What Palm Needs to Do
Kay added that introducing a new phone is a delicate undertaking relying on a number of factors, including the need for a great platform-which no one has denied that Palm has in WebOS-as well as a strong user experience. There's also the matter of whether the channel is really ready to support Palm. "It's another distinct platform, and distribution has to agree to support that. That means tech support, inventory, etc.-every aspect is another increment in expense for the distribution channel, as well as a risk," Kay said. "And right now, that's still an open question with these guys."Strategy Analytics' Mawston said product is king for Palm, and a "breakthrough model sold [through] a premier operator, such as Motorola did with the Droid at Verizon Wireless," could still spell a comeback for Palm. Mawston added that he believes Palm could also benefit from eliminating the need to gather support for WebOS. "Palm cannot afford to sit on its hands and it must move urgently to upgrade its product portfolio," he said. "Tough times call for radical thinking and perhaps Palm should examine the possibility of working with Android in 2011, because this would give Palm access to an off-the-shelf suite of software and services with good momentum and high brand awareness." Palm announced in its fiscal statement that it shipped a total of 960,000 smartphones during the quarter, hinting that, should Palm's big new marketing push-which includes an ad campaign covering billboards, bus shelters, buses and subways-not pan out, its fourth quarter may be affected by inventory. "The work we're doing to improve sales is having an impact, we're making great progress on future products and we're looking forward to upcoming launches with new carrier partners," Rubinstein said in the statement. "Most importantly, we have built a unique and highly differentiated platform in WebOS, which will provide us with a considerable-and growing-advantage as we move forward."
Palm did expand beyond Sprint: On Feb. 1 Verizon Wireless began offering updated versions of the Palm devices, renamed the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus. While access to Verizon's customer base and marketing resources offers hope of increasing the devices' sales figures, some doubt whether Verizon-which also sells the popular Motorola Droid-can help Palm as much as is necessary.