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.

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