If Only Sprint and Palm Could Get Their Sh*t Together

A few months ago I was turned onto the Sprint SERO plan. 500 anytime minutes, nights and weekends start at 7:oo (instead of the usual 9:00 for Verizon and others), unlimited data (yes…unlimited), unlimited text messages (at least they had that when I signed up)…all for a mere $30. I was spending much more than that with Verizon for less minutes, data cost extra, text messages cost extra, nights started later. I did the math and it was actually cheaper for me to pay the penalty for breaking my contract with Verizon and switch to Sprint than it was to stick with Verizon for the duration of my contract.

Because of the unlimited data I figured I might as well take advantage of such goodness so I got a Palm Treo. I’ve usually been a minimalist when it comes to phones. I just wanted something small and simple that I could shove in my pocket and make calls with when needed. I really had no expectations of the Treo…it was just something that was coming with my super duper money saving plan.

I LOVE my phone and my plan. I’m writing this post right now thanks to the plan and phone…I moved recently and still don’t have the Internet hooked up at the house so I have my Treo tethered to my PowerBook and am using it as a modem. It’s not as fast as cable or DSL, but it’s pretty damn spiffy. Sprint really does have a fast network and you can see it when browsing the web from your phone or doing as I am right now and surfing with my Treo modem.

I’m enjoying the usual pre-installed apps and features of the phone such as the date book, contacts, Google Maps, built-in email (I’m checking a Mindspring account, .Mac account, and a few GMail accounts), and camera/videocamera. I’ve got a few nifty little apps installed on the Treo… I can FTP with the phone and with another app I can VPN into my home computers and perform duties remotely (granted, it’s a bit clunky with that tiny screen on the Treo, but in a bind it can come in handy). I’ve got Orb installed on my HTPC which allows me to watch either live TV (yet another thing Verizon wants you to pay for…with limited channel selection) or things I’ve recorded. Who knew I’d become such a Palm lover?

Alas…here is the problem. I think the management at Palm is a bunch of idiots. They had the whole PDA market cornered back in the day. Wow did they let that slide. There are hordes of Palm faithful out there (I recently discovered Palm fans are almost as fanatical about the Palm platform as Mac owners are about their computers) but I feel they are sticking with a sinking ship. Palm took their programming resources to work on some silly gadget called the Foleo rather than updating the Palm OS and staying ahead of the competition. Because of this blunder we’ve got RIM’s Blackberry becoming the de facto standard in the enterprise. Then you’ve got the iPhone which is already taking the world by storm even with its exclusive deals with a single carrier in each country. C’mon Palm…get off your rumps and regain that lead.

And then there’s Sprint…sheesh. A blazingly fast network. Great service plans. Yet…who wants to join? AT&T has the iPhone. Verizon has a number of nifty little phones. Sprint’s phones? Well…not that exciting. Sprint also dropped the ball with the Nextel acquisition. Yet another cult following (to be honest, I found those little chirping phones/handsets/walkie-talkies/whatever rather annoying) that they let go as they had problems integrating that network into their own.

It’s painful to watch a company with so much promise flounder. The Palm OS really is pretty damn cool…but it’s old. Sprint has some great plans, but who wants a plain old phone? It’s all about aesthetics these days. Why do you think Apple spends so much on R&D for simple and elegant design? I’m curious to see if Palm will be able to get a new OS out there that makes people think twice about their next smart phone and if Sprint can stop the masses from leaving and also attract new customers with some fresh ideas.