Your basic ITPro blog... What's going on at work, what I'm interested in.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sprint and Palm – Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot!

I want to start by saying that I love my Palm Pre! And, I really like Sprint as a carrier. I always have great coverage everywhere I travel. The Pre is a really nice phone. Palm’s WebOS is great and will only get better (it is only at version 1.3.1). Give it a few major versions to really grow.

That being said, Sprint and Palm are facing a major uphill battle. First, Sprint is a little dog in a big fight, when compared to Verizon, AT&T, etc. Whenever I see smartphone coverage, Sprint is never referred to in terms of market leadership. Likewise, Palm has been slipping in prominence for years and is, when you look at the numbers, just a bit-player in all of this. Android 2.0 and the Droid phone have just made a crowded field even more crowded.

So, how is Sprint and Palm supposed to compete against Verizon, AT&T, Android, iPhone, WinMo, etc. etc. etc.?!

Fortunately, I think there is an answer, and it is staring them right in the face… if only they will be brave enough to see it and act (I know they see it, but will they act?!).

Openness… the answer is openness!

Sprint and Palm need to embrace the rich ‘hacker’ user-based community that is developing around WebOS. There are some awesome things happening that are really extending the functionality of this platform. Homebrew apps outnumber ‘official’ App Catalog apps. There are over 100 patches for WebOS available that do all sorts of cool things! People are building themes for WebOS that allow users to personalize their phone in great ways. In short, the users themselves are passionate about this platform and are doing some amazing work at growing and extending it.

In short, people are passionate about, and hungry for, this platform! I am not the only one who loves my Palm Pre!

I believe that Palm’s WebOS (and Sprint) will be a success to the degree that Palm and Sprint embrace this environment. They need to create an environment and promotes and encourages this sort of development. Remove restrictions, publish resources for developers, and DON’T HINDER APPS THAT GENERATE THE MOST EXCITEMENT!

I am specifically talking about tethering!!

It seems like ‘tethering’ is a bad word in the smartphone business. Everyone wants to tell you how great their phone is, how many apps are available, how great the network coverage is…. they tout their ‘unlimited data plans’… Then tell you about all the limitations! Unlimited data should mean that I should have no limitations on my data use! That’s a service I would pay for.

Tethering is that ‘killer app’ that Sprint and Palm needs. It appeals to casual users, geeks, and working professionals. They should have no limits on tethering and should be promoting that they have truly unlimited data, including tethering. Work with your app developers. Incorporate their best ideas into the OS. Give them the freedom to develop apps that your users want (and that other platforms don’t have). You want to grow, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN THE OTHER GUYS!

I am very happy being a Sprint/Pre owner. I only hope that, when my contract comes up, that I will still be. But, that it not in my hands… that is up to Sprint and Palm.

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