Years Later the Palm Pilot is Still Strong

by Reads (6,071)

PalmOne, soon to be Palm, abandoned the Palm Pilot brand name for their PDAs years ago. But just like Kleenex, the product came to be known as the brand name. It’s a marketer’s dream, but can be a little confusing down the road if the manufacturer goes another direction, like Palm has with their PDA line. The Palm Pilots of yesterday now go by Zire, Tungsten, Treo and LifeDrive. So, how do we get people to stop calling PDAs Palm Pilots or should we even care?


I was coming back from New York recently and the flight attendant was going through her spiel on safety and such. As we all know, handheld electronics may down the airplane during takeoff, so it’s important that we turn off every battery powered device short of a pacemaker. As she ran through the list of what to turn off, she mentioned PDAs and Palm Pilots, as if they were two different things.


This is the perfect example of great marketing gone bad. PDAs all get lumped in under the term Palm Pilot by those who aren’t close to the market or only use a PDA trivially. HP, Dell and others must have hefty optometrist bills from rolling their eyes back every time they hear something like this. After all, how exactly do you get out of the Palm marketing shadow when people refer to your $700 iPAQ as a Palm Pilot?


Palm should have never completely left the name. The brand equity was tremendous. Ask any Joe on the street and they’ll know what a Palm Pilot is, but very few know a PDA and couldn’t tell you what the acronym stands for if you spotted them Personal and Digital. Palm has surely lost some measurable part of their market share because the Palm Pilot stopped existing.


I’m not suggesting Palm cut ties with their new product names, but perhaps the entry-level Zire would do better with Palm Pilot in the name. Doesn’t a $99 Palm Pilot 31 sound appealing? It does to me and I bet the moms running the family schedule would have an easier time with it than saying they own a, “Personal digital assistant from PalmOne called the Zire 31. And no, I don’t know why they don’t call it a Palm Pilot any longer.”



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