updated 04:35 pm EDT, Mon May 19, 2008
Palm at JPMorgan 2008
Palm considers itself to have strengths associated with Apple, the company's chief financial officer Andy Brown said this afternoon at JPMorgan's yearly technology conference. The manager notes explains that Palm, like Apple, is one of the few companies to design both its phones and the operating system underneath, allowing the Centro maker to design one with the other in mind. The use of Windows Mobile on some Treo smartphones is primarily to improve margins on developing phones, Brown says. First-party software is still seen as the company's "core expertise."
The executive also drew attention to recent hires of former Apple employees as a sign of Palm's reorganization, including former iPod chief Jon Rubinstein as well as controversial chief financial officer Fred Anderson, who has been influential on the "operational side" of the company by improving its finances.
Despite these changes, Palm doesn't expect any major breakthroughs in its product lineup in the immediate future, according to Brown. While hinting at a launch for the Treo 800w on Verizon in the summer, Brown reiterates that the company's long-awaited, Linux-based Palm OS replacement won't be unveiled until late 2008 and won't appear in shipping products until the first half of 2009. No details of the OS have been discussed, though the Palm official adds that the company's financial backers at Elevation Partners have supported the phone producer based on what has been seen so far of the new software.
The update will be Palm's most significant to date and will have more than three years of development before it ships.
Brown's statements come after the company has posted recent losses and forecasts a difficult road ahead for its devices. Although buoyed by the low-cost Centro, the company is continuing to suffer from sales of its premium Treo smartphones.