Friday, July 17, 2009

How 30 Apps Could Have Been A Pre-Cursor To Success, Rather Than A Curse

There has been a lot of speculation as to whether or not the Palm Pre is a hit and selling up to expectations. If you read this blog and follow me on Twitter you have probably gleaned that I love my Pre and think it is a spectacular device. That said, I am enormously frustrated by the lack of any new applications since its launch more than a month ago. It seems that I am compelled to check the "beta" App Catalog multiple times a day on the odd chance that finally something new will miraculously appear. (In truth, I am wishing hard that the next new app to emerge will be the Amazon Kindle app - without Orwell's 1984, of course...)


At the beginning it seemed like things were on track. There were 18 apps in the catalog at launch, and within a matter of days it grew to 30 apps. Then, NOTHING. For weeks and weeks and weeks the app reservoir has been dry. Barren. APPallingly inactive. All things considered, if the Palm team were aware that the population was going to be limited only 30 apps for the foreseeable future, I think they would have been much better served by doling them out two or three a week until they were ready to open the app floodgates. Even if the total number of apps remained small I think the Pre would have maintained much more continuous momentum, and the related "buzz" and sales demand, if there had been a constant flow of new apps emerging in the catalog.


Yes, buzz and demand can be created by anticipation... to a point. However, after too long a wait I believe the risk is that anticipation unfulfilled leads to frustration, or even worse, boredom, and then ultimately a lack of interest. With constant competition from the iPhone, new Blackberries, and a new Android Hero, Palm should be doing everything in its power to maintain the excitement and momentum that a steady stocking of apps would bring.


What do you think? Is a slow steady rise more effective than a big quick launch followed by a flat line? How would you have handled the thin initial supply of apps if the Pre were your product? Have you had similar experiences or challenges with other product launches?

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