PalmOne CEO Stepping Down

PalmOne CEO Stepping Down

By: Christopher Meinck

palmOne CEO Todd Bradley is stepping down from the position effective at the
end of February, the handheld computing company announced Monday.

Bradley, a former Gateway executive who joined Palm in June 2001, will
step down Feb. 25 and serve as an adviser to the company through May.
PalmOne President Ed Colligan will take on the role of interim CEO
while the company conducts a search for a permanent head.

"Todd was an operations guy…PalmOne needs fresh leadership
with the right vision to lead PalmOne into the wireless future,"
Pablo Perez-Fernandez, a research analyst at Stanford Financial Group.
"Colligan is considered to be very knowledgeable about wireless."

Bradley joined Palm when it was struggling with a glut of
products and was credited with helping steady the company. However,
analysts said new leadership might be needed as the company
increasingly focuses on its Treo line of advanced cell phones.

For his part, Bradley said he had "accomplished what I set out to do."
"The company is on a growth path, our product portfolio is
exciting and competitive, and I have great confidence in the company’s
current and future prospects," Bradley said in a statement.

The company said Colligan will be a candidate for the permanent CEO spot.
Colligan, a former Handspring executive, was named head of the
wireless business when Palm and Handspring merged to form PalmOne. He
was named president last June.

Bradley’s move follows the announcement last week that the
company’s supply chain head, Angel Mendez, was leaving the company to
join Cisco Systems. Like Bradley, Mendez was a former Gateway
executive. He joined Palm the same month as Bradley.

Palm rose to success in the late 1990s with its Palm Pilot
organizer and several popular follow-up models. However, the company
struggled with a glut of excess products as the market for electronic
address book and calendar devices waned. At the same time, Palm
struggled in its efforts to create new types of devices with built-in
wireless abilities.

The company flopped with its i705 and Tungsten W models. In June
2003, Palm decided to buy rival Handspring, which was running low on
cash but had the more popular Treo line of devices that combined cell
phone and organizer abilities.

Since merging, the company has made some headway with the Treo
600 line, as well as with updates to its traditional organizer
products, including the Tungsten E and Zire 72 products. The company
has also strung together several profitable quarters over the past nine
months, after a prolonged period of losses.

However, the market for devices without wireless access has
remained stagnant, and the Palm operating system dipped behind
Microsoft’s Windows Mobile in terms of new products shipped for the
third quarter of last year.

As a result, Palm has been increasingly focused on its Treo line.
Although well-regarded, the products face increasing competition from
rival device makers such as Research In Motion and Hewlett-Packard, as
well as from traditional cell phone makers such as Samsung and Nokia.

The company started shipping its latest Treo, the 650, late last
year, but thus far, Sprint is the only U.S. carrier that is offering
the device. Cingular Wireless is expected to offer the 650 soon, while
several other carriers have been trying to push the older Treo 600
model at lower prices.

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