Palm, the inventor of the PDA, is nearly dead. Take a look at the proof.
I noticed an article over at Ars Technica the other day that reported on the declining pure PDA market. According to Ars "In the year between the second quarter of 2006 and the second quarter of 2007, for instance, PDAs saw an astonishing 43.5 percent decrease in worldwide shipments, and no more than a million devices were sold in the quarter."
Luckily, Palm (the number one pure-PDA player) saw the future years ago and released the first of its Treo smart phones, of which I owned two, the 600 and 650. In its time, the Treo 650 was a great phone. It had all the features you could want (at the time).
The main problem with it as I remember was it was horribly unstable and rather bulky with an awkward antenna. I gave up my Treo to use a Blackberry about two years ago. The Blackberry in comparison wasn't as pretty, but the OS was rock-solid and the email functionality best-of-breed. Of course, in recent models of Blackberry, RIM has done a lot of work to make the interface easier to use and prettier, so they're now hands-down winners over Treos.
On my latest visit to the States I wandered in to a couple of different Palm store. The store was filled with Palm branded accessories and they even had some Treos on display. The first thing that struck me was how empty and ghost-town-like both were. In one store there was one couple in store inquiring about servicing their older Treo 650.
|Both Palm stores were empty
|Not a lot of turnover per square metre happening here
I picked up one of the demo phones and quickly put it down again after I realised it was running Windows (after all, using Windows on a Palm is much the same as using it on any other Windows based smartphone).
I then went over to the Palm version of the Treo (can you believe I had to even say that?) and had a play. I couldn't believe how familiar the experience was to me. It was literally like using myTreo 650 from years ago. And that's when it struck me. Palm is dead. It hasn't even bothered to give its flagship model a major interface upgrade in years.
Opposite the Palm stores on the other side of the mall were the Apple stores, both of them literally teeming with people trying to get their hands on the iPhone. There were staff everywhere giving demos, showing people how to use the product. All of the phones on display had active SIM cards, and customers were actively encouraged to call people and test out the phones.
|Apple store is buzzing with people. It's by far the busiest store in the whole mall.
But this isn't a comparison between the Treo and the iPhone -- a mobile phone store full of people isn't an unusual sight; it's certainly not unique to the iPhone.
This is an observation about a company that had a great product on the market and didn't do anything with it. In the face of stiff competition, Palm took the easy route: license Windows and leave the Palm OS to die a slow, painful death.
It's sad to see a company that once spearheaded the PDA revolution wither away and die. But that's exactly what will happen unless Palm do something to stay in the game. Oh, and by the way, the answer is not the Foleo.