Palm Needs to Get Back to Its Roots

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-04-12 Print this article Print

5. Double-down on an app store

One of Palm's biggest issues right now is its lack of an app store. The company that acquires Palm will need to get to work on building an online app store immediately (especially if it opts against Android). Applications are becoming a must-have in today's mobile marketplace and it's the single place where Palm falls entirely flat. If the new owner decides they want to stick with WebOS (a big mistake), it needs to find a way to attract developers to the platform. If it doesn't, there will be little it can do to resurrect the hobbled company.

6. Stay true to the company's history

Palm's loyal following has helped it survive this long. Palm has enjoyed a long history of delivering products that, at times, pushed the mobile space forward. The Palm Pilot was a groundbreaking device. Palm OS was widely considered a fine mobile operating system for its time. All the while, the company has attempted to stay true to its core values that made it a success in the first place. Unfortunately for Palm, those core values aren't as relevant today as they once were and customers are going elsewhere for mobile products. But Palm's take on mobile products is valuable. It just needs to be managed more efficiently.

7. Look beyond mobile phones

For years, Palm has believed that mobile phones are its bread and butter. But as its profits have slid and its devices have stayed on store shelves, the company hasn't adapted to the changing marketplace. The company's new owner will need to look beyond mobile phones to produce a positive return on the investment. A good place to start is the tablet market. Yes, it's another space where Apple will likely dominate, but it's also the future in mobile computing. If Palm isn't prepared for that and it doesn't try its best to carve out a portion of that market, there will be little it can do going forward.

8. Focus on the enterprise

RIM has been extremely successful focusing almost all of its efforts on the enterprise market. All the while, Apple and Google have done little to break out of the consumer space and specifically target the corporate world. Palm's new owner might find an opportunity there. Corporate users made the Palm Pilot a business standard in the late 1990s. Many of those users stayed loyal to Palm products until the advent of the iPhone and the RIM BlackBerry. To revive Palm, the new owner must find a way to develop new applications and features that enterprise users will covet. Admittedly, Palm now faces much more competition in that space now from RIM and many others. But that will keep Palm close to its roots and perhaps allow it win back some of the users it has lost in recent years.

9. Stop trying to be Apple

When Palm announced the Pre, most pundits said that the company was trying to take on Apple in a market where mimicking the leader usually ensures failure. Unfortunately for Palm, it didn't heed those warnings. When it's acquired by a new owner, the last thing it should do is continue Palm's "Follow-Apple" strategy. It's understandable that Palm wants to achieve the kind of success Apple has, but attempting to do what Steve Jobs does is not a smart move. The future Palm owner needs to find a way to differentiate the company in the market. Mimicking Apple just won't cut it.

10. Remember the patents

A significant portion of Palm's market value is its patents. The company holds several highly sought-after patents on mobile technology that have helped it in the past. When a company finally acquires Palm, it needs to ensure that those patents are part of its strategy. Whether it wants to hold on to the patents for future investment or start selling them off, having control over Palm's many patents is a good position to be in.

It's trying to turn the company around that puts its new owners in an unenviable position.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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