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More on the recent webcast

Wed Oct 3, 2007 - 12:39 AM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell


I didn't get a chance to listen to the live webcast the other day and have been a little under the weather.

But.... I did have a chance today to listen to the recording of the webcast and I took some notes. Ed Colligan talked about the two newest Palm smartphones, the Treo 500v and the Palm Centro. After talking about the newest additions, Colligan stated:

We now have one of the most robust product lines in the smartphone market. The Treo 750 and the Treo 700wx which provide 3G performance and enterprise class email for our topend business customers. The Treo 755p for email-focused small and medium businesses. The Treo 700wx for the same customers that also desire a Windows Mobile experience. The Treo 680 and the Treo 500v for prosumers and now the Palm Centro which should bring a whole new set of traditional cellphone customers to the Palm brand.

Colligan referred to the Palm Centro as "the highest quality Palm smartphone solution we have ever produced".

Colligan said that in going forward, Palm is focused on two major development areas and go to market initiatives, and that Palm has stuctured its teams and their efforts to pursue each opportunity most effectively. Colligan said that Palm first intends to deliver the best and most highly integrated solutions for their traditional prosumer and small and medium business customers in order to help them more effectively manage thier business and personal lives. Palm will continue to concentrate their development effort on bringing Palm solutions to the customers.

Colligan said that the Palm systems team, which just delivered the Palm Centro, is now totally focused on delivering their next generation platform which they expect to be available by the end of the next calendar year.

Part of that focus is making sure we do not lose the incredible ease of use and developer support we have had for more than a decade with the Palm OS. Our customers are our most important asset, and we want to be sure their transition to our next generation system, which will extend Palm's rich heritage of innovation, is seamless.

Palm's second major focus is the business to business email market in close partnership with Microsoft. Colligan said that Palm believes that the days for a CIO (Chief Information Officer) feeling the need to install a 3rd party server to deliver secure and reliable email are quickly coming to an end. He went on to say that today, if your organization has installed Exchange 2003 with Service Pack 2 or Exchange 2007, you can receive secure, behind the firewall push email without 3rd party server software directly to any Palm device, either Palm OS or Windows Mobile based, right out of the box.

Colligan said that Palm would continue to partner with Microsoft to improve those solutions and to market and sell the ease of setup and lower total cost of ownership.

In partnership with our expanded ODM relationships, we can deliver compelling, high value solutions like the Treo 500v and we will do this at a rapid clip, leveraging the Palm brand, design skills and software differentiation to stand out in the Windows Mobile world.

In regard to the recapitalization, Colligan said that Palm received fantastic support from thier shareholders for their plans with close to 100% of those voting, voting "Yes". Palm expects to close the Elevation Partners transaction before the end of October. Colligan stated:

Be assured, we have already moved into full gear, enhancing our team, strengthening our ability to grow and are totally focused on delivering great, long term shareholder value.

He then went on to say that he was more confident than ever that Palm is on the right track and that shareholders, employees, and loyal customers of Palm will be greatly rewarded.

There were some great questions asked in the Q&A session. I couldn't exactly, clearly hear all the names of the people asking questions so I'm not going to name anyone here. Someone asked why Sprint was the carrier for the Centro and how long their exclusive was going to last. Palm said that they weren't going to go into detail about the chosen carrier but that Sprint has been a great partner at Palm for many years and Sprint was very excited about the Centro design. The exclusive will last for 90 days but it's not an exclusive over the long term. Sprint was their first launch partner though.

Someone asked if Palm has seen any impact in terms of the price reduction on the Apple iPhone relative to Treo sells over the last few weeks. Colligan answered and said that they had not. Then he went on to say that through the weeks that the iPhone was coming out and shipping, initially and lately, that they've seen very little change in Palm's sell-through volumes and in fact, there was little change even at AT&T. Colligan said that he's sure it's had "some" impact but not anything that's significant.

Someone asked about the Linux based OS and how it was proceeding. Colligan answered and said that the operating system; the platform development effort, has gone as well as could be easily expected and that they're excited about how it's been coming along and feel that it's on schedule. He said that part of the reason that Palm has focused more energy on the Linux OS is because they're more excited about it than ever before. It's coming along and Palm is pleased with the development and they think the timeframe (referring to his earlier mention of the end of the next calendar year) is a reasonable one to put out there to say that Palm will have product to market by then.

Someone asked if the Foleo line had basically completely stopped. I never heard him exactly answer that question with a yes or no. Colligan answered and said that the biggest issue around the Foleo was in combination with Palm's excitement around the next generation platform. He said that as Palm was going down the process of releasing the Foleo, they recognized that the right thing to do in going forward was to have "one" Palm user experience. The Foleo development had been underway for some period of time and it was just at a point where Palm was going to have to continue to invest more in it and continue to update it as you would any new product. So Palm just decided that the right thing to do was to have one platform; one Palm user experience. Colligan stated that the Linux platform was really starting to come to fruition. Palm took a lot of the resources that had been working on the Foleo, some of them being Linux experts and some being other application development experts, and felt that if they could take those experts and deploy them on their future system, they could have a higher probability of hitting those dates and assuring that delivery. And they could deliver any product in the future, like a whole range of form factors on top of that platform, including something that looks a lot like Foleo.

So it sounds like there will be something similar to the Foleo in the future. Heck, it might as well just be the Foleo II as that title has already been thrown around quite a bit.

Colligan said that cancelling the Foleo was a heart wrenching decision because he loves the product and he uses it all the time when travelling. He said that it's one of those really great small form factor, instant on/instant access devices that you fall in love with. But he said that it just wasn't totally right, and Palm is going to make it right going forward. But the first thing Palm is going to do is make sure that they nail the platform.

I'm glad to know that Palm is excited over the new platform. That makes me excited and I can't wait to see the upcoming devices. I just wish we didn't have to wait until the end of the next calendar year. ;-( In the meantime, I hope to get my hands on a Centro! ;-)

You can go and listen to a replay of the webcast here.

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