Andy Ihnatko, I Respectfully Disagree

In the most recent episode of MacBreak Weekly (episode 136: EULA Schmeula) Andy Ihnatko, regarding the Palm Pre, said this:

The mac isn’t a home run in terms of commercial appeal, and yet it can do very very well with 8 or 9% of the market. The Pre doesn’t have to beat the entire smartphone market, they don’t have to beat the iPhone, they don’t have to beat the blackberry. All they have to do is establish credibility and that they have a platform that is going to last at least 2 more years. I think that their goal for this launch should be to get people to think twice about switching to an iPhone or switching to a BlackBerry, so long as they are a part of the decision matrix, they get a win.

Wrong. Unfortunately Palm doesn’t have the luxury of being able to treat the Pre this way, they need it to sell, fairly well, or Palm might be over. When we are talking about a company (Palm) that has steadily been losing market share over the past few years they really need a true winner. Just because Palm is in the decision matrix doesn’t mean they win, even if they are involved in someones decision making process for purchasing a smartphone, Palm doesn’t win unless someone actually buys the handset.

Palm’s goal shouldn’t just be to get people to think twice before buying a smartphone. Why would anyone want to buy a cell phone from a company with that kind of goal? Especially when there are cell phone companies out there whose goal it is to make the best phone available.

I’m not saying the Palm Pre has to sell gang busters, I’m more or less asserting that Ihnatko’s idea of what Palm’s goal should be, is obviously wrong. The Mac has proved that a company can exist with a relatively small market share. But, Apple is one of those companies that wants to make the best device available, Palm needs to want that too.

It appears to me that Palm thinks they have a home run on their hands, but I’m hoping that they want this to be the best cell phone available, even if that is true just for the people that buy it. Macintosh computers are where they are today because the people who use them, love them, Palm needs to gain that type of customer loyalty with the Pre, they at least need to strive for that, otherwise I don’t know how they could ever pull themselves out the this hole.

Update 6/4/09: Reviews have started to be released for the Palm Pre. So far I’ve found reviews by the following writers: Walt Mossberg, Joshua Topolsky, David Pogue, Jason Chen, Bonnie Cha, Steven Levy.