The iPhone’s Rise to Greatness, Palm’s Fall From Grace

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past two years you’ve undoubtedly heard of this iPhone thingy. Some computer company decides to make a phone. Mac fanboys everywhere have been speculating and drooling over the prospects of an Apple-created phone. Pundits everywhere dismissed the notion. Even after its release, it was met with great skepticism and criticism. 

The folks at MacDailyNews compiled a great list of quotes from various people that poo-pood on the notion of Apple creating a phone. These quotes of course come after the latest numbers reported by Apple showing that they are now the world’s third largest mobile phone supplier based on revenue and that the iPhone outsold the Blackberry last quarter. Not bad from a company that was once called “the beleaguered company” a number of years ago.

My favorite quote (probably based on my frustration with Palm as they keep fumbling the ball) is from Ed Colligan, CEO of Palm on November 16, 2006. He stated “We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” 

Really? Good job Ed. While you sat there and and did nothing with your OS, some “PC guys” came along and created one of the most popular phones in history. 

It’s this kind of thinking by executives that drives me crazy. What should be a great company falls by the wayside because of a great mixture of arrogance and ignorance. I love my Treo but damn…it’s like a clunky old brick compared to the iPhone. If not for Apple’s exclusive deal with AT&T and my great plan with Sprint I’m sure I’d be yet another iPhone owner amongst my friends and colleagues.

So how did Apple do it? I’m pretty sure the “cool factor” of owning an Apple device played a role in their sales. However, Apple is known for massive R&D, for finding what the users want, for making things simple to use. While Palm (and everyone else for that part) was sitting on their ass, Apple was working on features, ergonomics, design, ease-of-use…and look where we are now.

Let this be a lesson to all those companies that think they have a particular market or even a particular niche cornered. Anybody can come in and rain on your picnic. In these days and times it is a dangerous thing to rest on your laurels. There is always someone looking to put a better product out there and if you rest, you’ll fall behind faster than you can imagine.