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peter

Should HP have killed off the Palm brand?

It appears from yesterday's webOS event that HP has decided to discontinue using Palm as a brand, and I wonder, was this a good move? Is there still some value in Palm as a brand? Or have the past few years of decline meant that it just didn't mean enough to the average person to bother keeping? There was a point when Palm dominated the world of handheld computing, and back then it'd be almost unimaginable that someone would buy Palm and then ditch the name. (It's also why it seemed so dumb to me when they split the company into palmOne and PalmSource a few years ago, only to have palmOne go to great lengths to secure control of the Palm brand back from PalmSource).

Curious to hear what everyone thinks.

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30 replies
ryan

Personally I would say no, but not out of sentimentality for the brand. Granted, Palm has infinitely more cachet than HP in the portables space, but ultimately I think the Palm brand is a powerful signal to customers that this is a product for you, not your CIO. During the launch presentation, they positioned the Pre 3 as an enterprise class device, and if that's really how they're starting to view things, I think they're going to miss the mark in a big way.
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derred

Pretty much everyone will say they should have kept the Palm name alive, whether from personal attachment to the brand or from simply seeing the worth of using such a powerful name in the mobile industry.
There's a reason why keeping the acquired companies name is the norm for big fish like Palm. When Dell bought Alienware they didn't just drop the brand and HP made the same choice with Voodoo PC.
Why they decided to go this particular route with Palm is anybody's guess, but I think it's part of their overall plan to expand WebOS to other device categories (ie laptops). It's a way to avoid the customer confusion and brand dilution of coming out with a netbook that would be called something like the "HP Palm Compaq Presario WebOS Mini 10".
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srmccoy

How powerful is Palm as a brand, though? How many Palm devices do you see in the wild, or on store shelves? Palm has not been a solid brand in years. They were an also ran with the first run of WebOS devices. Most people did not buy them, and those that did were given a great OS on mediocre hardware that resulted in a lackluster experience overall.
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ArmpitOfDeath

What srmccoy says. I would venture that for the specific people who HP wants to have relevance with, the Palm name has no value. At best, for them it would conjure up the Treo (and let's face it, a sizeable number of them were WM) that they realised was so last century after moving onto the iPhone.

Many older farts may remember Palm fondly (me specifically not so much, as I didn't like them that much before Sony's Clie's added ultimate functionality), but that is irrelevant at this point.
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Falcon

HP is giving a bit of a mixed message. On one hand you have them mention early on that they want to target the enterprise market. On the other hand, you have their CEO mention recently they want to be cool like Apple to the consumer. It seems like they are trying to balance the line like RIM is currently, which is a really dangerous thing to try with a limited set of devices and form factors.

I believe that one of the reasons they didn't release a touchscreen only device is that HP wants to be seen as the new business device in place of RIM. My hunch is that HP is attempting to target RIM users that love keyboards as well as other users with the mindset that any device without a keyboard is not a business device.

HP has a better business brand built around it, which is why they are sun-setting the Palm name. However, Palm has a much more recognizable name in the mobile space as well as presenting a much less 'giant corporate black plastic' feel to consumers. Personally, I would have kept the Palm name alive in some sense, but we'll see how it works out.
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theattack

Yeah that bothered me also. I've been using a Sprint Pre since day 1 and I know you can use it for work and all, but nothing about it screams Enterprise Class to me. Not sure Ruby is in charge of these decisions anymore.
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AckbarsFist

As an old Palm fanboy, I'm of course pretty sad to see the brand go, but I'm also heartened by the strong efforts that HP seem to be making with webOS. I do find it very interesting that HP are still utlising palm.com for the new products, even though there isn't a Palm logo to be found on the devices.
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conorobyrne

I know personally the Palm brand would be preferable to the HP brand. But that's me, as someone who follows Palm and has always appreciated their creativity and innovation. I'm still pulling for them, despite their missteps. Thinking of these as HP products, just brings to mind hours spent struggling with generic, mid-level, janky desktop PCs at work.
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blackmannx

I think they are minimizing the Palm brand due to the damage done in recent years by the lackluster hardware they have been coming to market with. Perhaps when they are ready to really start promoting and they generate a positive buzz then we will see the palm brand "relaunched"
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groovechicken

Personally, I think HP desperately wants to be the next Apple, and this is necessary if they want the HP brand to get that kind of mindshare. Unfortunately, they seem to be copying the Apple of the 90s rather than the Apple of today. We already know where that trajectory will go if they persist.
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marcus

Even though the Palm brand seems pretty much gone, it's rather strange that the Pre, Veer and Touch Pad infopages are hosted at palm.com, even HP sends you over there if you you click for more info.

Just a thing I noticed =)
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mrk

There is a clear reason HP removed the brand. webOS is not about mobile devices anymore - it is HP's OS. Printers, computers, tablets and phones. All running webOS.

This is the equivalent of when Apple picked up NeXT.
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Oldmanwoerle

"This is the equivalent of when Apple picked NeXT"

Wasn't Next the failed Educator focused computer project that Stevie J tried to start after leaving Apple? I don't think I would consider those being equivalent. Especially since it never actually got off the ground.
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mrk

You realize that OS X and iOS are both completely based on NeXT Technology. COMPLETELY.
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ArmpitOfDeath

Indeed. Not sure about iOS since it's twice removed, but OS X cetainly.

And of course it goes a long way to explaining why I feel like I've stepped back 20 years every time I need to do something slightly out of the ordinary with OS X. Tapping commands in Terminal may be cool and leet to some as they didn't do it day in, day out for years, but isn't cool to me when other OS's are instrumented and GUI'd at lower levels and I only have to get my CLI on when I *really* need full control.
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ArmpitOfDeath

Well, to the giant of a flim-flam man's credit, he even suckered me into buying double digits of the machines for the outfit I was with at the time.

In hindsight, I think Berners-Lee created the WWW on a Next not because, but in spite of using one...
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srmccoy

I think the Palm brand, as beloved as it is by some, is tainted. Most people I know recognize Palm in terms of their PDA's from years back, and truthfully Palm hasn't been relevant in the mobile space in years. HP, on the other hand, is still a pretty strong brand in computing. Most everyone I know has something in their homes with the HP logo on it, whether it's a laptop, printer, or something else. These people have chosen HP products for their needs at some point in the past, so it's likely they will at least consider the new devices based on this branding in the future. I know only one person that owns a somewhat current Palm device (Pre).
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conorobyrne

But does anyone actually like their HP products? Do they enjoy using them, or do they buy them because they're economical?
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srmccoy

HP isn't the most economical option out there. They're usually affordable devices, sure, but there are other brands out there that can bring lower prices. Most of the people that I know that own HP computers tend to really like them. They may not stand out the same way Apple does, but they're solid machines, and some are even kinda stylish in their own way.

I personally don't own any HP devices save for a printer, but I wouldn't ever rule them out when shopping for a new device. The name is solid and reputable, even if they're a bit boring.
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ArmpitOfDeath

My Z800's are economical. My 8740w's are economical. My Proliants are economical. And as a result I like them.

They're more economical than less versatile, less reliable, less supported equivalent gear which I have to buy due to an OS X co-dependency.

Economical doesn't necessarily mean 'cheapest' or 'cheaper'.

My Envy 14 runs a superior OS more dependably than the other laptop it definitely resembles, even while it's used for totally frivolous matters in comparison to my other HP's.

I guess I like HP.
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AckbarsFist

I like my HP display. Actually HP's displays seem to have quite a few features and be of very good quality for the money.
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martymankins

Other than printers from the late 90's to the early 2000's, Proliant servers (which they inherited from their merger with Compaq) and my beloved decades old 12C, Most HP products I have used are no more better or worse than other PC makers. They are no Apple as far as quality goes (consumerly speaking) and there's nothing grand or incredible in how they work.

The Palm brand needs to be around, IMO, and it needs some attention to detail. The TouchPad and Pre 3 look like that kind of detail, at least from what I saw in the photos and presentation, as well as the hands-on reports.
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Oldmanwoerle

As someone who plays in both the MAC and PC worlds, MAC does not have superior quality. If anything, as I have done price comparisons on Apples line of computers, I find that I pay more for less. That is why as I consider my next purchase I will probably go with PC, and if I decide I want a MAC OS, then I will build myself a Hackintosh. Half the price for the same amount of power.
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georgemag

The Mac vs PC debate is over. Its a matter of personal preference and choice. Crysis is the only dealbreaker with Mac. People that buy Mac's don't care about price its a premium item.
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ArmpitOfDeath

Apparently they do care about price - Since actually premium Windows machines seem to elude their radar as 'too expensive'.

That, and most people who say that tend to be broke bloggers and students who have been able to amass enough credit card debt for one, and get some sort of holier-than-thou feel about it over their budget Windows-machine peers.

I do care about price - long phone conversations squeezing the best deal is a stock in trade - but am probably in a different league to most in terms of what else I care about, and in this case the Apple hardware is actually the bottom of the heap in terms of what I use. It is actually the cheapest these days in almost any category I operate in, but I do definitely feel I get what I pay for.

It's more about thinking with the eyes - and a need for OS X of course.
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martymankins

I guess I've had a string of bad PCs. I've seen 10 times the amount of brand name and home built PCs that have died much sooner deaths over the 25 years I've been in the IT world. Much better luck for me on the Mac side.

As for Palm devices, almost all of my previous models have been very rock solid.
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sha

The dismissal of the Palm brand, combined with the delay for new hardware and the shafting of pre and pixi owners has killed all of my hopes for the HP/Palm merger.
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martymankins

As a long time Palm user (since 1996) and a current Palm Pre user, I personally see how HP was conflicted, but in the end, killing off the name Palm on their future products was not a smart decision.

Even with all of the back and forth the last couple of years with Palm moving into a new direction and making a few stumbles with the launch (not a total mess, but not a complete smooth transition either), I think keeping the Palm name and familiar branding would have been smarter.

Even for many fans and users of the Palm line of products over the years, they expect simple, easy to use and solid products. Removing the Palm brand and making everything HP (except for the palm.com web site, which still has a Palm look and feel to it) won't do anything to help with the product issues that people have experienced. If HP really wants to try and move forward, they have a different set of challenges now that they've ditched the Palm brand, hoping people were not already carrying any HP negativity with them on these new product updates.
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georgemag

Palm has huge name recognition with men 40 to 50 who are now in decision making potions that had Palms back in the 90's when they we younger and in the know.
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Funderful

I can see how they made the decision to drop 'Palm'. They're not going to stop being 'HP', obviously, and the devices (whether those devices are phones, tablets, notebooks or printers) run 'WebOS'. Since they're using the OS on so many different devices they have to keep the individual device names like 'Pre' or 'Pixi' and what have you.

But would you want to launch a new product and call it the HP Palm Pre 3 running WebOS? Windows Phone 7 Series rolls more easily off the tongue. It becomes clear that something has to give. I personally love 'Palm' as a name, especially for a line of mobile devices albeit less so for the printer line, but I would concede that it makes sense to drop it.

I just wish they'd rename 'WebOS', because despite being appropriately named it is not a very catchy name.
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