Palm outlines smartphone/OS future strategy

Palm CEO Ed Colligan recently outlined Palm's plans for the next year concerning smartphone design and operating systems.

Palm CEO Ed Colligan recently outlined Palm's plans for the next year concerning smartphone design and operating systems. They currently offers smartphones running two operating systems: Palm OS and Windows Mobile. In a conference call yesterday, the company's CEO revealed how his company will use these.

Ed Colligan said:

"Our two-pronged approach is to 1) leverage Windows Mobile and our ODM partners backed by Palm-designed expertise to serve our business customers, and 2) build our Palm System Software products for end-to-end seamless consumer solutions."

This isn't a ground-breaking announcement, as Palm has clearly had this strategy for some time.

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While the company once targeted its Palm OS smartphones at both business users and consumers, in the past year or so devices like the Treo 680 and Centro have been primarily consumer products. And from the beginning the Windows Mobile Treos have had an enterprise focus.

Still, yesterday's statement serves as confirmation that this will be Palm's strategy going forward.

However, Colligan didn't say anything about whether this plan will change when his company starts shipping models with the Linux-based operating system that is currently in development.

Breaking Out of the Treo Mold

An area where Palm has been heavily criticized is lack of flexibility in its product designs. Every one of its smartphones has been a slight modification of the original Treo 600.

Colligan promised that this will soon change. He said yesterday, "We recognize we need to build a larger array of offerings."

He also said:

"We're working on absolutely breakthrough designs, breakthrough user experience, breakthrough UI and other functionality on next generation systems, so we're not stopping at anything short of revolutionary and fantastic design."

Not surprisingly, he did not go into any details on what the new designs will be. Still, the CFO Andrew J. Brown said something that might affect plans, "What I hear more from our carrier partners is, for instance, high-end clamshells are not selling and people are looking for products with QWERTY keyboards."

Jon Rubinstein has recently joined Palm, and among his other duties is head of product development. In his previous stint at Apple, Inc., he was instrumental in conceiving the iPod, plus he also led the team that built the iMac. He will be the driving force behind the creation of any new designs.

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