Friday, June 5, 2009
The Dao of Strategic Assessment (23): Time to Plan and Act
"In planning, no useless move, In strategy, no step is in vain."- Chen Hao
Delineating the end in mind is the first step to building a complete top down strategy.
After reading the following story, what is the grand goal of Sprint's and Palm?
Sprint's Palm Pre 'War Room'
Elizabeth Woyke, 05.29.09, 6:00 PM ET
Sprint is approaching its June 6 launch of the Palm Pre with military strategy.
The introduction of the hotly anticipated handset will be Sprint's biggest product event of the year. As interest in the phone escalates to a frenzy--in part because of rumored shortages--company representatives say Sprint is prepared for the onslaught.
Extra employees will be on hand to manage crowds, says David Owens, Sprint's director of devices. Sprint is also borrowing manpower from partner Palm, which will dispatch representatives to more than 100 Sprint stores across the country. The additional help will stick around for two months, Owens says.
Both companies are also establishing "situation rooms" to quickly address problems that might arise during launch, particularly tech support issues. If store representatives don't know the answer to a question, they can consult people in the "war rooms" via live chat.
The preparations rival those AT&T took when it released the iPhone. In the days prior to the iPhone 3G's debut last July, AT&T staffed up, created an informational Web site and streamlined its user registration process. (See AT&T Is iPhone Ready.)
Sprint says a successful launch centers on three factors: a great store experience, solid network and worry-free service plans.
Pre buyers will get one-on-one consultations with Sprint salespeople as part of the company's "Ready Now" program. First introduced last fall, it is designed so people can walk out of the store with their phones set up and knowledgeable about their features.
Consumers can choose from several service plans as long as they include Sprint's "Everything Data" package. The cheapest individual plan, with 450 "anytime minutes," will cost $69.99 a month. Those who want an unlimited number of voice minutes will have to pay $99.99 a month. There are also a few plans that specifically target families and businesses.
Sprint says its prices undercut comparable personal digital assistant (PDA) plans from Verizon Wireless and AT&T. The plans are one way the carrier aims to win over consumers who balk at the Pre's $199.99 price tag. "You have to look at the total cost of ownership over the two years, not just the device cost," Owens says.
[ Preparation precedes performance. Good planning always sets the pace for preparation. ]
Preparedness, however, doesn't always translate into success. The iPhone 3G launch frustrated many when an unexpected technical glitch forced Apple and AT&T employees to send would-be customers home empty-handed. Fans of the Pre are already wary because Palm and Sprint have said they may not have enough phones to satisfy customer demand, initially.
While Sprint shoulders the Pre's launch, AT&T and Verizon have been cozying up to Palm. Executives from both companies announced this week that they plan to offer the Pre next year, after Sprint's exclusivity period expires.
Full disclosure: Elevation Partners, which holds a 25% stake in Palm, is also a shareholder in our parent company, Forbes Media.