What is the Pre's Target Market? | webOS Nation

What is the Pre's Target Market?

by Derek Meyer Tue, 10 Feb 2009 10:09 am EST

Michael Mace is a former Palm employee, in more recent years he's established a well-deserved reputation as one of the smartest voices in the mobile space.  So we'd be remiss if we didn't point to his comments on the Pre fromhis blog, Mobile Opportunity.

He starts with a point that has come up before--the difference between the Pre and Palm's previous devices--and makes it more bluntly than most, almost alluding to the Greek myth of the phoenix:

Palm died. Palm OS died. Get over it.

Now let's talk about this new company, and product, that happens to be named Palm. I don't know if they'll survive or not, but they have a chance, and they're definitely interesting.

While he likes the hardware and software of the Pre, his top concern about the device and what it means for Palm is that the Pre's target market is unclear:

Mobile devices that sell well usually have a well-defined market of people who look at them and say, "that one's perfect for me."... [The Pre is] apparently perfect for people who want a compromise between a Blackberry and an iPhone, but don't need the best of either. Who are those people? And are there enough of them to make a business for Palm? I honestly don't know.

Mace does seem to describe the market that Palm claims to be aiming for pretty accurately.  Palm and Elevation Partners have said that they're planning to be successful with both Apple and RIM still in the game. The question, then, is whether Palm is right that there are plenty of people who do fit in that segment and -- more importantly -- whether or not RIM and Apple will be able to expand their markets into that "fat middle" before the Pre can establish a place there.

Well, one more question: can the Pre actually eat into the customer base for either BlackBerry or the iPhone, or are those market segments solidified?  Any switchers out there care to comment -- why does the Pre appeal to you as a BlackBerry or iPhone owner?