MWC: Palm aims to raise brand awareness in the UK

MWC: Palm aims to raise brand awareness in the     UK

Palm admits it has some way to go to raise awareness of its brand among British consumers. Paul Ghent, VP EMEA Sales at Palm, told Mobile: 'Palm has brand legacy from the Palm Pilot days, but we are a small company, so for us it's all about starting again.

'We understand that it will take a bit of time to re-establish ourselves and we won't be able to do it that fast. Growing incrementally in this competitive market will be difficult against the big players out there - but we want to do that.'

Commenting on how Palm's exclusive deal with O2 was going, he said: 'We are happy so far and the numbers have been good. It has been a great learning curve for us and we think O2 is really strong in marketing smartphones. We have an open strategic relationship with O2, there is no end date to the exclusivity, if it works well, we will continue with it.

'There is a lot of work to do on the brand awareness side, both for us and O2 in the UK. We are investing in marketing the brand on TV, cinema, outdoors and below the line.

Asked whether Palm intended to raise brand awareness by widening distribution of its products beyond O2, Ghent said: 'We've only been with O2 for four months, so it's still early days. We are looking at broadening the distribution, but we are not ready to pull the trigger at this point.

'We are still extracting the learning, so we can train the trainers who then train the operators and retailers. You can have too many distribution channels and that can mean you lose the ability to monitor and control what is happening.'

Ghent said Palm is talking to other channels, such as Carphone Warehouse, but said at the moment the company was leaving things with its operator partner to range it through its distribution channels.

He added that there were a number of reasons for deciding on an exclusive deal with one operator. 'Until people get used to our Web OS they will need guidance. So we wanted an operator which was well established in selling smartphones - in the UK that was O2 with the iPhone - we wanted O2's help in educating retailers in how to sell the Palm Pre.

'The other reason for just choosing one operator is bandwidth. We are a small company, only 1,000 people, and we have to cover the USA, Europe and elsewhere. If we want to be regarded as a global player then we've got to find a way to balance our ambitions with our size at the moment.'

Although Palm's history has been on the enterprise side, Ghent is very clear that Palm wants both consumer and business customers.

'Our marketing message has not been around the business side but lifestyle - bringing information together and networking. We are not concentrating solely on business users or multimedia players - we have produced a phone for your whole life,' he said.

Palm has not yet pulled off BlackBerry's trick over crossing over into the consumer side. Ghent said: 'BlackBerry has got critical mass already and has every channel wrapped up. The best advocates of a device are its users, and BlackBerry already has many of those.'

He added that Palm is looking at the SOHO and SME type user and he thinks enterprise will follow, but some work needs to be done on the security issues first.

Palm is to launch two new products in Q2 with SFR in France, but there is no news yet as to when they will come to the UK.

The Palm Pre Plus (an upgraded version of the Palm Pre) is aimed at the high end of the market and is currently only with Verizon in the USA. The Palm Pixie is the other major handset waiting in the wings.

Ghent said: 'The Palm Pixie is the ideal phone for someone to move up from a feature phone to a smartphone. They get the simplicity of our Web OS user experience, full qwerty keyboard and touchscreen.'

The Pixie features Palm's over the air syncing software, Synergy, which links Google, Facebook and Microsoft Exchange contacts and streams them to the phone. The phone allows full multi-tasking and the universal search is impressively fast - faster than a PC, according to Ghent.

He pointed out that another differentiator for Palm are its over the air updates. 'You don't have to get a new phone, or go on line, we just push it out to our user base. They can be quite big updates too. For example, version 1.4, which is out at the end of February, will allow video capture. You can download the update and the video will be there; you can edit it from both ends and upload it straight to the web.'

Written by Mobile Today
Mobile Today

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