by Tom Kaneshige

Apple Is the Tiger Woods of Tech

Jun 09, 20092 mins
Enterprise Applications

Palm's future looks bleak after Apple Monday

Here’s some unsolicited advice to the foolhardy marketers at Palm: Don’t ever try to trump Apple again. It’s like watching an old golfer melt down against Tiger on a Sunday. It’s painful to watch. 

Palm’s best days, of course, are long gone. Its balance sheet bleeds red ink today. And so the company made a heroic stab at a comeback with the Pre smartphone. Palm engineers and designers, who undoubtedly spent late nights creating the Pre, delivered a technological piece of art. They should be proud.

But then the marketers with visions of grandeur got involved: Let’s release the Pre two days before Apple’s iPhone 3G S announcement. Apple’s powerhouse marketing machine—the best there ever was in tech—didn’t even blink.

Apple buzz has been building for months as the giddy Apple faithful waited for the unveiling of Snow Leopard and a new iPhone 3G S at Apple’s worldwide developer conference. It reached a crescendo only days before the event with rumors that the great innovator himself, Steve Jobs, might make an appearance after a six-month layoff (which, of course, he didn’t).

More than 5,200 developers at Apple’s sold-out conference watched new Apple ads bash Microsoft and laughed at speakers’ snarky comments about the Pre. Then came the iPhone 3G S: a cool smartphone chock full of new features, such as faster speeds and video capabilities. The Pre doesn’t have video.

The iPhone pricing model was a stroke of genius: A 16 GB iPhone 3G S costs the same as an 8 GB Pre. With sheer bravado, Apple also shook up the low-end smartphone market by announcing that the older iPhone 3G will cost only $99.

Palm’s share price, which spiked after the Pre release, fell on Apple Monday. The Pre is still good technology so there’s a chance Palm can carve out some market share. But its two-day preemptive strike against Apple – a wayward shot off the first tee – makes for a pitiful start against the world’s greatest marketing machine.