A million to developers, half off all apps, what’s Palm up to? Edicts from HP, that’s what. Read more.
Palm has been doing everything that consumers don’t seem to want these days. Consumers have been begging for new Palm models. Similar to Palm’s old Garnet OS days, they haven’t been delivering. Hardware has become stale in an era of Snapdragons, HSPA+, and WiMAXx. All three arenas could have breathed new life into Palm’s stale hardware lineup, and put them at the center of the attention stream.
Sadly, none have come to pass the Palm lineup… yet anyways.
What gives? Palm was out of cash right before HP acquired the company, but that wouldn’t stop them from dropping in faster processors, microSD slots, and other commonplace technology into their existing designs. Instead, the company seems so centered on apps.
No, HP isn’t getting out of the smartphone business, despite what CEO Mark Hurd has screwed up saying. But, HP is getting Palm out of the superphone business.
Palm will no longer be a leader in superphones. They won’t be the first to new technologies, and they won’t be shipping 1 GHz CPUs until they’re cheap.
Why? As HP’s CEO did say correctly, HP acquired Palm for webOS. And, webOS is trailing the Android/iPhone/BlackBerry pack in terms of apps. So, to inflate Palm’s numbers, they’re giving the people that already are locked into carrier contracts… a break on apps. More sales, more developer interest, or so the logic goes.
So, how does this fit into the future of Palm? What is Palm’s future exactly?
Palm smartphones will continue to be sold. But, HP is going to aim Palm at the low-end and mid-range smartphone segments. These businesses have been tough to crack, Apple has arguably entered them by selling modified older versions of hardware ($99, 8GB iPhone 3GS for example). That’s not low enough for Palm. Expect future generations of Palm hardware to match the free-for-Pixi, $49-for-Pre model.
As for the high-end technologies, tablets will be Palm’s next move, HP’s admitted that clearly. But, HP has been a bit deceptive in terms of smartbooks, netbooks, and laptops. We expect HP to use the same “QuickPlay” technologies to embed webOS in these systems, as an alternative, quick-toggle operating system.
While webOS has been criticized as being power hungry, that has been dramatically improved in recent versions. And, faced with a battery ten times the size of a cell phone battery, webOS can blaze past Windows 7 in terms of power efficiency. This will allow users to toggle between webOS and Windows 7 depending on task.
If you need to pull up a webpage on the go, send an email, or IM, you can do all three simultaneously in webOS. But, if you need to deliver a PowerPoint, switching to Windows could be a button away.
The key here is that HP will be able to dominate Apple in laptop battery life, with easily 15 to 20 hour timeframes. Thus, forcing Apple to do the same, and backport iOS to Mac hardware for similar performance yields.
The real question will be how well webOS can maintain app performance across such a broad range of devices. One of the pitfalls of the PDK is that it will require each device to be tuned for everything from device capacity to screen size. Palm will need to implement more stable device-transitive APIs, similar to Apple with universal binaries, to help aid this transition.