Today, I happened to be at the Stanford Shopping Center for lunch. I stopped by the Palm store to see the Palm 680. The Palm store in Palo Alto should be their flagship store, I guess. It is the birthplace of Silicon Valley, after all. It should be shiny and inviting.
Instead, it is such a depressing place... The front window displays only PDAs, not even one Treo. Who in the world is still buying PDAs??? You walk in, the colors are bleak. Few Treos on two tables. Nobody inside but a guy talking to his phone (at least, that was a Treo). Since there was no 680 around, I asked him about it and he said "we do not have it, but I can put you on the waiting list". On the waiting list?? You announced it on October 12th and today you announced it is available on Cingular!! You do not even have ONE phone on display??
I walked out and I thought "man, this sucks, how in the world can they attract consumers?". So I walked few steps and I entered the Apple store. No windows. Full of people playing with devices. I looked around a bit lost for three seconds and a friendly guy asked me if I needed help. Actually, I was looking for the new iPod shuffle. It was on the table. I could not see it because it was so small. But he had one attached to his t-shirt and he gave it to me... I played with it for a minute. I loved it. I will definitely buy one (or maybe way more, we'll see). I walked out smiling.
That's a consumer experience. Apple announces a product, the same morning you walk in any Apple store and you play with it. My daughter wants to go to the Apple store because she wants to play with the videogames they have there. I am forced there. I ended up buying an iPod and an iBook for my wife, although I have never been a Mac person. I might become one, though...
Funny enough, I came to the office and I saw an article on the Mercury News about Palm and Apple where the CEO of Palm says "What, me worry" about Apple? Naaahhh.
Well, I do not think Palm should be worried about Apple. They should simply learn from what they do. They do it simply great. I am on THAT waiting list, the one of the people waiting for the iPod phone. It will be an awesome device and it will change the way we look at mobile. I am ready to bet on it. They will not do a deal with a carrier. They will go around them, with an unlocked device or an Apple MVNO. It will have messaging, beyond SMS (something between IM and email). They will open this market up and shake it.
I am looking forward to it, so should be Palm, if they are really thinking about consumers.