Palm Downplays Patent Threat, Declares Palm OS Dead

The Palm Pre caused a bit of a stir when it was first announced, but after that, few details have made their way onto the web about the device that needs to more or less save Palm. At the Thomas Wiesel Technology and Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Palm CEO Ed Colligan gave out some more details on the Pre, while also downplaying the possibility of a legal spat between Apple and Palm.

Let’s start with the new details on the Palm Pre. As was to be expected, Palm will offer a digital storefront for applications for the device, similar to what Apple and Google have been doing with their platforms. However, unlike Apple, you will not depend on that store for your application needs; you are free to install from other sources.

Another important and so far unaddressed issue is the price of the device. Even though Colligan did not reveal the price of the Pre, he did provide some hints; apparently, Palm wants to have a 30% margin on the Pre. In addition, he stated that Sprint will make a significant investment, which could indicate the phone will be heavily subsidised.

On a sad note, Colligan also more or less shot the final bullet through the old Palm OS’ head. Palm OS is officially past tense, after having been kept alive through a feeding tube for far too long. Palm will focus all its efforts on the new Web OS and its Windows Mobile phones.

He also downplayed the patent threat:

The whole area of patents is elaborate; [there are] a lot of issues there, and a very complex area. One of the things we’ve done over 15 years is build a very extensive patent portfolio in the mobile computing space, one of the highest-rated patent portfolios in this space, which contains more than 1,500 patents. And the reason you do that is to have a defensive position in the marketplace. It’s kind of like two little porcupines going around, and you don’t want to touch each other because you might get stung. You peacefully coexist and everything’s OK and we keep working together.

It’s exactly what some of us had already seen coming: Palm holds a lot of patents Apple possibly infringes on, and Apple holds a lot of patents Palm could be infringing on. They would be out of their minds to sue each other.


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