It appears that Wall Street is giving up on Palm
after sales of the Pre have been massively disappointing, and Sprint (their only US partner) appears to be focusing more and more on HTC Android-powered phones these days. At the same time, developers are recognizing that if they're creating mobile apps, they need to decide which platforms to work on, and the markets for the iPhone and Android smartphones look a lot
This is, in large part, due to poor planning on the part of Palm and Sprint. First, Palm was way too slow in really opening up
its developer program. By the time it finally got around to it, more and more Android phones were hitting the market, with much more of a marketing push. Developers, given the choice, will go for the platform that actually has users. That's why I still say it was a huge mistake for Palm and Sprint not to have figured out a way to give away the Palm Pre for free
. The thing that Pre needed more than anything else was market share. With market share it could attract developers and a loyal following. Without that, Palm is dead and everyone knows it. Having failed at that, and now thrown away its head start over the rush of Android-powered devices hitting the market, Palm is quickly looking like an afterthought, just months after the Pre was released.
I actually stopped by a Sprint store earlier this week, because I was interested in seeing its recent Android-powered phones in person. I played around with them, and then picked up the Palm Pre as well -- and I have to admit that the hardware on the Pre is really nice. It's just a much nicer overall package than the HTC Hero (an Android-powered phone) -- more compact, had a more solid feel, and the slide out keyboard is actually quite nice (if a bit small). But, after seeing all the developer support moving towards Android, I have no interest in betting on a dying OS. And that's when I wondered why Palm didn't just release an Android-powered Pre as well. I recognize that it's got a lot invested in webOS, but it's a sunk cost and a losing strategy.
A few years back, after years supporting its own Palm operating system, the company started offering Treo's that supported Windows Mobile. It's time to do that again, but for Android, letting the company actually make use of a much larger, committed developer community, rather than trying to keep the whole thing in-house.