Jeff Kirvin, who formerly ran the “Writing on Your Palm” blog for which I wrote before I joined TeleRead, has posted an editorial comparing Apple’s current position with the iPhone to the history of Palm back in the ‘90s.

He makes some pretty good points. It’s not just that the iPhone is the most popular PDA-style platform on the market now the way the Palm was back then. There’s also the fact that the next-generation iPhone (as verified, apparently, by Gizmodo) is doubling its screen resolution while keeping the same dimensions just as Palm did back in the day, and he also draws a parallel between the OS 4.0 method of multitasking and the one used in the unreleased “Cobalt” Palm operating system.

Interesting stuff. Looks like Apple learned from the lessons of history, and is thus repeating it. Now if only they can avoid repeating the part that brought Palm to the dire straits in which it finds itself today…


  1. As long as you only focus on Apple’s mobile devices this might be a working analogy. You might get more mileage out of Blackberry comparisons though.

    The problem is Palm never diversified beyond handhelds or ever had laptops or desktops or the investment and backing and experience with all the other products Apple has successfully brought to market and brings to their mobile platforms.

    Palm slowly faded out because they were slow to evolve and never took huge risks beyond their initial development of their handheld and the locked down environment they maintained and I believe that is where there is a huge difference between the companies.

  2. Palm also lost out because the parent company that bought Palm simply had no vision, didn’t know what to do with Palm, and were, in a word, terrible.

    Microsoft copied the Palm Pilot with its WinCE devices, that were slower, required faster processors, more memory, and were costlier — but would do more. Faced with this challenge, Palm could have remained simple and fast (and driven their product prices even lower) or tried to beat MSFT at their own game. This latter is a losing strategy, and Palm’s managers tried it and lost.

    But I’d say that the real Palm killer was the rise of the smartphone. Or what was called the smartphone back 10 years ago.

    I don’t think this Palm-Apple analogy runs very far.

    — asotir

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