SM: The big opportunity that I felt Palm missed out on was on the software side. There was a huge opportunity for enterprise integration. RIM was very good with the email, but that was it. They didn’t push it any further. Palm had good implementation of the Windows OS, and they could have gone in that direction and become more of an enterprise player, but that did not really happen. There were all kinds of mixed signals from the company. EB: It was not failure to acknowledge the opportunity; it was failure to execute because the task of meeting operational demands by carriers became all consuming. The carriers did not leave the company with enough bandwidth or energy to go off and start playing with serious business expansion issues. One was to grow and become a credible supplier to the enterprise. We sought that by offering the Windows version of Palm that would get past the CIO checkpoints because we had the correct operating system from their perspective.
The other opportunity where we under-executed was in services. We felt that once a customer had committed to a Treo product, the customer would be receptive to buying services, enhancing the revenue stream for the company, and it would enhance the consumers’ experience with the product.
This is not unlike a Macintosh user. They subscribe to a .Mac service which gives them basic services to enhance their experience. It was a direct equivalent to that for a Treo user. It took us a very, very long time to get this off the ground.
SM: That aspect was also marketed very poorly. EB: I will not disagree with that. In the spring of this year we finally introduced the Palm service, which gives you a basic backup and recovery archival capability. Even today I think it is still in beta.
SM: I have written endlessly about Palm’s missed opportunities. It’s not like these were rocket science ideas. But the company has simply looked tired in the last year or so. No oomph. No guts. No juice.
And this begs the question, is yet another turnaround feasible? The market is there. But is the execution going to happen?
Over the next 4 parts of this series, we discuss this question in detail. However, to read the concluding portion of this series, you
will need to wait a few days, while the Elevation Partners transaction closes.