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What’s Holding Back the Pre and Pixi?

by chris | January 31, 2010January 31, 2010 10:10 am PST

Now that CES is in our rear view mirror, we’ve gotten a sense of how our favorite companies are doing and what they’ve got planned for the future. As you may recall, just a year ago at CES 2009 Palm made their comeback (or attempt at a comeback) with the introduction of the Pre and WebOS operating system. It was a product introduction that caused both controversy and excitement.

Now, with four Palm phones on the market and more on the way, has Palm achieved the market penetration they should have? I’m not so sure they have.

pre-gaming

Although the Pre is generally a phenomenal phone, I think there are three main things that have held it back, and these three things apply to the Pixi as well. The first is the lack of apps: for some time I didn’t think this would play too much into the overall experience, but after spending a while with the Pre I realized that the gorgeous UI only goes so far before boredom sets in. Without an arsenal of apps, it makes the experience seem lacking and a tad empty. That said, at their CES 2010 keynote, Palm made it clear that they’ve got more coming with their new SDK. While it’s nice to see Palm try and make a better effort to get more apps in the catalogue, it won’t be as enticing for developers since Palm devices cover a much smaller user-base. There’s a bigger market for developers looking to make Android or iPhone apps, but only time will tell if developers will jump on board.

preplus

The second limiting factor for the success of the Pre and Pixi, which is now being addressed, is availability. For a full year, the Pre has been exclusively available on Sprint. While Sprint has a great network, they are number 3 of 4 in the US in terms of subscribers. With the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus hitting Verizon currently and AT&T for later this year, the availability of the Pre and Pixi is destined to increase significantly.

The third issue is the lack of marketing. Overall, people just haven’t heard about the new Palm devices, or the only thing they might recognize is the creepy-girl who stars in the ads.  The Pre and the Pixi never had the buzz that the iPhone and Moto Droid once did, and this can be attributed to a failed marketing effort.

As any Palm Pre or Pixi user will tell you, the WebOS platform is fantastic in its ability to multitask and be productive. It’s now just a matter of Palm addressing some of these other issues, and it looks like they’re on the right track:  they’re doing a lot to expand the availability of the devices by putting them on additional carriers, and they’re working with developers to help the SDK gain traction in the development community. Add a smart marketing push, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

What do you think? Is Palm on the right track?