Palm’s smartphone revisited

Last week’s Technology Guardian covered the launch of Palm’s pre smartphone.  For reasons I’ve already mentioned in this blog, I’m not optimistic about the prospects for it.  Incidentally I hope my pessimism is misplaced: it looks to be a good product, and Palm has a track record as an innovative company.

But the problem goes back to disruptive technologies, where a disruptive technology is one that can change the structure of a business sector, and make it very hard for established players.  The disruptive technology here is the addition of a SIM card to a whole range of mobile devices.  Palm was a brand leader in devices that worked like a stand-alone electronic Filofax.  A connected electronic Filofax may be technically a similar product, but it’s perceived very differently by its users, and the brands associated with these devices are Blackberry, HTC, even Apple with the I-phone.  That’s a crowded market that Palm will find hard to enter unless they can offer another new kind of product.

And the market for personal digital assistants is fickle.  In the 1990s one very well respected manufacturer tried to enter the market with little success.  The manufacter?  Apple, with the Newton, and many of the Newton’s features were later adopted by Palm.

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