Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Palm gamble

I am a big Palm fan. I have always been and I will always be. Or so I hope, if they do not let me down. They did not let me down with the Pre. It is a fantastic device, beautifully engineered, sporting the best synchronization engine on the planet, really (and for the first time) giving iPhone a run for its money.

Now it is official: it will be out on June 6th and it will cost $199. Both numbers are interesting.

Why is $199 interesting? Because it is the right price to be competitive with the current iPhone.

Why is June 6th interesting? Because it is two days (two) before Apple WWDC, the developer conference when Apple is expected to announce a new lineup of iPhones (rumors abound: from new colored iPhones, to an iPhone mini, to an iPhone tablet, to new pricing, to....).

It is a huge gamble. Palm is announcing their make-it-or-break-it device two days before Apple is announcing something. They always do. Hard to believe they won't do it this time.

In any case, Palm will benefit from two days of huge marketing, pumped up by the expectation of the new iPhone two days later (expect the press to go berserk).

If Apple has something spectacular in store, though, the wind will be gone. Two days and Palm will be history in the press. Everybody will talk about how Apple did it again, how they killed the competition and so on...

If Apple disappoints, though, Palm is going to be on a trajectory towards the moon. The company that challenged Apple, the company that is ahead of Apple, the company that will kill the iPhone, and so on...

If Apple comes out in the middle, then Palm will be in the news anyway. They will have a big marketing push for free, lifted by the Apple marketing machine. They will be the challenger anyway, at least because they put themselves in front of the guns. They do not need to sell 10 millions devices in a month, they need to do ok to survive and grow.

It is a gamble. But a smart one. One I would have taken. The probability of Apple hitting out of the park are there, but the probability of something in the middle is higher (also, I have a feeling Palm knows more about Apple than we do...).

If they get it right, this might be remembered as one of the best marketing stunt in the history of mankind...