Saturday, September 24, 2005

Palm Treo rant

It appears that Palm will be joining with Microsoft on their next Treo phone. I find this extremely disturbing. I rely heavily on my Treo 600 for my business. I keep my calendar on it. I keep many of my contacts on it. I keep track of my finances on it. I get calls on it. And when I'm not available, my answering service texts my messages to me on it. Oh, and when I'm sitting in Court waiting and I forgot to bring something to read, I play solitaire on it (and when I can't sleep too). I even use it to get on the web and get directions once in a while when I'm lost.

The Treo OS is easily the best phone OS (operating system) out there. I'm addicted to it. When the 600 came out, they had the market in their hands. Everyone who reviewed it knew it. Walter Mossberg, the revered Wall Street Journal columnist, loved it (and I think he still does).

But they came out with it about 3 years ago. Everywhere else in the world of computers and phones, things improve at a rapid rate. Various new models appear, expanding on what's good. Not Palm. They stuck with the 600 with no changes for more than a year. Then they came out with the 650, which was barely an improvement. It actually had the same amount of RAM (memory), only with a LESS efficient filing system so many users suddenly found the new 650 couldn't hold everything they had on their old 600. The only significant improvements were Bluetooth (which allows for wireless headsets) and better camera software (not terribly important since the camera isn't much anyway -- a quarter of a megapixel with no flash). Oh, and the keyboard is supposedly better too. I haven't bothered upgrading to the 650 because it's not enough of an improvement and I can't justify spending an extra $600+ or so for it. I think I'm eligible for a better deal on a new phone through Sprint in a few months, and I'll probably buy the 650 then. I can't see myself buying a Windows phone.

I should mention the one downside of my Treo 600. I'm on my fourth one. The hardware keeps failing, so the phone part stops working right. Not sure if the 650 is any better about that. But they don't make the 600 any more so I'll have to get a 650 before it disappears. Once that dies, we'll see what's out there.

2 1/2 years ago, their management should have figured out they had struck gold, and built on what they had. Make multiple versions of the phone! Build a range from a low-end phone with no camera and relatively less memory, to a high-end phone with tons of memory, a good camera, and an MP3 player (maybe with iTunes), and throw in a pink one for girly-girls (or girly-guys) and maybe a special edition model associated with a rock band (like U2 and the iPod). Oh, but that would be marketing like Apple does. (In another post I'll rave about how much I love Macs -- I haven't even tried an iPod yet.) Hmm. Maybe somehow we can talk Apple into making a smartphone. Steve Jobs would actually know what to do with it. How about Apple buying Palm out? Putting iTunes on a smartphone makes sense because users regularly sync with a desktop, unlike a regular cell phone. Just a dream.

After I got hooked on the Treo 600, I sent a letter to Palm's CEO and COO suggesting something like that, telling them how awesome the Treo 600 was, etc. No response. A customer who paid over $600 for your product sends you a nice letter and you don't even have a college intern write a thank you note?

This company's managers are what's known as "empty suits". They wear nice suits. They probably have great resumes and MBAs from top schools. They seem to know a lot about merging, IPOs, and other arcana in the world of finance, but they don't know jack about running a company, developing a product, or marketing to consumers.

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