Probably the most exciting tech announcement of 04/28/2010 was HP’s plan to buy Palm for just over $1 billion. Palm has the experience, HP has the global market. Hopefully, HP will take note of what works for Palm. Call this my “HP Plea…” even though I’m just a user…
It will be a while before we know the solid plans, as the takeover is scheduled for June 2010. Of course, that doesn’t mean I can’t tell HP what I hope to see in the future. Here goes:
1. Don’t Drop the Palm Name.
Despite the few who think the Palm brand is synonymous with failure, it’s one of the most well-known brands in PDA and smartphones. The Palm name has a rich history. Many cringed at the change to PalmOne and applauded when it went back to just Palm.
2. Training. Training. Training.
One of the biggest problems I’ve seen with the release of the Pre and Pre Plus is carrier support when it comes to usage and troubleshooting. Hordes of posts at PreCentral.net center on Sprint users taking their Pre devices in due to a problem, and, in turn, Sprint just damaging them out. While Verizon techs seem to be more knowledgeable, there are common issues most technicians can’t immediately resolve. This also results in quick-damage-outs. Reliance on users to call Palm support has caused many to exchange devices that could otherwise become functional with a few keystrokes.
Palm has been great about providing standard training to its users. I’d like to see truly in-depth training practices for the first-responders (carrier reps and techs), since many consumers are reluctant to call tech-support centers due to previous experience with outsourced support.
Also, in the line of training, too many reps aren’t familiar enough with the operation of the Pre and Pixi models. The key selling point right now is the free mobile hotspot service via Verizon Wireless. However, many more could be sold if the phones could be properly demonstrated, as are Blackberries and Android phones.
3. Keep the App Catalog and Don’t Fall Into Price-Hike Traps.
A very attractive “sell” of the Pre is the easy-to-use App Catalog, whereas Palm charges consumers directly and prices are well within reason. As always, free apps get the most downloads, but it’s equally appealing that the average non-free app costs well under $5. There’s great competiton here, as the majority of apps don’t break the bank. And the opening of the App Catalog for WebOS, which is contrary to Palm’s previous web site offering for the Treo (which left us having to search across many reseller sites and make separate purchases), has made life so much easier for all of us.
4. Embrace the Embracers.
That is, embrace people like me. Those of us devoted to Palm products and WebOS may be a much smaller group than that of, say, the iPhone fans, but we are truly devoted none the less. Do things right and we’ll also sell for you.
When you’re done with all the hugs, which will make us feel all warm and fuzzy, listen to us. I promise if you follow us around on the web, you’ll find that committed (and wannabe) Palm users will tell you exactly what we need. Keep in mind that not all of us are pure-bred techies, so we definitely do represent a vast amount of people who are either unaware of Palm offerings, or haven’t seen just what the Pre and Pixi can do. Who knows? We just might fill you in on a top, key selling point.
Need a focus group? There are plenty of us around, and plenty of non-users we know who can also help you out. Take it a step further by getting involved in our conversations, so we really know you’re listening.
5. Give Big Companies Good Reasons.
I believe the reason why so many big companies haven’t spent the money to develop apps for WebOS is fear of a dying market for Palm. Let’s give these companies good reason to invest in providing users with the same style apps provided for Android and iPhone devices. Some of us have worked around the lack of corporate-provided apps, thanks to indy developers. In many cases, we pay for the usage (eg. I paid for an app to handle my Netflix queue on WebOS). There are several, however, we think should be provided by the companies themselves.
6. Mold New Products to WebOS.
There’s no argument that WebOS is a stellar platform. It is my hope that you mold future products to WebOS, rather than vice-versa.
7. Show the Real Deal.
Another key selling point is advertising (print, web, television) that show people exactly what the Pre and Pixi devices can do. Palm, unfortunately, missed the boat on this one. Their commercials didn’t draw nearly the amount of attention as the iPhone and Droid. It’s time to show everyone, closeup, how easy it is to swipe, connect, schedule, and wake up to multiple alarms.
8. Invest in Necessary Updates and Features.
There are some standard and expected functions the Pre and Pixi just won’t do. Voice Dial is one of them, as is picture rotation/save and PC/Mac syncing sans the need for a third-party app. Yeah, I know that remote, over-the-air backup is all the rage, but many business users don’t want their ever-important contact list and data streamed through space. We’d also like to dial our contacts without looking at our phones or waiting until we reach a stop light.
9. Don’t Abuse Leverage.
I hope your plans don’t include the attempt to force carriers to do it only your way. I am a VZW subscriber, and waited patiently for Verizon to test the Pre Plus on all fronts before finally releasing the enhanced device. Don’t get me wrong, there’s good money to be had with carriers like Sprint, who release devices more quickly. But Verizon’s lag is for good reason. I know when a device becomes available on my network of choice, it’s stable.
10. Don’t Try to Become Apple.
Don’t get me wrong, because I own Apple products and use them regularly. There are, however, some anti-selling points of the iPhone and iPad products.
The restriction of Apple’s devices to a single carrier has cost them sales. So keep this in mind – while there are plenty of folk who will switch carriers in order to use a particular device, there are just as many who won’t switch carriers for anything. Note that it is Blackberry that has enjoyed the biggest slice of pie for years, and that company’s devices are available on a plethora of carriers.
The seemingly “over-control” of app development and distribution has also raised quite a few eyebrows. Users LOVE the ability to obtain just about anything they need, at a very affordable cost. Don’t change the game – if WebOS apps become “premium” add-ons, you have more to lose than gain.
I know that with the right drive, training and willingness to listen to current and potential users, HP can carry Palm where it’s truly meant to be – near the top of the list of devices and platforms to use.
My name is Pamela Hazelton, and even with a company merger, I’m still a PALM.