Apple and Palm Seem Like an Odd MixIn this Boston Herald article, Brett Arends says that Apple should buy Palm. On the surface, there are some similarities between the companies, but my gut says that the two just wouldn't mix well. In any case, there are some things the author says that I wanted to talk about.
[iPods] are heavy and the battery life isnít that great. Rival products the size of your thumb include a radio.
If there's a 60GB music player that's the size of my thumb, I'd sure like to see it. I'm particularly interested if it can display photos and video (though this negates the whole thumb thing).
Perhaps the author doesn't know about the Shuffle? It's hard to tell. The Shuffle is certainly not heavy. It's true it doesn't have FM tuning. Maybe this is something Apple should add.
Apple is trying to build a defensive moat around its business. Only an iPod will play iTunes music and use iPod accessories.
Not sure why it's so strange iPod accessories would only work on an iPod. Am I missing something? As for the iTunes/iPod connection, the iTunes store seems to do little more than break even. It's a tool for Apple to sell iPods. More to the point, they're designed to work as one, consistent product. I think this helps create an experience that is hassle free.
Consumers demand freedom and choice. Microsoft offered more of both and won the computer war, even though its technology was worse.
Oh the irony. If consumers demanded freedom and choice wouldn't there be more than just Mac and Windows computers in Best Buy?
Microsoft won round two of the ongoing operating system epoch, but it had nothing to do with freedom, choice or consumers at all. It did it through manipulation. Microsoft hasn't given any indication that it cares about choice except when it serves its business purposes.
Today, Iím fed up with carrying multiple devices. I donít want a cell phone, an electronic organizer, a music player, and a radio. I want one device that does it all. I suspect I am not alone.
Now he says he wants one device that "does it all," but I think what he really wants is one device that does all of these well, which is a much different thing. I'm skeptical a hyrid phone/music player/organizer is going to be able to match the experience of an iPod anytime soon.
A mobile phone is, for better or worse, built around phone calls and text messaging. It's hard to make a 5,000+ song library (not to mention videos and photos) work well in this context. In my experience, most multi-function devices end up being more interesting to gadgets freaks than the average consumer.
The iPod succeeds because the thing is designed to play music and do it well. The typical phone user experience is barely good for phone calls, let alone any secondary functionality. And there's another challenge -- what about battery life? I really don't want my talk time eating into my music/video time or vice-versa.
Once again, Microsoft gets it. You can already buy multi-function Pocket PC devices. The music player may not be as good as an iPod, but the products do more.
The fact that they "do more" is the very problem. This is the Microsoft mentality: more features equals better. For most people, though, the question is do the most important things work correctly?
I know Apple doesnít do takeovers, but buying Palm would be a terrific deal. It would instantly give it a huge presence in organizers and multi-function devices, with its own huge network of third-party software. Palmís revenues were $1.3 billion last year.
On paper, this actually does make sense. The purchase price would appear to pay for itself within a year or so. Of course there's much more to it than that.
The cultures would fit well: Palm is an entrepreneurial, creative, design-led company that hates Microsoft. Palm organizers already work with Macs.
With all due respect to the author, this sentence is mostly buzzwords. It doesn't tell us how well the two cultures would mesh. This is a problem with a lot of high-profile mergers.
My basic objection to all of this that I really don't think the approach that Palm takes to organizers is the right one. I don't think their products are a clear fit for the problem space. I knew a lot of people that had Palms them when they first came out, and I can't think of a single person now that actually uses them as their organizer. Silicon Valley should have more users than anyone. Somebody must be buying them, though, because Palm appears to be making money.
In theory, I could put all my scheduling and notes on my iPod, but I just don't see the point. The few things that I need away from my desk can just be put on paper.
The only value I could see in a deal like this is Apple could have a launching platform and expertise for entering the mobile phone market. The question is how well it would integrate with their current investments.
A lot of business run hastily into mergers because executives see "synergy" on paper but don't understand the details of what they're trying to do. Apple tends to not be so reactive, so I'm not so sure we're going to see a Palm purchase anytime soon.
Although it would be ironic for Apple to end up with the assets of Be.
Apple and Palm Seem Like an Odd Mix
Posted Dec 21, 2005 — 12 comments below
Posted Dec 21, 2005 — 12 comments below