Back in 1996, Palm released its first Palm Pilot PDAs onto the market, and quickly became a household name in the PDa business – so far as that Palm and Palm Pilot became synonyms for any PDA device. The company has hit some rough waters lately, but if it’s up to CEO Ed Colligan, that’s all going to change in the coming years.APCMag interviewed Colligan, asking him first and foremost if there’s still a place for Palm in a world seemingly dominated by Microsoft, RIM, newcomer Apple, and up and coming star Google’s Android. With a smile, he replies “Palm’s got maybe 15 million customers and 50 million devices around the world, it’s brand that’s globally recognised. We sold a million Centros in the first five months of it going on sale with one carrier in the US, so to say were not an active player in the market is not really accurate.”
Colligan also explains that the phone market is so large, there is enough room for multiple players. “There will be 1.2 billion new handsets sold this year, there’s billions of users around the world, so there’s a huge opportunity,” he explains, “And it seems to me that when there’s a billion of anything sold per year – well, we don’t have to have Apple, RIM or Nokia be unsuccessful for us to be enormously successful.”
The most interesting bit of the interview is about Palm’s next generation operating system, which is not yet branded but is based on Linux.
“We’re focused on executing our own system, mostly because we really believe that to create the most compelling solution it should be an integrated package much like we started with the Palm OS and doing the original Palm Pilots: we did the operating system, we did the hardware and we did the whole synching architecture and the desktop tie-in, which is equivalent to the Web these days. One of the things we wanted to do is to make sure that we had an end-to-end solution we really controlled and could deliver the end-user experience we want to deliver.”
Confusingly enough, the classic PalmOS, as well as Windows Mobile, will continue to play important roles in Palm’s product strategy. Colligan divides their product lines into three directions: consumer, prosumer and enterprise. Palm’s consumer devices (Centro) will continue to run the ‘classic’ PalmOS, the new prosumer devices will run the new Linux-based OS, while the enterprise devices will continue to run Windows Mobile. The new OS will makes it debut in 2009.