RealTime IT News

Palm: A Little Too Late Or Immaculate Timing?

Being at the top of the handheld market for more than four years has placed Palm in an enviable position. However, the recent launch of the new Wi-Fi enabled Tungsten C comes after a long pause between winning concepts, and their time-to-market for this round of products may have placed them at some peril. Their previous products held the interest of early adopters and innovators, but the time between considerable upgrades in models may have helped shift some of their traditional customers to other vendors.

Whether Palm-lovers have continued to delay their buying-cycle in order to wait for this latest round of products is what continues to be the question on everyone's lips.

Perhaps Adam Smith's invisible palm has stopped buyers reaching for their purse?

Our thoughts are based on the people that I have seen using Palms in the past, and considered themselves to be at the cutting edge, buying up at the beginning of the dotcom life-cycle. If your IT department and CFO could justify leasing a fleet of Palms then, it may well have been too long a time for an upgrade without the features of a truly powerful wireless Palm offering.

What is certain in this assumption is that a switch away from Palm by IT managers will not have been made on the basis of price. However it may have been made in line with a network upgrade to wireless protocols along with the need for greater storage.

Pitching at a time to match the 2003/4 procurement cycle fits well with notebook procurement, which would also include wireless Centrino connectivity. Furthermore, it corresponds well with many mainstream corporates now establishing productivity driven mobile work policies.

Perhaps Palm has correctly positioned itself against competitors in both time-to-market and product attribute development? Just in time to surf the next IT boom. Certainly, if competitors have launched too early with expensive, unsuitable or restrictive products, Palm will be in the position for a coup de grace in the PDA market. Even more the cse in the next two years when returning markets yield to the pressures of IT upgrades.

With this background in mind, the latest launch was evidently no different in style and substance, and was a clear indication that Palm's product development strategy continues to be sound.

This became clear by the extensive consumer research that Palm's product development team undertook to understand the new requirements that corporate and consumer markets required for continued PDA uptake. By offering the qualities that these two separate markets demanded, their ability to retain existing Palm users significantly increases, and when compared to other PDA products launched this year, puts them in a strong position.

So what have they added that makes this new range so appealing?

Apart from the increased RAM, built-in Wi-Fi and the fast Intel processor, form factor has always been a key qualifier for Palm's products, and the familiar shape of the Tungsten PDA's have continued. Moving from basic design and feel, Palm has managed to retain size and weight despite having added significant capabilities to the platform, and doing so without detriment to any signifacnt features.

Most important, battery life is the best in its class which makes extended periods of Wi-Fi usage a reality. Their pricing strategy is also a winner, with products sitting in the right categories with the right attributes.

In conculsion, when comparing competitor offerings, Palm seems to have found a solid position in the market, by providing what their existing users have been demanding for a while. The next challenge for the company is much more formidable, winning the hearts and wallets of existing PocketPC users.

Reprinted from Australia.Internet.com.