WAV Group has been following the story of Palm Inc, the makers of the most popular handset among real estate professionals. Palm raised private equity last year from a group led by U2 singer Bono in an effort to launch their competitor to the iPhone, Google Android, and the popular Blackberry devices that have taken significant market share away from the smartphone handset pioneer. If you are considering a mobile phone today and a new two year contract, choosing a Palm may be a mistake.
Palm rolled out its new Pre and Pixi phones in an attempt to regain lost ground, but announced today that the new smart phones aren’t selling well. Although orders from mobile service providers like Verizon were strong, consumers have been shy to embrace the new device. Indeed, Verizon recently launched “buy on, get one free.”
Today, the adoption of the GE Lockboxes has driven wide adoption of the Palm products as they are the only handset maker that offered an infrared interface to open the GE lockbox. This feature was so strong that it forced competitor Blackberry to work with GE to develop a piece of custom hardware that allows Blackberry owners to pair their handset with an infrared device to open the lockbox. Executives from GE and Blackberry did not comment on the success of this product, but have mentioned before that the solution works great.
GE has hung on to the IR functionality in their lock boxes despite criticism about the security of IR. Now that IR is facing obsolescence, this could cause GE to make a move to move in a new direction and possibly force millions of lockboxes to be replaced. This could be a strong opportunity for competitors to gain market share if a conversion is forced.