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Tech Check with Jim Goldman interview with Ed Colligan

Fri Aug 1, 2008 - 3:10 AM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell


Jim Goldman of Tech Check with Jim Goldman over at CNBC.com sat down with Ed Colligan, CEO of Palm, for an exclusive video interview on Tuesday. Palm had just announced on Tuesday that they'd sold 2 million Centros.

Goldman asked Colligan about Palm selling the 2 millionth Centro, and Colligan noted that they'd sold 2 million in half the time that it took them to sell the first million. I knew that it took 6 months to sell the first million but didn't know that it took half the time to sell the second million. My math, which is horrible, had the second million at more like 4 to 5 months. Colligan should know though. ;-)

Colligan said that he believes that a big part of the acceleration of Centro is based on the fact that people who were going in and were going to get a free phone or a $49 phone, had a sales person tell them that for just $99, they could get a full smartphone in a nice little form factor that's easy to use and isn't intimidating. I can sure understand that. If I went into a store and was expecting to get a free or cheap phone and then saw the Centro, I'm sure I would be leaving the store with the Centro. For not much more, you get a real smartphone with a full QWERTY keyboard and the ability to put a crap load of great software on the phone. You can text, email, surf the web, take photos, email those photos, listen to music, etc. Plus, the Centro just looks great and is the perfect size.

Colligan talked about the new Facebook application on the Centro:

... it's the most beautiful integration of Facebook on any devices because it's really designed well for a small form factor and brings you all the functionality of that to the display.

Colligan said that Palm tries to position the Centro as more of a fun device that's a little more accessible to the average person. First time users will appreciate that the Centro has the small form factor, a full QWERTY keyboard and the ability to access the web.

Colligan said that Centro, to a large extent, is a marketing exercise:

There's not a lot of new technology in it, but it's a great job of packaging it, positioning it, at the right price points to the right customer set to really make it successful.

Goldman talked to Colligan about the way that Apple, RIM and Nokia get so much press coverage. He asked Colligan if it was frustrating that Palm isn't resonating in the public discourse. Colligan replied that he wasn't really frustrated and that he's really focused on the sell through and the people buying Palm's devices. He said that just this week, Palm set another sell through record. Colligan also said that they're working on some breakthrough and innovative things that he thinks will put Palm back into that discussion.

Colligan talked about Palm having a lot of work ahead of them, and how they had a very big base and lost part of that base when transitioning into the cell phone business, which he noted was no "walk in the park". He feels that Palm is lined up very well for a really breakthrough level of innovation that people are going to be really excited about.

Goldman asked Colligan if he'd played around with the iPhone. Colligan said that he had as he usually plays with all the competitor's products that are reasonably within their space. Colligan said that he thought the iPhone was "one of the most beautifully designed MP3 and media products ever", and he thinks the user interface experience that they brought to the table on that was really well done. He thinks that in the grand scheme of the device as a whole, the hype has gotten a little carried away.

I really enjoyed watching the interview. Goldman did a great job of asking questions and both he and Colligan joked around a bit. I always enjoy hearing Colligan speak as he has such an energetic, positive, and confident personality. I already believe in Palm as a company, but if I didn't, I probably would after hearing Colligan speak a few times.

There's much more to the interview and I just went over some highlights here. You can watch the the video interview here.

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