Here at CES 2009 Palm debuted the Pre, their new iPhone rival device with a snazzy slider keyboard and large touchscreen. The reviews were overwhelmingly positive and this sent Palm’s stock soaring yesterday 34% as the company’s sagging prospects were revived as fast as the tech blogs started raving. I’m anxious to look at the price movement intra day – eg how soon after the launch did the stock rise? Efficient market theory suggests that new information is incorporated almost immediately into stock pricing and this is an interesting test of that hypothesis.
More CES Coverage at Technology Report
I’m on the online chat support with Palm right now trying to figure out how to get my Treo 650 to work in China and collect more information for my Cell phones in China post. As with other online help systems I’ve tried – almost always with regrets – I’m finding the online chat experience very frustrating and inefficient and time consuming. Inefficient enough that I’m able to do this blog post while chatting, and learning that the technician appears to have far less information than I’ve already collected about how to get my Treo to work in China. You’d think this would be a simple question and they’d have a nice FAQ but no, he’s sticking with me which I sort of appreciate, but so far all I have learned is the the Treo wil work in China but he’s not sure about the Sprint Network. Unless I’ve missed something he’s missing the whole point here – you need unlocking and a SIM card which you normally purchase in China.
The failure of these chat support systems is really interesting because it seems like it should be a good way for a single support person to handle dozens of questions. For some they’d know the answer immediately and send people on their merry way, while more complicated questions could be answered by using their databases, FAQs, and internet. Yet generally I find that a phone call is more effective in drilling down to the issue and even faster unless you are on a very long hold.
OK, after over 30 minutes I have absolutely NO information I did not have before. A total waste of time again:
Palm’s new phone – the “Centro” – offers a price breakthrough for “higher end” smart phones. With a mid-october launch date. My prediction is that this is too little too late from Palm, already struggling to regain a market. The Treo was a significant improvement over earlier phones and PDAs, but Apple’s iPhone effectively blew the Treo design out of the water. Others will copy the iPhone and other good smart phone features but it seems Palm has just issued a “cheap” version of the Treo. This was too little too late to compete with the iPhone and coming Google phone
Palm Centro intro from Palm website
This *may* work depending on the expectation of users. If people who have held off on iPhones decide they can now afford a device that has the enhanced functionality of the Centro AND if the Google phone is delayed past Christmas (unlikely in my view), the Centro may be the boost Palm seems to desparately need. However, unlike the iPhone the Centro is unlikely to create a huge buzz. Unlike the iPhone which was a masterpiece of clever innovation and hype, the Centro can only brag about a price breakthrough – it is nothing like a technology breakthrough. A large screen at this price might have made this the “must have” gadget for high schoolers and soccer moms, but I don’t see this taking off.
The Google phone is likely to come out before Christmas and if it’s in this price range and more like the iPhone it’ll be the device of the year and yet another feather in Google’s oversized cap (and oversized market cap!)
IMHO LARGE screen sizes will be the key to success as phones evolve.
More on Google Phone from Business Week