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Aug 20, 2008

Palm, Once a Leader, Seeks Path in Smartphone Jungle

Palm, Once a Leader, Seeks Path in Smartphone Jungle

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — If anyone knows how best to survive a corporate near-death experience, it is Jon Rubinstein.

Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

Ed Colligan, left, Palm’s chief executive, and Jon Rubinstein, the executive chairman, who was hired to revive the company.

In 1997 the former Hewlett-Packardengineer was asked by Apple’s founder,Steven P. Jobs, to lead the hardware engineering division at the company, which was then struggling. Apple was wallowing in financial losses and the Mac’s appeal was waning. Mr. Rubinstein agreed, and over the next nine years he and his team of engineers breathed new life into the company by helping develop the iMac and the iPod.

Those experiences should serve him well as he seeks to resuscitate Palm, whose roots in Silicon Valley go back to the PalmPilot, the revolutionary handheld computer, and the Treo, which turned heads as one of the first smartphones...

Wall Street Quote Of The Day, Palm (PALM) Edition

The New York Times checks in with Palm, which is trying to claw its way back to relevancy. Reporter Laura Holson talks to Palm execs who make their case. And for an opinion on the comany's battered stock, she talks to a Wall Street expert:

'It's a binary outcome; it can go one way or another,' said Jonathan Goldberg, a senior analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities in San Francisco. 'They already have an aging product. If these new devices are great, the stock price will go up. If they are late, it will go lower.'

Palm Releases Treo Pro

Palm as just released their much anticipated - and leaked - Treo Pro, a Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional device with a touchscreen and UMTS/HSDPA GSM networking. The phone also includes G.P.S. and improved WiFi handling for better and easier WiFi hand-off.

The new Treo is thinner than devices like the 800w and is targeted at the mobile professional market and is not an “iPhone-killer.” Instead it is part of a conscious strategy by Palm to release a series of “great” products in order to bring themselves back out of the doldrums.

I love Palm OS - WinMo not so much - and each iteration of the Treo seems to be a step in the right direction. Can these WinMo phones save the company? I’m not quite sure. HTC, Samsung, and even LG are all releasing low-end, powerful smartphones for the casual to high-use business user. The Palm Centro has the casual set sewn up right now but not for long - contracts run out and the iPhone is quite tempting to the folks who once loved the Motorola RAZR. Motorola and Palm both have a big problem on their hands and we can only watch and wait to see how this pans out.

WSJ Creates BlackBerry App, Opens Some Previously Paid Content.

For those of you who read WSJ for the articles, the new BlackBerry-compatible WSJ.com Mobile Reader will open up the nasty walled garden that is WSJ.com. The application will be free and most of the content will be open, although there are plans to lock it down in the near future. The application will draw in stories fromWSJ.comAllThingsD.com, and MarketWatch.com.

You can track specific companies and get 30-minute old stock quotes on the fly. Why no iPhone implementation? Until HSBC pulls the trigger on Apple, the iPhone isn’t quite WSJ’s audience.

More Changes At Motorola: Shaddock Out, Cipolla In (MOT)

More musical chairs at Motorola's (MOT) beleaguered, to-be-spun-off cellphone division: Rob Shaddock (right), the SVP responsible for consumer mobile products, has resigned.

His replacement: John Cipolla, a 30-year Motorola vet, who will lead consumer products and report directly to new mobile devices CEO Sanjay Jha.

Cipolla was promoted to SVP for mid- to high-end cellphones in April in the same mini-reorg that named Shaddock head of consumer products. Shaddock was previously head of mass-market cellphones, and prior to that, was CTO of the mobile devices division.

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