(Last edited July 26, 2008)
Everyone who ends up getting a Palm or a PDA has asked him/her that same question of “Why get a Palm?”. Even those who ended up not getting one, thought of this question before dismissing the purchase as being too frivolous, expensive, useless and that it costs way too much on an electronic gadget. But they fail to realize that the Palm is much more than a digital address book or an electronic gadget.
A PALM IS NOT JUST A DIGITAL ADDRESS BOOK. IT’S MUCH MORE
Most people can’t justify spending $100 on a low end Palm device. But, they can justify spending MUCH MORE on an X-box, Playstation, plasma TV, iPod, TiVo, etc. Huh? Where is the money going? The Palm can be just as entertaining, fun as a video game console, mp3 player, video player AND it can organize many aspects of your life, send emails, etc. So, it’s very much a MULTI-FUNCTIONAL device that should cost a lot more for what it does, but yet at $300 or less for a mid-level Palm, people still perceive it as expensive. But why is it still considered too expensive for all its features? The problem is how most people view the Palm or Palm Pilot as many still refer to them as simply a digital address book device. Remember the old digital address book devices from Casio, Sharp, etc? They were only capable of storing address book and similar PIM databases, were monochrome LCD screens, had very limited storage. I remember how they were over $100 for the higher end Casio ones that had the capability to transfer to the computer. Palm came around the time when the Casios and similar data storage devices were popular. The main difference with the Palm Pilot was that it allowed “handwriting recognition” technology (ie. Graffiti), while most of the others were still inputting via the keypad and were a lot bigger in size. The Pilot was small, offered a lot more storage and seemed to appeal to a lot of those people who were using the Casios and Sharp organizers.
The main problem in my opinion with Palm is how the Palm was originally marketed in its early years and how effective the commercials, ads were and they’re still stuck in consumers’ minds.Many people still call the Palm, a Palm Pilot and many of them still think that they are very similar to what it was over a decade ago. Unfortunately, until they are shown otherwise, they will continue to do so.
What do these devices all have in common? They can only do one specific task
A Palm device nowadays is a hybrid device that offers many functions that most people are not aware of. It is an mp3 music player, a DVD movie player, a digital ebook viewer, an audio book player, an address book, a daytimer organizer, a calculator, a TV/DVD/CD remote control, an internet browser, a map viewer, a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a movie database, tv listings, camera, voice memo recorder, video camcorder, webcam, alarm clock, a foreign translation translator, a dictionary, office programs (MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint), video game device, stopwatch/timer, offline web viewer, document reader, instant messenger, sms, and much much more. Whew. Did you know that the Palm device can do all that? Imagine carrying all the items mentioned or at least try to and then imagine the Palm device that can hold all that and more, all without any extra bulk. And consider how much you would expect to pay for something that can do all that. Or, even imagine calculating how much it would cost to buy all that and then compare it to the usual $300 price tag with a Palm. Amazing, isn’t it?
But there’s much more than just address books, calendars, and alarms on Palms. Even the low end Palms offer more than that, with programs for managing finances, database (allowing movie reviews and other database info that can be viewed), calculator, To do, Memo Pad, Note Pad, games.
Palm devices promotional flash demonstrations
(Edit July 19 2009)
Unfortunately the traditional PDAs are no longer available from the Palm Store as Palm has shifted away from the standalone PDA devices to smartphones. As such, the old but still very cool flash videos are also no longer available. You may still be able to get them from second hand stores, Ebay, or other places that sell older PDAs. Sigh, they were a lot of fun.
These Flash files are a great way to at least try to “wow” potential Palm users in discovering how cool they really are. Why doesn’t Palm do more to promote these Flash demos on the web? How many people will just go to the Palm website and just look around? I don’t know why they don’t promote more flash ads on various popular websites. If they did, I can see that they’ll generate a lot more buzz and traffic to their site. And I’m trying to do my bit, although on a much smaller level.
Here’s some of the stuff that the new Z22 offer:
- Photo viewer (great to show off your kid’s pics)
- Expense program (manage your expenses at work and home)
- Shopping list program (compare prices and buy what you need at the grocer)
- Digital electronic book viewer (read your favorite book on the Palm)
- infrared data transfer and receive capabilities including beaming address book entries
Check out more info on the Palm Z22 here
With mid-end to high end models, the features expand:
- mp3 (compressed audio music) player (great for long commutes)
- video player
- camera (capture photos)
- camera (capture videos)
- access the internet via many various ways (bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPRS, computer)
- chat via Instant messengers
- phone (place and receive phone calls)
- audio book player (listen to a book being read)
- create and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and Access documents and update it on your home and office computer
Palm devices comparison
Here’s a link with a table comparing all the current line up of Palm smartphones (Pre, Centro, Treo Pro) with their features, specifications, etc from Palm. Click here
There’s TOO many things a Palm can do. The Palm’s capability is really limited by a person’s imagination. If you need a Palm software that accomplishes a specific task, most likely, there is one already out there. It is THAT exciting. But unfortunately, most people who’s never owned a Palm, or who did own one but never got into it, would never discover its potential.
PALM CAN’T SHAKE OUT OF THE DIGITAL ADDRESSBOOK STEREOTYPE
If you ask anyone who doesn’t own a Palm Pilot what comes to mind when you ask them about a Palm, they’ll most likely describe a digital address book and calendar device that’s monochrome, maybe even color screen. But that’s it. They can’t come up with anything else. $100 does seem expensive for a digital address book. But they fail to discover that the Palm now is MUCH MORE and for $100, it’s well worth the money.
Unfortunately in this day and age when prices are dropping quickly with new technology, the Palm seems stuck at the same price. Computers, DVD and CD players have dropped in price with more power and capabilities but the Palm doesn’t seem to have changed much. What has actually happened is that the overall price hasn’t changed, but the features offered in the Palm device has but since the overall form factor of the Palm device (rectangular shaped with a square glass screen and the buttons at the bottom) hasn’t changed much, most people still think that the same device is selling at the same price.
Part of the problem is the perception. Look back at the old Palm Pilots and compare it to the previous low end Zire and you see that the overall shape is the same, it still has a monochrome screen with limited buttons, a stylus and the interface is very similar. Anyone who’s never used a Palm before would think that things are pretty much the same, except maybe the newer models offer more storage. The monochrome screen conveys the old technology idea along the lines of a calculator. Even cell phones have changed to a vibrant color screen! (Edit. Oct 2005). Okay, it looks like Palm finally come with a color screen for its lowest end Z22. It’s a start, at least. (Edit July 2009). A lot has changed in the past few years and $99 can get you a very decent smartphone like the Centro (with a cellular contract) but still, compared to what you had to pay for a standalone PDA, we’ve come a long way.
I guess that since Palm is the only one left that sell the low end digital organizers that they feel they don’t need to upgrade them to a color screen. If consumers still buy the monochrome screen palms, why waste money and cut into profit margin to give them more? What they fail to realize is that they still haven’t converted the huge number of the paper organizer users over. Why should anyone want to spend even $100 on something that looks like outdated technology? Would you pay $100 of today’s price for an old computer that can’t run Windows? Keeping the lowest end Palm in monochrome screen will continue the perception that they are outdated devices. You can’t even view a picture properly on a monochrome screen. Thankfully, Palm has finally changed by selling the Z22 which is a color screen. Now, this may be what will convince some people to try out the Palm. Now, this Palm can not only be a digital address book but also a virtual photo album. That changes the view.
And what is an iPod? It’s really a mini hard drive device with software that can play compressed audio music. Why is it such a BIG deal? Now, don’t get me wrong. I think iPods are great, but they really pale in comparison to a Palm. Palms were able to play mp3s long before iPods came out. Unfortunately, it all comes down to marketing. Even if you have a great product, if you fail at marketing, you will not get the exposure. And Palm seems to get a failing grade in that department. The last few times when Palm has unveiled their latest line up, Apple has been able to “trump” them simply by launching their products on the same day. Okay, Palm. Stop disclosing your release dates early on to the world so that your competitors can steal your thunder. This has happened way too many times to recall and it’s actually getting on my nerves. If you want to come out with a splash, you have to make sure you control the leaks and find ways to stop allowing your competitors to steal the show.
Apple has always been excellent at marketing. At the time when Apple came out with the iPod, they jammed everything and everywhere with their cool commercials. What did Palm do? Nothing. They hardly did much marketing to fend off a potential competitor. Now, they’re discovering the error of their ways and finally starting to come out with marketing of their Treo 650s in various metropolitan cities in the USA. Now, there’s all those big banners of the Treos in NYC. And, Verizon has started to come out with the Win Mobile Treo 700w TV commercials.
Still, that doesn’t touch on the other capabilities of the Palm. Instead, most people spend a few hundred dollars for an inferior mp3 player, or an iPod, or a thumb drive. What these devices can do, the Palm can do and much more. But, most people aren’t aware of it, unfortunately, because Palm fails to inform people about it with the marketing. People are somewhat aware there is a Palm out there, but they aren’t aware of what the current Palms can do beyond the address book capability. If I were Palm, I’d do some major marketing campaign to the general public to get the Palm name out and shatter that old Palm Pilot image, something like those E*Trade commercials where rocks are being thrown at the windows. Palm needs some bold marketing campaign to get people’s attention. That will require TV commercials, magazine ads, newspaper inserts, more promotion within the business community. Why are the Blackberrys so popular amongst the business community when it’s really very much a pager? It has marketed very well to that business community niche. Palm needs to do that with the Treo if they want to survive in an environment where you’re only going to survive if you continue to innovate.
And seriously, even being a diehard Palm fan, I think Palm needs to address quite a number of issues:
1 – Come up with something really innovative. The LifeDrive seemed like quite a different concept. Continue thinking up of new ideas and improve upon this line. Don’t abandon it.
2 – Come up with a different design. Come on. Over a decade of Palm devices and they all seem to be similar in form factor. Where’s the clam shell design? Improve on the slider design since a lot of Palm users love it. If others can come up with a Sidekick like design, try that and see how it’s received. Or try the clam shell type design of the Sony Clies as a lot of Palm users loved the Clies. Just improve on the internal cable so that it doesn’t break after a while.
3 – Ditch the “official” Palm forum. It’s appalling that Palm has come out with their own “official” forum but no one from Palm, not even those support guys that visit other Palm forums visit there. The majority of the questions posed get no response or answers and it only looks extremely bad on Palm. Things were perfectly fine when PalmOne didn’t have an official forum and visitors were directed to Brighthand (where I consider my second home) and all the Palm gurus were residing. There’s only so many of regular Palm people like myself who can spend the time to visit there and help out (but I admit that I haven’t been helping out as much lately). Ditch that forum and at least you’ve stopped the damage control somewhat in suggesting that Palm support is non-existant.
4 – Start marketing the Palm devices in magazines, newspapers, TV ads, retail displays, etc. In order to get the word out, you have to spend the money on those. As far as I can see, there’s so many people out there that doesn’t even know what a Palm device never mind what a Treo is. Sounds bad, but it’s true.
This is the end of part one of the “Why get a Palm series”. To read part 2, please click here.
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