Can fan-driven ad campaign spark Palm webOS phone sales?

Palm's sales for all its webOS phones have been very disappointing

The team of Palm enthusiasts at webOSroundup.com has launched a crowd-sourcing project that invites other Palmophiles to create their own video ads for Palm's innovative operating system and the phones that run it. 

Almost anything would be an improvement over the official ad campaign, which has been heavily criticized (including by me)  right from the initial launch of the Palm Pre in June 2009. A new ad launched a couple of months later by Palm's agency, Modernista!, didn't fare any better.

Palm's sales for all its webOS phones have been very disappointing. Currently, the company is shipping more phones to its carriers than the carriers are actually selling. Speculation has been swirling that the company is on a downward path toward folding or to being acquired.

Palm earlier this year announced the latest editions to its phone line: the Palm Pre Plus and the Pixi Plus. Developers working with webOS have high praise for its simplicity, ease of application development (mainly with Palm's toolkit and HTML, JavaScript, and Cascading Style Sheets), and multi-tasking.

The webOSroundup Web site launched what it calls the PalmSpot contest with a March 17 blog post by founder and Eeditor-in-Chief David Baxter, who also runs a small Web development company.

"We call this contest PalmSpot and with it you get the chance to show the world how amazing webOS truly is in your own video," he wrote. "What is even more exciting is that Palm is helping us out to take this contest to a whole new level."

Budding creative directors create a video ad of 30 to120 seconds, eschewing vulgar language and offensive content, and not ripping off other copyrighted material.

There are three categories of ads -- funniest, most original, and best use of webOS -- with prizes for the winners and two runners-up in each category. Entries will be accepted until Friday, April 16, and then posted on the the webOSroundup YouTube page. The finalists will be chosen by the number of YouTube views, and then be reviewed by a final judging panel, with winners announced in May.

As of this writing, there are four submissions. They range from a simple, static, video walk-through of webOS features on a Palm Pre, submitted by Joe H., to a similar demonstration with a soundtrack and motion added, by IcerC, to dramatic, impressively complex video that rivals the sophisticated advertising on broadcast networks, by Heiko Thies.

Writing for Engadget, Vladislav Savov says Thies' video "manages to achieve -- in a mere 30 seconds -- what Palm has been struggling with for nearly a year. It shows off the handsome device, the effortless multitasking, the variety of apps, integrated services and video capabilities, and, most importantly, emphasizes the sheer beauty and ease of use of WebOS."

Follow John Cox on Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

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John Cox

Network World
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