How Palm blew it with the Pre

This is my opinion, but it is an informed opinion. I will also keep it short. Palm pulled a miracle with WebOS and the Pre, but where they blew it was releasing a CDMA version first. In effect, they fixed their attention on one tiny chunk of the mobile market – the very small US market. The Palm Pre was doomed to fail from the word go.

Palm Pre

Palm is the only manufacturer of WebOS phones. Palm has only two such phones in the market. Those two phones are primarily CDMA devices. Those two phones are available on a single US operator. Those two phones have a limited release on overseas carriers. Sounds like a not-so-winning formula, especially with the limitations that taking the CDMA route imposes.

A GSM version released first and followed later by a CDMA version, in my opinion, would have done much better. Think of the huge and vibrant Nigerian market. Think of South Africa, Europe and Asia – all drooling for WebOS and the Pre.

Availability to a wider market will also create a demand for more applications. Why would any developers want to invest so much in creating apps for a device or platform that has such limited availability and circulation? It is no wonder that the WebOS application catalogue is still very lean.

While Apple took a similar route with the iPhone, pushing a GSM device gave it an edge. before we knew it, iPhones were all over the place (officially or unofficially). And believe me when I say that the unofficial market is a strong one. Of course, because of network locks, the iPhone is still a bit limited. Now consider that the Pre has been largely CDMA (bad enough) and locked to a network too (double bad), and you get the picture, surely.

Palm relegated the major mobile markets to second class status. Absurd. In my opinion, Palm does not seem set to hit it big – unless they execute another u-turn. Want a wider mobile reach? Push GSM. Africa, Europe, and Asia are where mobile phones are selling like hot cake – and on these continents, GSM rules.

Related Item: Can Palm and WebOS make it through 2010?

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3 comments

  1. Spot on man. I agree with you that restricting phones like the Pre is not so good marketing.

    I think that these manufacturers’ world seem to revolve around the US where CDMA networks are the norm. Are they still apprehensive of Asia and Africa? Can’t they notice the hundreds of millions of phones Nokia, Samsung and co are selling in emerging markets?

    I suspect that their research shows that emerging markets cannot afford highly priced phones in such numbers as to make the distribution worth while.

    I read about the iPhone and the Pre often and really wish I can get my hands on them. Unfortunately even with money in my pocket I will not be able to.

  2. The utter folly of Palm’s policy is only made clearer when you consider the burgeoning smartphone-hungry Asian markets.

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