Many of Palm Inc.s problems have come from promising hardware before it is ready. But some of Palms software partners say that the company also has a problem of not doing a good job selling available products.
Palm partner DataViz Inc. recently alerted Palm to a Microsoft Corp. print advertisement, which says, "For example, only Pocket PC has a genuine pocket version of Microsoft Word, so you can access and view your important documents in their original format. Then you can edit them with powerful tools like spell check, word count and text formatting."
Palm devices dont come with Word, but Datavizs Documents to Go software, which runs on the Palm OS, enables users to view and edit both Word and Excel documents. The software comes bundled on a CD with Palms m500 and m505 handhelds.
Palm recently split its operating system and hardware divisions into separate units and launched new developer programs, but the company has done little to market the third-party software available for its platform.
"Were not about fighting Microsoft," said Rob Hoxie, director of business development and marketing partnerships at Dataviz in Trumbull, Conn. "All were saying to Palm is, heres what the facts are, make sure you talk to folks about how compatible the Palm can be with a PC. Palm employees [need] to make sure people understand what theyve got."
Palm officials have acknowledged that the company needs to do more in terms of marketing itself as a company that provides both software and software support; splitting off the operating system division into a separate company was the first step.
Palm wants to be seen as an enterprise-level software support company, according to David Nagel, president and CEO of the Palm software subsidiary. This is a two-fold job: taking on some of the support responsibilities currently held by Palms hardware licensees and some of the marketing functions of the third-party software developers.
"If we havent done a good job of telling them that, then shame on us, to be honest," he said. "Most of the licensees do tier-one support for customers and I expect that to continue. But we clearly have to be doing a much better job if our licensees are going to be selling to the enterprise. We clearly have to have a support channel for the enterprise guys and thats something were putting together."
Palm last week announced that it is laying off 250 employees, the latest in a series of cutbacks for the handheld computer and operating system company. The cutbacks follow the ousting of CEO Carl Yankowski in early November, and the announcement that Palm is ceasing operations of its MyPalm portal services.