Palm provides a case study in user experience strategy
Palm, which launched a new flagship device and platform earlier this month, is a company staring at the very real possibility of extinction. The pioneering user experience of its PDAs has long since been super-seeded by smartphones, while its own range of Treo handsets lacks differentiation and is rapidly losing market share to competitors. It is in a precarious financial position, burning cash as its top-line revenues fall and relying on a single private equity investor (Elevation Partners) to keep it afloat.
It is difficult, therefore, to overstate the importance of the new Palm Pre device and webOS platform. Pre needs to succeed by selling millions of units in the first year and webOS must establish itself as a viable alternative to the other software platforms on the market, demonstrating differentiated features and an ability to attract third party developers.
If we set aside the hype surrounding the launch, this scenario provides a valuable case study in how refocusing a company on the importance of user experience can be at the heart of a business revitalisation strategy.
In developing Pre and webOS, Palm has been forced to take a long look in the mirror and ask itself some searching questions about what really defines the company. Interestingly, the answers it has come up with are very similar to the founding principles which helped it achieve success in the PDA market