just waiting on 2 docks ordered a couple of days ago to complete the accessories set (for now)..


March 22, 2010, 2:10 pm


Get Nokia to purchase Palm, add Palm's patents to the ongoing suit and annihilate Apple.


March 22, 2010, 3:05 pm

As was said on these forums when they launched exclusively with O2 it would be a disaster and so it came to pass......

Who the heck in managing Palm they made such a fundamental mistake? Don't they teach anything on MBA courses nowadays?

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