At the time of the local presentation of Palm's new PalmOS based
mobile, the Centro, I interviewed the firm's Latin America director.
Here are a few of his answers in an IT Examiner exclusive. Overall,
after the Centro launch I see a certain change of heart with regards to
the firm's attitude towards the Palm OS, once relegated to the back seat
at the time of the firm's then-new love affair with Microsoft.
It seems to me that the Centro has finally showed Palm that they have a
winner in their hands for a certain market segment which they have been
ignoring for some time: the young and connected 'Generation X'
consumers. These customers often do not need nor want the complexity of
Windows based devices. And coupled with a stylish design, the firm says
it's reaching people who never used a 'smartphone' before.
Max Casero (sales manager). Sergio Stivala (country manager) JP Falabella (marketing)
But more on that below. Here are some highlights about the firm's
strategy, culled from a longer Q&A I had with Miguel Hernandez from Palm
FC: Was the Centro concept first developed as a CDMA phone for
the US market and then a GSM version developed as an afterthought, or
was a GSM in the plans from the beginning? Will Palm continue releasing
phones for the CDMA/USA market first and GSM several months later?.
MH: We first launched a CDMA version late last year. We basically
develop different products for each market in the region. In the case of
the Treo 750, for example, it was launched first as a CDMA phone.
FC: Finally an affordable and stylish PalmOS based phone. Some of
us have been hoping for something like the Centro for a long time, after
seeing what Asian manufacturer GroupSense did with its
Palm OS phones. Do you see more Centro-like devices from Palm going
forward? I mean smaller, more portable devices not strictly for the
'office user' ?.
MH: We don’t talk about future products, but we can tell you our
platform strategy and talk about our design philosophy. We’re committed
to two core platforms: the Palm system software platform, which today is
based on the Palm OS and in the future will migrate to a next-generation
Palm-developed operating system incorporating open technologies; and
All our offerings across both platforms deliver on the advantages of
rich open developer communities, the best possible user experience, the
Palm brand advantage and inspiring industrial design.
On the other hand, the Palm system software platform is differentiated
by an intuitive, powerful UI; tightly integrated hardware, software and
services for a great experience; strong web capabilities; and an
exceptional PIM experience. While the centre of gravity for the Palm
system software is in the consumer market, many customers select the
Palm experience for business and enterprise needs as well.
We also differentiate ourselves on Windows Mobile by designing products
on the latest operating system and building our differentiation
advantages that make our products easier to use and more intuitive than
other Windows Mobile-based products.
FC: Do you think the Blackberry has ironically helped Palm sell
more, in the sense that the Blackberry has lately popularized the
concept of the 'smartphone' as a work device?. Why isn't Palm promoting
more the huge PalmOS third party applications ecosystem as an advantage
over others like the Blackberry?
Yes we are promoting (the PalmOS third party applications) via our
website and via our partnerships with developers.
We don’t comment on our competitors, but I will say that Palm -- along
with other smartphone manufacturers -- are developing the market
worldwide and contributing to the exponential growth we are experiencing.
FC: Is Palm moving forward with its plan for a Linux based
smartphone? What's the latest word on that one?
Palm’s next-generation Palm-developed operating system, which will
incorporate open technologies, will have a modern flexible UI, fast
performance, and an incredibly simple and elegant development
environment. We intend to deliver the platform by end of calendar 2008.
FC: Does Palm see LiMo or Google's Android as a threat? As a Palm
OS user I think the platform still has an edge due to the number of the
software ecosystem available for it.
Thank you! No we don’t view them as a threat. We have always believed
open platforms are tremendously valuable for building a strong developer
community that can offer innovative and specialized add-on software.
First introduced in 1996, the Palm OS created an entire industry of
developers and applications.
FC: Anything else you'd like to add?
Yes. In terms of what you can expect to see from Palm in the future. You
will see us highly focused on delivering customers choices across
innovative open platforms, building and expanding on our technical
advantages and brand, and reaching new customers. We’re definitely
expanding well beyond the power users and business customers, as
individuals today run their lives on our products every day.
That was Miguel Hernandez. But shortly after that, on Thursday after I
met the Palm Argentina execs, Ed Colligan, Palm's top head honcho was
giving a very interesting to APCmag.com, where he detailed Palm's
new three-pronged strategy: keeping the traditional Palm OS for
'consumer' devices, using their upcoming Linux based OS for the rest,
and keeping Windows Mobile as an option to reach the corporate market
which wants those solutions.
The key paragraph of Colligan's interview reads: 'that doesn’t mean the
‘classic’ Palm OS is going away — at least, not yet ... Palm paid US$44
million in 2006 for a what Colligan describes as a “perpetual licence”
for the source code. The agreement includes the right to modify the code
and use it “in whole or in part in any product from Palm and together
with any other system technologies” ... that OS will continue to be
offered in low-end devices typified by the Centro. “Centro is our
consumer line of products, the start of a product line to hit that
demographic and price point” Colligan says. “Centro will be strictly
That echoes the comments I got a day earlier from Sergio Stivala,
country manager for Palm's Souther Cone operations comprising Argentina,
Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay: 'the Palm OS is not going away' he said.
That is a great change of heart and attitude from the images of Ed
Colligan 'selling his soul' -as APC mag put it- to Bill Gates three
years ago at the time of the Windows Mobile based Treo announcement.
Given the current sales success of the PalmOS based Centro,
one has to remember the doom and gloom prophecies three years ago after
the WinMob Treo announcement. Infoconomy ran a story titled 'Palm hands
Microsoft mobile software control', and at ZDNet, David Berlind was
drooling: 'Treo surfaces with Windows Mobile: PalmOS RIP', adding that
'PalmOS from PalmSource is becoming totally irrelevant if not dead
At the time, I wrote for the INQUIRER: 'Luckily for us PalmOS users,
apparently Access Inc and PalmSource disagree with these doomsday
preachers' adding that 'I anticipate that PalmOS will hopefully live on,
to continue being a pebble in Mr. Gates' shoes'. Indeed, finally Palm
has seen once again the strenghts of its traditional OS, and reached a
new market segment with it at the same time. With regards to my
prediction about Gates' shoes, Palm OS still is a formidable pebble! X