Oh Palm, you were once a great of the smartphone world. We are indebted to you for bringing the Palm Pilot to the mainstream and furthering the spread of mobile devices. But your time has come. The sickness that formed with your years of weak Treo offerings couldn't be stemmed by a late dose of webOS. We'll always miss you, Palm.
Touching, but we didn't really need today's news to know that Palm was in serious trouble. The evidence had been building for months. Palm's stock had already been dropping for weeks on reports of weak sell-through at Verizon
The fear resonating from Palm's CEO Jon Rubinstein saying, "driving broad consumer adoption of Palm products is taking longer than we anticipated" in today's statement is dead-on. The longer Palm flounders, the less incentive there is for carriers to see this as a game-changing product and attach the heavy promotions that any Palm offerings need to drive customer awareness. Will it shock anyone if AT&T's promotions for the phone are far more tepid than Verizon's were?
The smartphone race doesn't allow companies to sit back, finding just the right time to make a move. It's quickly coalescing around a handful of platforms. Palm might be able to hang on as an also-ran of the smartphone world for the time being, but as with any industry, those also-rans get swept under the rug as the market matures. Unless Palm has some kind of unique niche it can capitalize on, and it keeps its prices above a litany of Androids marching toward a subsidized free price, it'll soon have to face that fact.
However, the company doesn't have any niche to occupy. Its webOS is just another platform fighting for a slice of the consumer-spending pie, offering little differentiation from Apple's
So while Palm fanatics will continue to beat the drums about its smartphones' many advanced features, consumers aren't noticing. Even worse, the carriers are starting to lose patience, and any window of opportunity for Palm to prove why its platform is superior is closing fast.
This is still a volatile stock -- it could very well rebound off today's low and see plenty of ups and downs going forward. However, in the long term, Palm's in trouble. Then again, we didn't need today's announcement to see that.
Eric Bleeker doesn't own shares of companies listed above. Sprint Nextel and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Rule Breakers selection and Apple is a Stock Advisor recommendation. Motley Fool Options recommends a diagonal call position on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool has a disclosure policy.
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