Palm Pre vs iphone: it helps to be a cool brand

Many people (well those who didn’t like Apple) were pinning their hopes on the Palm Pre offering a smartphone that would rival the iphone.
However, after a few short months, Palm have slashed the price in the US and there are rumours (depending on who you believe) that their are lay-offs at Palm.

The reviews certainly gave the palm a glowing report. However it has failed to ignite the public’s imagination. This is a similar echo to that of the ipod … there were (arguably) better music players out there, but the ipod became ubiquitous due to a combination of styling and user interface.

And that’s the point. What counts as better? Having used (and lost) the Google Phone (G1), it has better functionality than the iphone in many ways. But, it’s user interface doesn’t look as nice, and the handset itself looks kind of cheap. Apple have always known how to style their products, and user interface has always been their forte.

When it comes to phones, there’s no doubt that style and form win out over pure functionality or power. You only have to look at the best selling phone in 2005, the Motorola Razar. It’s usability was terrible (try downloading and adding a ring tone), but people loved it because it was slim and came in hot pink.

The reason is simple. Phones are also about identity. They are as much (if not more) of a statement about ourselves than the clothes we wear or the car we drive. And Apple and the iphone is a cool brand. So, maybe their competitors should spend less time on the technology and focus on becoming a cool brand.

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