There is no question that I love my Palm Pre Plus and webOS, but I have to air a few grievances this week. While I was and am all for Hewlett-Packard’s knight-in-shining-armor acquisition of Palm, I am not sure I follow some of HP’s current business moves.
First, it appears as though HP will be phasing out the Palm name. In a recent interview by Brandweek, Richard Gerstein of HP stated, “Clearly, what we’ve announced is that it will be branded HP. It will [be] HP computers and phones (sic). We are still working through the role of the the Palm name after that (sic).” Clearly? Really? As far as I can recall, this is the first I am hearing that HP branding will take over. The Palm name seemed to be staying in some capacity up until this point, or so I thought. Remember all the fun little mock-ups floating around of a combined HP/Palm logo?
Palm may not have reached its full potential under its own business model and plan, but it wasn’t due to its name. Other factors like marketing, distribution, retail employee training and company size were a lot to blame. But if Palm had anything, it certainly had brand recognition and value. I can’t help but wonder what recently changed or if it’s about ego for HP. Regardless, I just hope a branding change to HP doesn’t cause webOS smartphones to get lumped in with Dell and other traditionally PC companies that have entered the smartphone world.
My second point of contention is that it looks like the next webOS smartphone will just be a super-sized Pre Plus. I don’t know about you, but I am a little bored with constant reincarnations of the same two phones - the Pre and the Pixi. While the strategy of having a single or minimal model lineup of essentially the same but continuously revamped smartphone is working for some companies, it’s obviously not working for Palm, as shown by market-share and sales over the last year. So why continue on this path and roll out a Pre Plus 2?
Model lineup strategy aside, I think there are even more pressing concerns with a Pre Plus 2. First and foremost, Pre and Pre Plus complaints over the last year have mostly focused on hardware and it appears that the Pre Plus 2 will be virtually the same in terms of hardware and styling. Second, if HP is basically just releasing a super-sized Pre Plus as the next webOS smartphone, why did we have to wait so long? It seems a little anti-climatic to say the least. And finally, if HP wants to kick off its smartphone debut with a bang and something that will stir up more than just buzz but an actual dent in the smartphone market, a Pre Plus 2 isn’t going to cut it. Regardless of how great the specs may be, the average consumer is just going to see the same Pre or Pre Plus that they didn’t buy the last time they were shopping for a smartphone.
So while I would like nothing more than to see webOS shine and reach its full potential, I have to admit that I am a little concerned by the current turn of events. What are your thoughts on HP branding and a Pre Plus 2?