You Can Do More
Palm is working hard to promote the Centro as a consumer oriented smartphone. Now they need to make sure that people upgrading from feature phones to the Centro know that it is easy to purchase and install third-party applications that can extend the utility of their phone.
I was talking to a friend of mine recently about the demographics of Apple iPhone and Palm Centro purchasers. We talked feature about phone users who might upgrade from a 12-key feature flip phone to a smartphone. Surely the iPhone is the current darling of the media. However, I don’t believe that brand awareness alone will drive sales. There are a few things that consumers consider before purchase a phone including: hardware costs, monthly subscription rates, features of the software, and whether or not the device is intended for work or entertainment.
It is the software and new customers that I would like to focus on. It is a long-standing fact that most people don’t install third-party software on their Palm smartphones. The last statistic that I recall reading said that about 33% of Palm owners do install third-party software. Let’s assume for a minute that the number is wrong and that 60% of customers install applications on their devices. That still leaves a whopping 40% of customers who are not realizing the full potential of their smartphones.
There are three things that I think that Palm can do to help raise consumer awareness of the vast software library available for the Centro smartphone. To raise awareness, Palm should focus on:
- In store displays
- Placing a card in the Centro box
- Leveraging of the MyPalm.com portal
The in store display should be a no brainer. On my last trips to a Sprint/Nextel and AT&T location, there where stand up posters and ads all over the inside of the store. I don’t recall seeing any of the Palm information cards make mention the large library of software that was available for the Centro, the Treo 755p, or the Treo 750. The first step in getting the full utility out of a new phone should start at the retail location. Customers should know right form the get go that there is even more that the Centro can do than what is printed on the side of the box.
What if the customer purchases the new phone online? That’s where the in box card comes into play. The first thing a new Centro owner should see when they open the box is a card that briefly talks about doing more with the phone. Palm should pick a few category-defining applications to feature on the insert. Palm might feature games from Astraware, personal utility applications from SplashData, and multimedia applications from NormSoft and CoreCodec. (I also think that Palm should highlight ringtones, ringtone managers, and wallpapers, however, I doubt that the cellular carriers will allow them to get away with doing so.) When you think about it, Palm probably only has a few seconds to impress upon their customers that you can install additional software on the Centro. It might make more sense to put the Getting Started fold out poster on top and a software sticker on the inside of the box lid. I’ll leave it to Palm’s marketing department to iron out the details.
The last thing that Palm can do to help new customers add third-party applications to the Centro is by leveraging the currently in beta, MyPalm.com customer portal. By signing up for the free Palm service, new customers will not only get access to 24x7 support for their smart device, they should also be able to browse all of the content from the Palm Software Connection application web store.
One of the advantages of the MyPalm.com portal is the ability to download and install software on the Centro (and the Treo also) wirelessly over the air (OTA). When a customer finds an application that they would like to try or buy, they can click a button to send the software down to their device. Today, the MyPalm.com portal sends a SMS message to your phone with a download link in the body. When you tap the link, the software is downloaded to the device and the installer runs automatically. Installing software from the MyPalm.com portal onto the Centro OTA is a much easier and clearer way to install software. No one reads manuals anymore and requiring customers to try and figure out how to install software via the HotSync process is too complex for new users to have to deal with. The web portal and OTA installer is the better way to go. I really think that Palm is working on a solution like this. If you haven’t already done so, you should read A Palm Desktop Makeover.
In conclusion, I think that Palm and third-party application software developers have an opportunity to maximize customer awareness that the Centro can do more than a 12-key feature flip phone. This will, in turn, drive more software sales. In store, in box, and online advertising efforts can be used to help drive customers to the MyPalm.com portal where a wealth of new applications await them.
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