With the iPhone announcement, we enter an era when all the other smartphone providers need to now sit up and define their own clear positioning and path forward. With Steve Jobs working his PR machine, and the media lapping up the show and tell, it is imperative that Palm, for instance, decides where it goes next.
So, in the same vein that I have written about Yahoo’s turnaround formula, let me sketch a hypothesis for Palm, which I also think could have a bright future ahead.
Let’s start with where Apple and the iPhone will never go: Business Applications.
And by this, I mean the non-email types of applications. I mean the heavy duty business applications. SAP. Salesforce.com. Webex. I mean CRM, PLM, ERP, MRP. I mean mission critical. This is one place where business users need to go, and an alliance between Palm and the enterprise application eco-system could well be the way to get there.
Apple is and will always be a consumer electronics company, so the enterprise segment opportunity will remain wide open. I strongly believe, this is Palm’s best bet going forward.
The other opportunity for Palm is to build devices that are “killer” application specific, but focused on the billions of “new” computer users. I spoke about this opportunity earlier here, and fantacised about Steve Jobs taking a crack at this. However, realistically, this is not an opportunity that Apple will go after. However, Palm could build a “Micro-Finance Phone” in collaboration with CitiBank, and go after the Fortune At the Bottom of the Pyramid.