Interview with Greg Shirai about Windows Mobile Treo
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Right after the Bill Gates, Ed Colligan, Denny Strigl press conference yesterday, we were able to grab a short impromptu interview with Greg Shirai, Director of Product Marketing for Palm. Read the transcript below.
Michael Ducker: Do you think that, from an engineering standpoint, you are going to try to differentiate the Windows Treo in terms of functionality from the Palm Treo? For example, maybe the Windows Treo is great for multimedia and the Palm Treo great for PIM.
Greg Shirai: I think what Ed [Colligan] said is absolutely accurate. We have two great platforms, and you want to find the best out of those platforms to make the best possible product. I think that Windows media player is an awesome product, that today you can go and use Tivo-To-Go, take advantage of drm that's already built in. And if that's an area that makes that product shine, then that's great. Palm OS as we know today does a ton of things really great. And I think that all we're doing is what we heard from our customers, whether their operators enterprise, carriers, end users, that some users prefer windows mobile and some people prefer palm os, and if we can provide a great experience on both, than we feel that we're just going to open it up.
Marcus Adolfsson: What was the emotional feeling that after being so associated with Palm OS and the dialing interface, now working on the same thing on the Microsoft Windows system:
Greg Shirai: We've been at it for several years now, so at first, it was a little weird. All these years being so focused on Palm operating system, in some ways it was like learning a new language, and starting over again, but on the flip side, I think it was equally exciting that we had something new that we could shape and create. Our general feeling when we got into this relationship was that there was this huge potential and opportunity. That there wasn't that much being done on Windows Mobile, that most of the differentiation was being done on hardware, and if we could create great software and come along, that's the thing that was going to stand out
Michael Ducker: Palm has written much of it's own software to power the Treo, now that you're licensing Windows Mobile, is Palm still a software company?
Greg Shirai: On a higher level, most people still think we're a hardware company - because that's what you see when you buy. I think that we have historically been about great hardware to software integration, and so that after you start with the base platform, you build differentiators on top of that and you have to have great hardware that's super compelling and that's small enough. You spend so much time on the keyboard, getting that stuff in there. Ultimately it's getting that combination that people want to buy, it's the product, it's not necessarily hardware or software, it's how it all comes together.
Marcus Adolfsson: How much better do you feel, or how different, do you feel that that user interface level on the phone dialer, chat, email integration on this device is vs. the current Treo 650?
Greg Shirai: I'm not going to comment on a lot of the specifics, but what we tried to do is not take the main user interface in the Treo and plunk it onto the Treo Windows Mobile. That would be the wrong approach. We said, look, you have to work in the context of the today view. You have to do plugins. What's critical to the whole experience is the ability to immediately dial somebody's number, for example, R space H A, to look up somebody. That's not available today in Windows Mobile, and we showed today that we can do that. We integrated a lot more in terms of "press and hold" to get alternate contact information. Those are some of the differentiators that we are bringing to the platform
Michael Ducker: Did you have to push hard to implement five-way in Windows Mobile 5?
Greg Shirai: Windows Mobile has a fair degree of five-way integration built into the device. But as you know five-way has been a trademark of Treo, and what we said [to Microsoft], is that we absolutely have to have flexibility to make some changes, or additions. That was a whole area that we talked about with them.
Michael Ducker and Marcus Adolfsson: Thank you very much for your time.