GM and Ford can use Palm’s Simple Plan to Save Taxpayers $30 Billion
I saw all of the videos from CES of the new Palm "Pre" phone this week. I was pretty impressed, to say the least. I was discussing it as a challenger to the iPhone (don’t say killer) with a friend at work.
We both came to the same Earth-Shattering conclusion. (more on that later)
First, a little history on Palm Inc.
Palm completely owned the PDA market space to the point that they were as synonymous with PDA as Band-Aid (brand) was with adhesive bandages. Windows mobile made a better OS and HP made a better device and there went that market.
Then, they came out with the Treo and single handedly created the "Smart Phone" category. It did so many things, but had so many annoyances at the same time. Even after a few iterations they still have not ironed out the dings that make the Treo annoying. Along comes Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and Symbian and again, they’re an also-ran. These phone/OS combinations were tough enough competition, but then the iPhone comes out and destroys everyone.
GM and Ford could just read this simple five step plan:
So Palm has been scuffling around for the better part of a decade running a household name into the ground. They have not adapted or innovated their products in any way that keeps up with the pack. How many times have they been on the brink of death in the last few years alone?
What does Palm do in the face of this? Well they grab themselves a JesusPhone and a few of the Apostles that helped create it. Next they just break out the photocopier. They build something that appears to capture all of the splendor of the iPhone experience. That alone would have been a small miracle, but they didn’t stop there. They took a look at a few of the tiny knocks on the iPhone.
- Apple’s ridiculous closed platform (links to articles)
- Camera with no Flash or Video
- No physical keyboard
- Poor multitasking / task switching
- No copy and paste
They came up with reasonable solutions to these problems.
Let’s summarize that last bit:
"They hired away talent from the market leader and copied the good stuff, while improving some of the bad stuff."
Doesn’t this sound like common sense?
How does this relate to General Motors and Ford?
So here is the epiphany that my friend and I came to:
It’s very hard to create a masterpiece, but it’s not that difficult to rip one off. This is a perfect parallel to the problems with the U.S. Auto manufactures. They owned the world at one time and then were unseated by younger, more nimble, responsive competition. Toyota and Honda have been eating Ford and GM’s lunch for two decades now and these geniuses can’t get out of their own way. Here’s what the government should do:
Make the idiots that are murdering the U.S. auto industry fly coach to California and take a look at what Palm just did.
Or, GM and Ford could just read this simple five step plan:
- Buy a Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
- Pay a few designers from Toyota and Honda triple their current salaries to come to America.
- Make a shameless rip-off of each car.
- Sell lot’s of them.
- When another competitor starts stealing your market share, repeat as necessary.
How hard is this? I don’t need a $30 Billion plan to save these companies. People just want to buy stuff that doesn’t suck. If you can’t create a masterpiece, just steal one. People will buy it, I promise you!
Problem solved, what’s next?
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