Palm Hosts Investor Day

Palm Hosts Investor Day

Provide Glimpse Into Future Products

April 10, 2007

By: Christopher Meinck

For the past few months, Palm has seen increased competition from the likes of Apple, Motorola and Samsung. Along with an increasingly competitive smartphone market, the company has also been the subject of takeover rumors with Motorola and Nokia being the potential suitors. Palm hosted an Investors Day to provide investors and members of the media with an overview of their smartphone business. While Palm refused to offer a roadmap of future products, executives from the company offered a glimpse into the future of Palm Treo products.


Palm OS Transition To Linux Due This Year

The long awaited transition to Linux will occur this year. According to Palm CEO Ed Colligan, Palm will release Treo smartphones running the new OS by the end of the year. Changes on the software side include a transition to the Opera web browser, signaling an end to Blazer. Other improvements will see the integration recently acquired Chatteremail, the popular third-party email client. Colligan affirmed their commitment to the Palm OS community. Palm’s licensing of the Garnet allows them to make improvements on the OS, which become the property of Palm. The new Linux based Palm Treo smartphones are tentatively scheduled to be released before the end of the year and Palm will release Palm Treo smartphones running the existing Palm OS in the short term.

Palm Linux OS
Expect Linux based devices in 2007

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Scalable Hardware Platform

Palm has been developing a hardware platform that will reduce the time it takes to bring a new Treo smartphone to market. Their goal is to create a reusable, customizable and scalable platform. Software being one of the key platform elements, allowing Palm to use an existing hardware design for both Windows and Garnet (Palm OS) based Treo smartphones. Palm expects faster time to market for product derivatives. When questioned about the stagnant movement in the form factor of the existing product line, Colligan responded, "Our focus has been on winning design and we’ll continue to do that. The current design features robust data entry capabilities, a big screen and battery life that lasts a full day."

Palm reference platform
Reference design will help bring smartphones to market faster

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Customer Focus

One of the main underlying themes of Palm’s strategy is to continue to focus on their customers. Not exactly a unique concept, but they sounded very convincing when discussing their dedication to their customers. Their vision is to create "the most simple mobile computing solution in the world". Furthermore, they spoke about "a complete mobile experience" and building a strong customer relationship through the extension of programs like the Bulter program, a white glove service to help guide customers through those first critical moments of product setup.

Response to iPhone

During the Q&A, the inevitable questions came up concerning the iPhone as a new competitor to the Palm Treo. Colligan responded, "It is unclear how it will perform as a phone. We are taking it as a serious threat, but will evaluate it when it comes out".
Brodie Keast, Palm’s senior vice president of marketing, said the iPhone would not be as compelling to the business customer who buys Treos, and suggested the iPhone would be "primarily an entertainment device" and "a wide-screen iPod." Keast then went on to say,"We are going to focus on these simple web experiences while they focus on entertainment."


Future Products and Technologies

Palm did not offer any specific insight to the product roadmap outside of the announcement of Linux based smartphones that are due in Q4 of 2007. Despite being coy regarding new Treo products, they did offer interesting soundbites regarding their focus in the coming months.

  • Expect new designs with a completely different focus on different segments. "How do we get feature phone users to upgrade?
  • Bring enterprise experience to small businesses that do not have IT departments.
  • Simple web apps that are optimized for mobile experience rather than doing web.
  • Regarding WiFi, Palm spoke of "coming out with more compelling ways than people have done in the past "
  • Palm’s investor day also featured discussion revolving carrier penetration, growth strategy and increasing investor returns. The smartphone market continues to grow (growing to $36 billion by 2009) and Palm has seen an increase in year-over-year sell through of Treo smartphones. Palm CEO commented, "We think there is a big wave coming in this whole mobile computing revolution, which is becoming a bigger part of the overall mobile phone business. We have an enormous opportunity going forward."

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