I am and have been a long time user and fan of Palm's OS and devices. I have intensively troubleshot, used and owned Palm powered devices such as Sony Clies, Samsung SPH-I300, Samsung SPH-I330, Samsung SPH-I500, Treo 600, Treo 650, Treo 700p, Treo 680 and finally the Treo Centro. Certainly, my extensive background in the IT and Product Development fields have favored my experience with a variety of those types of devices including Blackberries, but more importantly, it also helped with the gathering of feedbacks from executives, business people and Power Users who are constantly on the go. My main focus is going to be on the feedbacks received from the growing population of smart phone or PDA users. What is it that they’re all after anyway? Well, here it is, broken down for you into 4 categories:
1. Uniqueness and attractiveness of the device or form factor.
2. User friendly device.
3. Device that is reliable.
4. Multimedia rich device.
In this editorial, I mainly want to emphasize on the importance of the category 1. In the other 3 categories, I believe that most manufacturers are progressively doing better in those areas. The potential for Palm devices to blow the competition in those categories is unquestioned thanks to its platform and the number of software developers out there that write software for that specific platform. Why then, isn't Palm and its proprietary platform leading the mobile technology industry by far? How did Blackberry devices go from being not so attractive and boring to becoming what they are today? Clearly, they made their products more attractive and multimedia rich. That would explain the rise of the number of Blackberry users out there.
Let's talk about why the uniqueness and attractiveness of a device is crucial in this day and age. Ninety percent of the users out there would purchase a wireless mobile device and would sign a contract with a different carrier if their current carrier does not carry that unique and attractive phone they so badly want. A fine example would be the iPhone by Apple. As expensive as it was, people still lined up at Apple stores and populated waiting lists so they can own one! Did I mention that it isn't even considered a smart phone? During it's initial release, non GSM service subscribers were calling their CDMA Wireless carriers about it, only to find out that they needed to have a GSM service; mainly AT&T. Needless to say, a good majority of non AT&T subscribers either ended their contracts with their existing carriers or started new lines of service with AT&T!
Realizing the market potential of the iPhone form factor and the unavailability of its CDMA version a year ago, mobile device manufacturers like HTC (formerly known as Audiovox) and Samsung released their own 3G versions in order to compete.
Apple released their CDMA version of the iPhone and once again, people lined up overnight. Sounds like HTC and Samsung are going to have a tough time competing with Apple's iPhone. Not too long after, iPhone users and similar phone users came to the realization of how painful it can be to type on the keyboard that appears on the device's screen. That led the iPhone competitors to redesign their version of the phone by incorporating a full QWERTY keyboard. Will the iPhone undergo the same changes in order to appease the concerns of its growing number of users? It will be interesting to see...
You're probably wondering about my previous statement aren't you? Well, it'll be interesting to see because if you haven't noticed, Apple has always paid attention to two particular aspects of their products: Design and Quality. That's what makes Apple products stand out in comparison to other products. For example, in the computer business, you can clearly see how Apple revolutionized the physical image of what a computer system could look like. On the PC side, despite the number of manufacturers except for Sony, the PCs pretty much retained the same form factor which can easily be translated as "old or boring" in our competitive global markets language today. Let’s get back to our original topic. Take a good look at the cell phones out there, pay close attention to their designs and point out one that's truly original, unique and innovative. My point exactly; there's none! They all look similar to one another! It’s like having different shades of one particular color; it’s monotone, boring. After reading a few blogs recently, I couldn't help to notice the rise in the number of Palm handheld users who complained about how Palm's devices pretty much all looked the same since the Treo 300 which was released back in July 2002! During the anticipation for the Treo Centro, a couple of bloggers posted the following comments:
Blogger 1: Surprises are nice :) but is it the same "Phone".
Blogger 2: It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Irrelevant.You folks rehash the same stale OS and hardware with minor tweaks for years...and you think we care anymore? Wake up. I tripped over this link on my way to find the directions to my local Apple and/or AT&T store. Yawn. Too little too late.
Yikes! There were other interesting comments as well and you can read them here (http://blog.palm.com/palm/2007/09/its-a-bird-its-.html). The message is clear: the times have changed. It’s definitely time for a change!
I would like to clarify that this article isn’t strictly aimed at Palm’s products necessarily, but all the cell phone and PDA manufacturers who need to get the message that it is time for a radical change where our ways of living and doing things need to evolve as we evolve.
After supporting those types of devices over the years and knowing what consumers are after, we have developed a couple of stunning products that would take the world by storm and revolutionize the way these types of devices are designed and manufactured. It’s time to think outside the box and that is what we do best here at NPlod Systems. These stunning products are Patent Pending and are on the market for licensing.