The Palm Pre’s missed marketing opportunity

Posted on June 18, 2009 11:27 pm by | Marketing | Mobile

It has now been more than a week since I got my Palm Pre and I’m even happier with it now than I was when I wrote my review last week. I’ve grown comfortable with the interface and the gestures that make it work. I’ve personalized the calendar, contact list, and email. I’ve been using the universal search (which rocks) and the Synergy features, which really do set the Pre apart from the iPhone. And I’ve been using some of the few apps that are available.

As I noted in my review, the phone has only been available for a couple weeks and the SDK (software developer kit) is still being put through its paces prior to release into the wild for anybody to develop Pre applications. I understand this, and that Apple has had two years to get to the 40,000 some-odd apps that now populate the iPhone’s app store.

Still, I’m jonesing for apps. Jonesing bad. As my podcast co-host Neville Hobson has said repeatedly, it’s all about the apps.

So, at least twice a day, I’ve been visiting the app catalog and tapping the “Recent” category to see if anything has been added. And I routinely heave a sigh when I see that, no, nothing new is available.

And therein lies a missed marketing opportunity.

Shel HoltzKnowing the SDK wouldn’t be ready and only a handful of apps (like Pandora) would populate the app catalog, the companies should have made arrangements with some of the hotter apps developers to churn out one new app every day. People like me, repeatedly checking the catalog, would find and download the new offering, then talk, blog, and tweet about it. The news stream would then be full of Pre commentary, and not just more rehashing of the phone’s highlights and shortcomings.

It’s worth pointing out that an early analysis of Pre sales indicates that most of the new phones have been upgrades by existing Sprint customers; the Pre has not lured new customers away from AT&T, Verizon, T*Mobile or any of the other carriers. Continuous enthusiastic chatter about a steady stream of new apps that do amazing things would help getting the competition’s customers to pay more attention and gradually begin to covet a Pre.

Sprint could have touted its “App a Day” campaign, proudly satisfying its customers’ appetite even as the finishing touches are put on the SDK.

Instead, Pre owners are left to wonder when a new app might appear. Like I say, a missed marketing opportunity.



  • 1.I applied for the early developer program. I have around 15 years of extensive development experience in several different areas. Didn't get in. I'm not sure what the secret sauce is that they were looking for to let people develop, but I know there were a lot of us who wanted in, and didn't make the cut for whatever reason.

    I also write a Gadget column. You'd think, right?

    Anyway, it's kind of a bummer because I want to buy the Pre, but I'm a little bit put-off by not making the cut, so I dunno. Will I always look at it and think I wasn't good enough for Palm?

    If they REALLY want to take the iPhone by Storm, this isn't the way to do this. An 'ugly win' - just get it out there! would have been a better strategy as far as I'm concerned.

    Thanx for your blog on this.

    CJ | June 2009 | Austin, TX

  • 2.It will be interesting to see what the Palm SDK brings to the table. The mobile OSs are certainly the contenders now -- not the hardware. It's a question of WM6, Palm, iPhone and Android. This will be fun to follow, particularly once Google releases Wave. If they play their cards right then Android should be the first to market with native Wave integration -- and that could be huge.

    Dagan Henderson | June 2009 | Walnut Grove, CA

  • 3.Dagan, I'd be interested in hearing where you're learning about the wave and the various mobile OSs

    CJ | June 2009 | Austin, TX

  • 4.Sorry, but there is no way that this an Iphone killer. However, once Google releases Wave and its integrated with the Palm SDK, field could finally become level., But then again, what do I know? :(

    ray allen | June 2009 | yonkers

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