Monday, January 19, 2009
Posted by Vincent Ferrari in "Apple iPhone & iPod Touch" @ 08:00 AM
I remember it very clearly. It was January 2007, and I was sitting in my office furiously refreshing the page on my work computer reading the liveblogging that was going on. It was finally here; Steve Jobs was announcing the iPhone. It was a device thousands upon thousands of loyal Apple customers were dying for. A phone designed to work with their platform, not hacked to "function" with it. Out of the box, it was designed to sync our contacts and calendar, give us e-mail that was better than anything else on the market, and a web experience that no one on the market could match. I'll never forget how my mind boggled that day, and I haven't felt that way about a product announcement since then. Today, however, I think another company has finally done something that I never thought I would see: developed a competitor to the iPhone that could take a bite out of the iPhone, and surprise of surprises, it's Palm.Let's face it. For the past few years, Palm has been nothing short of a joke. Treo after Treo waddled to market exciting pretty much no one. For the most part they were incremental upgrades to existing models. Their first new model came two years ago in the form of the Palm Centro, a model decidedly targeted at the low-end "wants a PDA that's cheap" customer. Palm has languished in mediocrity with their line of PDA's, bungled an announcement of the Foleo only to later revoke it, and left its much hyped Palm OS 6.0 buried in corporate headquarters never to be seen in public view.
Palm also has been losing money hand over fist, making it a buyout target and the subject of constant rumors about its future. Management has been called incompetent and ineffective and has been changed too many times to count over the past three to four years. In a word, the company appeared to be falling apart and an icon of what ushered in the era of PDAs looked to be dead in the water.
It was with that in mind that many tech journalists said, before Palm's announcement at CES last week, that the announcement was going to make or break the company. Luckily for them, it may just have been the shot in the arm they needed.