How Palm will battle Giants in Smartphones

In a land of cellphone giants, Palm is a mouse compared with AppleResearch in Motion, Samsung, GoogleMicrosoft and Nokia, which are battling to control the future of smartphones.

Palm invented the category of a Web-surfing pocket-computer phone with its Treo line in 2002. But more recently it lost its way as some of its rivals developed more innovative phones. Its new management team, introduced a new generation of smartphones with the $199 Palm Pre and $99 Pixi

Both phones got good reviews for being easy to use and great for Web browsing. But in recent weeks, Google’s Android operating system for smartphones has grabbed the attention of the public, as 
Verizon heavily promotes the Motorola Droid phone. While no one expected Palm’s sales would rival the sales of iPhones or BlackBerrys — and they have not — developers have not rushed to write applications for the phone as they have for the iPhone and Android phones. “You develop for the iPhone first and for Android second, then for Palm or not,” said Philip Cusick, an analyst with Macquarie Securities. 

Jon Rubinstein, Palm’s chief executive said in an interview that Palm does not need to be as big as its rivals to thrive. “One of the key things we need to do as a company is to get to scale,” he said. “We need to bring on more carriers and more regions.” 

Investors trying to read the mood of the consumer are unsure whether Palm will prevail. 
The volatility in Palm’s stock is a sign of the uncertainty over its ability to challenge the iPhone and BlackBerry. “Palm soared to $18 when people were expecting Pre to be a blockbuster. American tech bloggers went crazy over Pre and pronounced it to be the St. Paul following the iPhone Jesus,” he said. “Then Verizon started pushing Droid and the bloggers reversed.

Apple’s App Store now has more than 100,000 apps. No other phone operating system comes close, though there are about 10,000 apps for Android. Palm has about 300. Palm is still testing its app store, called the App Catalog, with a small group of developers. It will open to anyone who wants to write an app next month — six months after the Pre was introduced. “The companies that will deliver the best products are the ones that integrate the whole experience — the hardware, the software and the services ”. “We are doing a more general product that helps people live their lives seamlessly.”he said.

This year, Palm is also hoping for a tactical advantage with the Pixi, which will sell for $99 directly from Sprint and as low as $30 at Wal-Mart. That puts it in direct competition with other phones with keyboards like R.I.M.’s popular BlackBerry Curve. Verizon’s second Droid phone, the Eris made by HTC, also sells for $99, but it lacks a physical keyboard. “We think the Pixi is in the sweet spot of the market now,” he said. “It was designed for people who are transitioning from feature phones and getting their first smartphone.”
Palm is trying to copy the success it had with the Palm Centro, a small, inexpensive smartphone that sold three million units.

Analysts estimate Palm may be able to sell 10 million handsets next year, about 5 percent of the smartphone market. That assumes the company can get more carriers in the United States and Europe to sell Palm phones. 
Via The New York Times

I’m equally counting on Palm’s chief executive words, as to how they will battle this War of Titans(though am a Google fan boy) bang on OR creating all together a different place for them in user’s mind. Considering, the past success of Treos, it should not be that hard. Let’s see what comes in our palms from Palm Inc.

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