Sat Feb 27 2010

Jon Rubinstein's letter to Palm employees

A little over one month ago I posted an open letter to Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein. In that post, I commented on a quote of his from a CES interview with Kara Swisher where he said he had never used an iPhone - and how grave something like that was, for a person set to dominate the hand-held market. If you haven’t read that post yet, you should probably do so now for a little bit of history.

I just read on the WSJ about Jon Rubinstein’s letter to Palm employees, where he admits and comments on Palm’s poor sales performance and the slow adoption of WebOS and WebOS-based devices (like the Pre). In the very straightforward letter, Jon says:>As we mentioned in our press release, our softer than expected performance is due to slower than expected customer adoption of our products, which in turn has prompted our U.S. carrier partners to put additional orders on hold for the time being.

I can’t help but think everyone saw this coming. It’s a complicated market, and while I’m quite sure people would like for there to be an alternative to the iPhone (competition is always a good thing, as it keeps you on your toes), I’m unsure as to how in touch with their audience Palm truly are. The “never used an iPhone” was a hint, but the sales numbers are the proof.

Dear Palm: figure out why people are passionate about the iPhone - then instead of imitating it, figure out what (in that space) you can do even better. Innovation and passionate users will be the driver of sales (they were for the iPhone, and they will be for the hypothetical iPhone “killer” of the future).