NYT: Palm "taking on giants" | webOS Nation

NYT: Palm "taking on giants" 43

by Jonathan I Ezor#IM Wed, 18 Nov 2009 2:34 pm EST

Palm takes on rivals

Saul Hansell of the New York Times recently penned an interesting feature on Palm. Hansell opened the piece by describing Palm as a "mouse" in "a land of cellphone giants" including Apple, Research in Motion, Google, Microsoft and Nokia, then interposes comments by Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein with analyst thoughts to show both Palm's strengths and supposed weaknesses. At one point in the piece, Tero Kuittenen, an analyst with MKM Partners, describes how opinions have fluctuated since the Pre announcement in January:

“These emotional extremes reflect a handset market in profound turmoil,” said Tero Kuittinen, an analyst with MKM Partners. “Palm soared to $18 when people were expecting Pre to be a blockbuster. American tech bloggers went crazy over Pre and pronounced it to be the St. Paul following the iPhone Jesus,” he said. “Then Verizon started pushing Droid and the bloggers reversed. Now Pre was doomed and Android was going to take over the global handset market.”

There were a few other noteworthy points, including Rubinstein being quoted as saying, "Android, and the droid in particular, are designed for the techie audience...We [at Palm] are doing a more general product that helps people live their lives seamlessly." Given Palm's strong support for open-source development, easily modifiable code and other tech-friendly features of the Pre in particular, the idea that the Pre was not "designed for the techie audience" seems a bit odd, though Palm has repeatedly stated that they are pursuing customers that aren't current smartphone owners.

On the prospects for Palm with the addition of the Pixi to its lineup, analyst Kuittinen estimates that "Palm may be able to sell 10 million handsets next year," depending on adding carriers in Europe as well as the United States.

Oddly, notwithstanding the largely positive spin of the piece, The Times' headline changed between when the piece was first posted (and put into print) and the current online version. The original headline read, "Underdog Palm Takes on Giants in Smartphones," but the current version has morphed to, "Is Palm's Comeback Losing Steam?" There's no explanation either in or accompanying the piece for the change, and little indication in the article that Palm's comeback may be "losing steam."

Setting aside the title change, the article paints a generally good picture of Palm's current and future prospects, especially with the release of the down-market Pixi to fill the Centro role with which Palm was so successful in the past.


"Is Palm's Comeback Losing Steam?"

i guess the editor who is an apple fan boi came back from vacation.


The Pre and Pixi can never be considered mainstream while relying on the equivalent of jailbreaking to make it work properly. Almost every answer to a problem raised by average people on Precentral is to install Preware and apply patches. That pretty much pegs it as a techie only device.

Do you really think Palm intends on patching being the solution to everything? With update 1.3.1 two of the seven patches I used were made obsolete by Palm solutions. In my opinion patches are short term solutions or modifications for specific needs. I'm confident palm will address most of the main stream problems so we will eventually not need the patch for those. I understand you may not want to wait. But I'm OK with using a patch until the permanent solution arrives.

I'm very curious, which patches did you drop after 1.3.1?

The only patch I can think of is txt forwarding. I don't use that though.

ummm, please read forums more often. Text forwarding was included in 1.3.1 which would explain why its no longer a patch. Go ahead.....touch a text. You'll go "oooooooooooohhhhhhhhh"

I have to agree with that sentiment. A couple of my friends bought the phone, not even knowing what a patch is. Luckily I'm pretty tech-saavy and got them up and running with all of that. It's a shame that certain basic functionality isn't built into the phone. I don't think think these can be called mainstream phones . .yet. Hopefully in the near future.

Hmmm... I am reasonably tech savvy but haven't bothered installing any patches. My Pre works just fine for me and also for my wife who is far less tech savvy. I don't understand where this perception that the device is inoperable without patching comes from. What's the must-have, the device sucks without it, patch(es) that everyone is so concerned about?

It gets me frustrated of how people just don't understand how much of a game changer flash will be. 100,000 apps for the iphone is nice. But with flash on the palm pre you can get 100,000 just in games alone, not to mention virtual keyboard and all the other cool stuff that is on the web. If only pal pre was to market the flash aggressively.

agree where are the ad's???? whats palm just sittin back chillin for

totally agreed! sometime i wondered does Palm know what is going on out there,or do they even look into Precentral that's where the Palm users' are base (complains)

only if it come up with the gpu support.
Otherwise, I can't imagine how laggy the webos would be when flash is brought in.

that's right, flash player will be one of the big changes. However the pre is NOT the only one who's getting it.

I agree with this too - this is going to open up a whole new world of available apps for the Pre.

And it's true other platforms will gain this ability as well, however if Palm can use its hardware advantages then it could be a real coup.

Oh, just to add some complete hearsay to the conversation, I've heard that "other" platform is not entirely enthused about Flash as it could compete with their store...

Flash is not a game changer unless implemented differently than we've ever seen it done before. It needs to be stable, fast, and efficient. No one is going to pick freeflashgames.com over actually games written for a phone.

If I could play games written in flash as an app (stored locally) then yes that could work. Maybe an Addictinggames.com app. Or newgrounds.com app.

When the Pre first came out, its detractors said that it could only run the equivalent of web apps. The fans rejected that notion, loudly declaring that it was just as capable as an iPhone. Now, the fans are putting their hopes on Flash to bring... wait for it... web apps.

By the way, that still would not make up any ground as the iPhone has thousands of great web apps also that are not in the app store. For the first year, the only iPhone apps were web apps, most of which were quite good. Palm does not need Flash; they need natively developed, WebOS apps.

I Love my Pre im in it till the end with palm

Same here. I've been a power user on every platform, and nothing truly outdid my Treo 600 until the Pre and webOS came along.

It funny, the internet articles being written of Palm and the Pre. I understand the reasoning for why articles are being written as though Palm is going down, or the Pre is no iPhone killer so why bother buying it? They are written for the sole purpose of atracting readers like me and PreCentral readers that get angry seeing such a retarded blowhard writting such garbage. It gets readers. That's it. Who wants to always read a rosy colored story of success when you can read about the impending doom of the same afflicted device? With that said, I am surprised that Jon Rubenstein implied his phone was not for techies. I mean, the shear simplicity of how the OS is written makes me, someone who's only barely scratched the surface of coding in HTML or using CSS, want to buy a book and start coding. And with ARES coming out soon, I'd be real interested since I have a small Visual Basic background. I'd love to learn it just for recreation. Think about it.... your friend asks you, "what did you do over the weekend?", "oh, I just wrote a few programs for my Palm Pre." Wanna check them out?

It frustrates me how poorly the Pre was marketed to its suppossed user base: the general public so that they can "live their lives seamlessly". The people that I know that have purchase the Pre were (1) technies that read blogs like this or (2) those that where in the market for a new cell phone and "just happened" to have someone showcase its wonders.

I think that Palm's release was the reason why the Pre's success was limited. This is unlike the Droid which has done a wonderful job of showcasing what it can do. To illustrate, a friend of mine that just purchased a Droid (who, by the way falls into the demographic that Rubinstein was referring to) was telling me how cool it was that his phone can sync with Facebook and Google contacts / calendar. I told him that the Pre does that too but also with Yahoo and Linked In. He paused and said that he wished he knew that before he bought the Droid so he could comparison shop.

Even now, when I walk into a Sprint store I see the sales people showing the Pre like it's "just another cell phone" not knowing half the stuff that it does. Sadly, I think the Pre has become just that to the general public: just another cell phone. Too bad - with more users (and thus adoption), the rate of development could be so much quicker. Alas, I fear for my investment and wonder if Palm will still be around in 2 years when my contract is up.

Give yourself a star. You get it..

Uuuugh!!! I hate it when authors do that with Palm-related articles: positive story, NEGATIVE title! The vast majority of people (including stock holders) read TITLES and move on!


Anyone who wants to take this issue up with the author (Saul Hansell) can send him a tweet to: @shansell

Good call. I tweeted him twice about it. Doubt he'll respond but would be interested in seeing his response. Positive article had a neutral headline, and then changed to a negative one even though the content of the article was unchanged. Lame.


I don't think the authors get to write the headlines. At least in print, they have always had to defer to whatever the editor feels will fit in the alloted space.

I HATE Fruit!

There's a huge user base of formerly loyal "techie" treo users who would love to be courted again by Palm...yet they seem to be completely content to completely ignore the previously existing user base in search of new, more ignorant "smartphone" users.

Also, the graphic designer doesn't seem to know the difference between a sling and a slingshot.

when i read that: Pre was not designed for the techie audience.... it made me laugh.....haters

haha yeah. I guess it's just a ploy to rope the mainstream crowd in. .hope it works!

This bit gave me a pretty good chuckle:

Mr. Rubinstein said Palm would never need as many applications as the iPhone.

That's certainly the right attitude, and Palm IS gearing up for an end-of-year blow-out. Can't wait.

I almost think that Palm is slowly integrating into our lives. Starting with the Pre (for us nerds), and then the Pixi for the "tween" audience. Then when they get everything nice and polished........ WHAM, they drop this HUGE WebOS 2.0 Device that parrallels the functionality of a desktop computer, in the palm of your hand. I no longer take my computer anywhere, I have most of it right here. I think this phone is awesome, but when it comes to mainstream america....I think they rather have a super smooth, pretty, patch free environment. Like the colors they chose for the stock UI, I'm willing to bet that if Palm chose something more slick, ie that carbon red theme, original blue theme, or even that "Classy Palm" theme. It'd sell more phones. People don't like to think, show them something that's "cute" or "shiney" and its in their hands! Lemme know what you think!

I almost think that Palm is slowly integrating into our lives. Starting with the Pre (for us nerds), and then the Pixi for the "tween" audience. Then when they get everything nice and polished........ WHAM, they drop this HUGE WebOS 2.0 Device that parrallels the functionality of a desktop computer, in the palm of your hand. I no longer take my computer anywhere, I have most of it right here. I think this phone is awesome, but when it comes to mainstream america....I think they rather have a super smooth, pretty, patch free environment. Like the colors they chose for the stock UI, I'm willing to bet that if Palm chose something more slick, ie that carbon red theme, original blue theme, or even that "Classy Palm" theme. It'd sell more phones. People don't like to think, show them something that's "cute" or "shiney" and its in their hands! Lemme know what you think!

I liked the Logo. LOL

Well, I can take credit for the original design, but the art elves at Precentral completely re-did my original attempt in a majorly cool way. Thanks, elves! {Jonathan}

No prob.

- the elves

I was part of that general public until a friend told me about precentral and preware! Then I started to get involved more into the patches and homebrew apps.
I am an avid fan of the Pre and am glad that there are outlets such as Precentral, where I can catch up on all the latest news about Palm and the Pre.
I also believe it gives Palm the oppurtunity to listen to their consumers and continue to make upgrades to their systems and devices.
I don't see apple doing that!

I completely agree with Rubinstein, even if I consider myself atechie guy (I work as a .Net developer).

A lot of my mates that are now only talking about android vs iphone and want and android over anything els they do because they want to have the feeling of having acomputer on his pocket with a lot of icons and dpi with no worries about usability. When I show them my pre they are extremely impressed about how in here everything is just flip and tap and you are done, but then ask about resolution and megapixels...and how a new android phone will have this or this... And they forget they will actually have to use the phone.

I have said it before but I am one of those that right now wont be able to say no to the experience the webOS is giving me in contrast to an existing android front end or the iphone.

Exactly. While iPhone's UI is smoother, webOS is infinitely faster.

Android isn't even in the UI running!

How much do you want to bet that the editor who changed the headline owns an iPhone?

I'll take that bet.

I love my Pre and WebOS but I'm seriously affraid Palm won't be around for another 2 years. Not that I'm upset about my 2 year investment. How cool would it be to have a phone from a company that went out of buisness. Anyways, we'll just have to see what Palm throws out there next. CES 2010 will be a deal breaker for Palm I think. Long Live Palm. Owned:Palm Pilot, Palm Zire 71, Palm Treo 680, and now Palm Pre.

Some thoughts from a 7 year Palm user, but seriously keeping an open mind for his next phone:

1. I went to a Verizon store last Saturday, right after the Droid was announced because I read so much about how good it was on CNet and ZDnet. I went into the store, and walked right over to its sales area- empty. Everyone was looking at all the other phones. I was quite surprised. I picked up the phone, and spent about 15 minutes playing with it, and my thoughts were as follows: a. The dispay is NOT as nice as the hype; there were two of these units, and both had displays that paled in comparison to the Droid Eris and other adjacent phones. b. It was NOT very fast.. Android 2.0 and all, again, honestly, it was a bit slow in responsiveness.. scrolling web pages was, well, lagging, while the Droid Eris zipped right along. c. The keyboard was, well, really poorly designed, IMO. Wide keys, close together (not necessarily bad), but very difficult to press with shallow pressing action.. maybe one of the worst keyboards I ever saw. The Dpad navigation button was nice though - my daughter, Sidekick user, liked that, but agreed about the keyboard.. pitiful. Overall opinion - not a very attractive phone, and once again, proof that "critics" reviews certainly don't always represent the truth.

2. The Droid Eris was a GREAT phone, though, to the contrary of the Droid. Fast response, extremely vibrant colrs n the screen and, good browsing actions (pinch and stretch work well). A little smaller than the Droid, and no keyboard, but, my opinion is, even with Adroid 1.5 on it, it bested the Droid hands down in all areas.

3. I went to the Sprint store to finally see the Palm Pre. After reading so much about it over the past months, good and bad, it was time. My first impression was that the display was, without a doubt, the sharpest and slickest display on a smartphone I had ever seen, including the iPhone. Seriously, even though it is only 3.2", it is truly the clearest display, with the most vibrant colors out there, with the Droid Eris coming in second. Regarding its form factor.. very nice.. good fit in the hand. Looks good, with the keyboard slider still in. The keyboard was ok.. not great, but, useable.. Palm should have done a better job, as they know well that the keyboard has to be great for this type of phone, and, withsuch small keys, they needed to make the keys softer and more responosive to the user's touch. One thing I did NOT like about the Pre was the edges of the slide-out keyboard, they are sharp... I almost got a papercut twice hanlding it with the keyboard slid out... NOT cool. The OS was, well, just incredibly slick.. smooth as butter - WebOs is like having your own desktop PC on your smartphone - very intuitive. Accessing the web was fast, and pinch/stretch was very responsive, just like on the iPhone. I did NOT like the calendar app - much too bsic compared to the Palm Treo calendar, and, while using it, I did notice a lag in pressing the calculator buttons and the appearance of the number - I dont know if it was the PRe or the calculator app. The Pre needs: better keyboard, expandable memory (SD card), and a smoother edged slideout for the keyboard. Despite all that, honestly, and objectively, the Pre was the fastest and slickest phone I saw that day, hands down.

Now, having said the above, it is VERY important for those who are looking at the upcoming Flash player articles crefully, and put that together with the graphics chip that sits on the Pre unused - I believe this was intentional, as Flah's vector graphics are VERY CPU intensive, and it is quite likely that Palm was waiting for the player to arrive, even in beta, in order to activate the graphics CPU with optimized instructions for Flash, which will also allow other graphic insruction sets to properly be designed for the chip so as not to interfere with the Flash optimization. Ther are clues in the articles that imply this, if you read them, carefully.

Is Palm dead? No. But, IMO, they made a HUGE mistake by not just releasing a GSM umnlocked version, and opted for SPrint exclusivity. There are 3 billion cell phones in the world, and 2.5 bill of them are GSM. With all the good press, Palm could have sold these for $250 each, made a little less per phone, but made it up in volume with worldwide sales, as there is no question it was THE most anticipated phone this year, after the awards and reviews it received earleir this year.

Missing this opportunity was huge, as they certainly allowed Android to catch up. IF Verizon pushes the Pre big time when they get it in January, it could be a game changer for Palm, giving them the much needed credibility and revenue to go after those 2.5 bill GSM phone users around the world - yes, the Pre would be a great transition phone for them from a feature phone, given its GUI and formfactor, I feel.

It will be an interesting story to watch, for sure.

If Palm manages to move 10 million WebOS devices in 2010 (as Kuittinen suggests), that will put them very solidly back in the game.

And, if they'll bring out a high-end WebOS device, they can count on 10,000,001 sales :-)