Friday, February 01, 2008

Garmin's nuvifone Is Another Palm Failure

Once again a new PDD (Personal Digital Device) exposes Palm's failure to capitalize on their early success with both PDA and converged devices(Treo). Garmin's entry into the converged PDD market and turning their back on the Palm OS, has the potential to be an even greater blow to Palm than the iPhone.

The combination of phone, GPS and PDA functionality is something Treo users like myself have been impatiently waiting for this same combination to be delivered by Palm for years. This despite repeated pleas and 3rd party evidence of the potential. Palm's decision to enter into agreements with cellular vendors, that hold them hostage from providing Wifi on Treo devices was a deal with the Devil and a fatal strategic error. All this to keep some ingenious person from porting a Skype, Vonage or other VOIP client, thereby denying the cell phone companies their extortionate annuity.

Although Garmin's nuvifone has the potential to be a formidable rival to both the Treo line and iPhone, it faces the uphill challenge of being based on Garmin's own operating system. Palm's latest Centro model, along with the iPhone are huge hits.

Although most Centro owners don't know it, they have access to thousands of available Palm applications. iPhone users, though victimized by Apple's restrictions on carriers are, like Apple's desktop users, zealously spreading the iPhone gospel and happily hacking their way to carrier independence.

If the nuvifone is released as an unlocked GSM platform with an open development platform, it will likely be one of, if not the final nail in Palm's coffin and a huge obstacle to the iPhone's future success.