Competing with the iPhone

Ingo Hinterding wants to have a Plam Pre. The multi-touch, turning UI is clearly attacking the iPhone market share. I think the Palm Pre will not succeed as an “iPhone killer”.

Here is a demonstration of the most important features by someone that thinks the Palm Pre can compete with the iPhone:

I have written about companies that tried to kill the iPod. And I rightfully predicted that they are not going to make it. I think the Palm Pre will fail for similar reasons.

The Palm Pre may be competitive from a UI perspective (although I personally do not like the shape of the device). But there is more to it than having a device and a UI:

Like with the iPod Apple does not just provide a slick device but rather a complete ecosystem. The iTunes Application Store seems to become a success and it is as easy as can be to get certified (secure) applications installed on the device. The OS on the iPhone is MacOS X, so it is quite simple for existing MacOS X developers to jump onto the iPhone and develop applications with their know-how. Steve Jobs learned from his biggest mistake at NeXT: while NeXTSTEP was a superior system there were not enough applications available and developers were not interested because the NeXT market was tiny and they needed to learn a complete new system.

Palm would have to compete with that as well. I suspect the missing developer base will inhibit the wider adoption of Palm Pre in the market. The Palm ecosystem needs to be complete and all players in that ecosystem need to have provisions and ready made options to enter that domain at a low cost. Palm could make the Pre a success by offering it at a very aggressive price: there are enough people that would like to have an iPhone of they could afford one.

But Palm needs to do more than copying: They need to innovate. I do not see an innovative marketing story that really beats the Apple offering, yet.

Update 1: Apple executives hinted Wednesday that the company might legally contest the multitouch technology found within the Palm Pre. (Source: PC Magazine)

Update 2: Engadget reports over potential patent war between Apple and Palm.

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5 Comments

  1. I guess you are right that the Pre is not going to be the iPhone Killer and i think there will “never” be an iPhone Killer. The company that wants to kill the iPhone has to kill Apple, which is a bit difficult. But i think that the Pre will succeed because it is a good device with a good UI. The most important Apps will be available on the Pre which could be enough for a lot of people.

  2. Yes, Tamim, you may be right. But I think in the best case the Palm Pre would repeat the rise & fall of the Zune MP3 Player – which was introduced by Microsoft with much more marketing power than Palm has.

  3. “A Built-In QWERTY-Keyboard” – What an amazing iPhone-killing feature. Not! The iPhone has it’s keyboard built in the software, which makes it much easier to handle and – by the way – allows you to change the layout. Plus: No need to fear any fair wear and tear effects. What about built-in Mailclients and Webbrowsers? Seen on iPhone as well and even though one might still miss a flash-plugin releasse, both the safari and built-in Mailclient do a pretty good job. And what about that ‘killing’ multi-touch display? Has anyone pronouncing this pre-phone being ‘the next iPhone killer’ ever even had an iPhone at his disposal?

  4. I observed people have a hard time to use the non-haptic keyboard – the missing tactile feedback is somewhat irritating for people. It “feels” less of a problem if the tick-sound is enabled. The mere coincidence of a sound supports the idetification of a sucessful keypress much more than the visual “highlight” of the key above the finger cap does.

    On the other hand I think omitting the keyboard makes the production of the device much simpler. I personally do not like devices that are not one solid piece (e.g. slide-out keyboards etc.)

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