Why Palm is Doomed

I bought a Palm Vx a few years ago for almost $500 - I was one of the first people in line back when I had the cash to be an early adopter. I never really got into using it as an organizer and ended up keeping it around as to read eBooks and for a 100,000 word Spanish/English dictionary. But in the past year I haven't even used it that much because the digitizer went bad and now everytime I pick it up, I have to reset the digitizer because it's always screwy. Put me up there on the list of people who think small keyboards rule.

Anyways, after my weekend looking at mobile stuff, I decided to fish out my Palm so I could use it again to play with J2ME and to read on the bus (especially on the bus home which is now at night and bus doesn't have lights). Thankfully, I found a freeware digitizer-corrector online so I could do this. Looking out on Google, digitizer problems are not at all uncommon for Palm hardware...

I've got 8 megs on this bad boy, so I've got room for some eBooks and some shareware software (almost all the software I bought for the Palm got blown away in my disk-disaster in October. Bleh.) It's okay, but it really doesn't hold a hell of a lot of books to read, especially if I use Adobe's PDF reader for the palm. The 2.5 Meg Mastering EJB in PDF became a 3.4 Meg Palm file! And the Adobe reader is slow as hell on this thing's Dragonball processor. It works, but it's definitely time to start looking for something better.

One would think that I'd be able to just replace the Palm with a new one, and because of Moore's law, I'd be able to get something 2 times as powerful and 1/3rd the price. But you know what? That's not the case. This is what reminded me why I think the Palm is heading for the scrapheap, and quickly.

Last winter, in addition to Symbian, I also started exploring doing development for the Palm platform. Palm is actually a lot easier to do development for because there are more tools out there, there's real emulators and you can do your development using just plain C code instead of C++. And last year, Handspring launched their Treo and I thought it might be a sign of good things to come and started thinking seriously about the PalmOS. But it didn't last for long. After reading about their plans for PalmOS 5 and the ARM processor, I decided that these guys are doomed. They SEEM like they have all the right things going for them. They have a lead in PDAs, they bought the BeOS and have several high-profile licensees like Sony. But it's all crap. Palm doesn't know how to execute. And now, almost a year later, I'm being proved correct in my decision not to target the platform.

Last night, I checked out Palm's website to reaquaint myself with their offerings and found a page on one of their newest devices, the Zire. It is sooooo sad. A 16Mhz Dragonball processor and 2 megs of RAM. Whaaat?!? Is this 1996??? In contrast to this, Dell just announced their new PDA, the Axim X5, which will cost $199 and have a 300Mhz XScale processor, 64 Megs of Ram, multimedia, slots, etc. etc. The difference is amazing. Dell is braving a new market with an innovative product and Palm is just pumping out more and more high-priced crap to the market with little or no innovation at all. Even if you compare the Axim to the Palm m130 which is a similarly priced device from Palm, there's no contest. Personally, I think Palm is doomed (though they don't seem to think so obviously).

Palm missed so many opportunities in the past several years... I don't understand why the PalmOS isn't on every mobile phone out there. It's a perfect fit. Even if the U.S. is more data centric than Europe (I got that from a RegisterUK article) they still should have been reading the writing on the wall. You can't compare mobile phone sales to PDAs... phones just blow the out of the water. The Nokia 9200 Communicator is the best selling PDA in Europe, but as a mobile phone, it's sales numbers are laughable. Palm should have seen this.

Palm lost the opportunity to kick ass on the low-power processor phones and they didn't do any development on the high-powered PDAs and now their lunch is getting eaten by Symbian on the low end and Microsoft (ugh) and Linux on the high end. Amazingly dumb and it doesn't look like they're doing anything to improve the situation. It's sad.

That's all. I'm saving up for a Nokia 7650 or a Sharp now. No more Palms for me.


< Previous         Next >