While Palm has its fans, the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi (with or without the 'Plus' moniker) is not exactly burning up the marketplace with their sales numbers.  What is the problem with this once venerable gadget company that seems to be constantly teetering on the brink of death?

As we recently reported about how smartphone sales were way up this past quarter, Palm didn't even rate high enough to be listed on its own.  And in a note about AT&T possibly getting Palm devices this May, we actually found information that showed Palm lost 2.2 percent market share between Sept. and Dec. 2009.  What can Palm do to possibly put a turnicate on this hemorrhaging of market share and device sales?

palm_preBefore anyone comes hunting for my head … the physical appearance of the phones need to be improved.  Now, don't go thinking I mean, "make it look like the iPhone", because that isn't what I mean at all.   With the Pre's  QWERTY keyboard closed it looks okay, but not really eye-catching in any way.  It's just sort of "there."  The Palm Pixi feels like something is missing from it, the keys don't look that sturdy to me, and I am strictly talking on look, not actual performance.  The overall physical design of the phones just seem kind of lackluster and could use some sprucing up.

The second thing is those blasted creepy ads.  You can see one of them above, and if you somehow missed these when they first aired, lucky you.  When I worked as a journalist covering the toy industry back in the 1990's, every year at the International Toy Fair, as I toured showrooms they would inevitably ask me if I wanted to see "the sizzle."  This was the toy industry term for a TV commercial and the nickname came from the fact the ad had to "sizzle" off the screen to capture the child audience it was directed at.

If you look at the Palm ad above, even though the woman mentions the word "phone" early on, it isn't until the last few seconds you had any clue what she was talking about.  This is your launch campaign for a phone that has been said needs to save the company?  How about telling us about the phone.  Why should we choose it over another?  What are two to three key features that set you apart from the other phones in the market?  Stylish is nice once in a while, but at some point you need to tell us the actual facts about the product.

These are two simple steps to hopefully improving the status of Palm in the smartphone market, neither one will work on its own, the company has to work on multiple aspects of its game plan if it wants to start gaining traction.  None of this is to say the phones are bad at this time, but if you're going to survive, you need more than a loyal core of fans using your devices.

What would you suggest Palm do to improve its sales figures?