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6/12/2009
07:35 AM
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Confessions Of A Palm Ex

It's ironic that I had made the decision to totally abandon the Palm platform just as the Pre was announced. For me, Palm's efforts were just too little, too late. I had put up with the complete lack of updates, the poor memory management, the frequent crashes. the fleeing developers, and hung on in desperate hope that a real platform might emerge. But finally, Palm, I started seeing other people. And it's working out fine, thank you, and I don't want to get back together.

It's ironic that I had made the decision to totally abandon the Palm platform just as the Pre was announced. For me, Palm's efforts were just too little, too late. I had put up with the complete lack of updates, the poor memory management, the frequent crashes. the fleeing developers, and hung on in desperate hope that a real platform might emerge. But finally, Palm, I started seeing other people. And it's working out fine, thank you, and I don't want to get back together.Analysts all over the planet seem to be cautiously enthusiastic about Palm, the Pre, and Sprint. But I ended an abortive relationship with Sprint some years ago. So this all seems like, "massive platform neglect, meet horrible customer service. You should get married and be miserable together." Sorry, I'm not even cautiously optimistic about this one.

On the surface, Palm & the Pre have a few things that seem to be positives:

  • The geeky findings of old-school video game references in the Pre's code is one of those brilliant "accidental" easter eggs that get geeks all abuzz. I hardly think that's by chance - nice move. But sending me an easter egg basket isn't getting me back.

  • A new CEO at Palm. Ok, so Rubinstein's an ex-Apple guy. Great. But here's my question. Are there enough people like him at Palm to help overcome the lethargy and neglect of the past decade?

  • A physical keyboard. But you know, since my breakup with Palm, I've been using a virtual keyboard, and somehow, my "BlackBerry thumb" syndrome seems better. I type pretty fast with it, too.

Angst aside about my ex, consider this from a strategic enterprise angle. How many platforms does IT want to support? In a world where many CIOs will entertain infrastructure offerings on three platforms - Juniper, Cisco, and HP - based on price & performance, how many really want to entertain a dysfunctional fourth wheel of confused product direction?

Sure, end-users don't typically ask for 3Com switches, but they might ask for a Pre. But RIM's BlackBerry and Apple's iPhone have both made some pretty darn significant inroads with mind share among end users. And if IT's offering iPhones, Blackberries, and/or Windows Mobile, do users have a reason to squawk?

Maybe Pre's webOS will replace Windows Mobile, but I kind of doubt it. Where are the apps? Who's going to develop for it? Does Palm have the hubris that they can, in the short success window allowed by Wall Street, create the kind of developer excitement that Android or iPhone has?

I agree that my ex has hit the gym and is looking gooooood. But Palm is going to have to prove that they can stay in the gym, diet and exercise, and be in it for the long haul, both with developers and the enterprise, before I'll even think about even taking my ex out to dinner.

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