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Comments on: Jon Rubinstein Interview at Fortune

Ruby CEO Fourtune's Brainstorm Tech blog has posted an interview with current Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein. The interview is an interesting read for webOS users and Palm history buffs alike. The interviewer pitches out a series of direct and to the point questions on Palm's current situation, issues and competition. Ruby provides some straightforward answers for change and is upfront about the challenges that lie ahead for Palm Inc.

F: Can you succeed being frugal when the competition is going pedal to the metal spending money and has the resources to do it?

JR: Necessity is the mother of invention, right? I mean, would I rather have a spare billion dollars to go spend on brand advertising around the world? Of course I would. But that's not the reality. So it may take us a while, but we will work our way through this, and we're continuing to invest very heavily in engineering on both webOS development and on new product development.

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Good Bye Palm

PacManFoo @ 4/8/2010 10:55:06 AM # Q
He is wrong on at least one account. The company would have had a future if it would have continued to evolve the PDA. Just look at what Apple has done with the touch and now iPad. This is the direction Palm should have gone. Many were very quick to say that the PDA was dead but Apple has proven that it just needed to evolve more. I went from a Palm TX to a iPod Touch around a year ago and couldn't be happier with the move. The iPod Touch is an awesome PDA. The programs for it are reasonably priced as opposed to the outrageous amounts I spent for Palm OS programs.

Diving into the shark entrenched waters of the phone is what will eventually become Palms undoing.
The last known classic PDA user.

RE: Good Bye Palm
e_tellurian @ 4/8/2010 11:08:31 AM # Q
Palm could evolve the PDA to something completely different with traditional functionality. Personal Digital Assistance need more to do too. This will offer more for all assistance to do.

E-T
e-tellurian

Completing the e-com circle with a people driven we-com solution
WiFi & BT? No strings attached
we_tellurian@canada.com

RE: Good Bye Palm
vetdoctor @ 4/8/2010 11:12:56 AM # Q
>>>The company would have had a future if it would have continued to evolve the PDA. Just look at what Apple has done with the touch and now iPad. <<<

I don't think that was really their mistake. Apple has tons of money and, more importantly, tons of name brand reputation behind their product because of the iPhone. If Apple opened a chain of restaurants they would initially make money because of all the people who think anything Apple does is good. Palm has none of this. Even when they had a name they lacked the "ooph" to drive the market with a non-phone device nor do/did they have the technical skill to produce a "pad" device. Oh yeah, and actually my point is proven because they tried. They sunk their last intellectual dime into the Foleo and failed miserablely. If it had succeded the iPad would be a also-ran.
In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician.
- Chesterton

RE: Good Bye Palm
LiveFaith @ 4/8/2010 11:20:13 AM # Q
Good read. Thanks PIC.

I agree with your assessment of the PDA market with one exception. Poor Palm would still be trying to make excuses as to why their PalmPad and Tungsten 14z etc does not need WiFi, or a camera, or a VR, or an LED indicator.

Not only did Palm walk away from it's cash cow for the lure of the smartphone market, but they froze all of those awesome retail channels. All you hear now is apps, apps, apps. Apple went off like a nuke concerning this,and a whole new generation of PDA users not only came to their party, but think they invented the idea. Palm, Symbian, and M$ were light years ahead and are now scrambling around trying to copycat their new market master.

Here's a related story. My 14 year old's iPod touch died in December. He loved it and had a gazillion free apps on it. Now he's got a feature phone and just realized yesterday that he can just slap MP3s on his SDmicro and his phone worx like an iPod. He comes to me and says "Dad, your not going to believe this, but it's so easy to just put all my music on the SD and bang it's on my phone. No more wasting time with iTunes". He had no idea that this was the old fashioned way. :-) He thot it was amazing. That's how well Apple has reached a new segment with old products (apps), but has made the threshold so low and accessible that many don't even know that another way ever existed / exists. The PC guys walked in. Unreal.
Pat Horne

RE: Good Bye Palm
PacManFoo @ 4/8/2010 11:28:32 AM # Q
The Foleo was too dependent on a Treo. It wasn't a stand alone device. It was also way underpowered and it would have been more in the netbook category. I don't think it is nearly as comparable to the iPad as you think. If Palm would have come out with a standalone pad it would have been a huge success for them. They also could have come out with a PDA using the WebOS but chose to stick entirely with phones. Palm ignored their traditional PDA users and upset their software developers. At the time Palm did have this ooph factor that you speak of. The announcement of the Foleo was quite huge at the time, it just didn't take long for people to see the limitations of the Foleo.
The last known classic PDA user.
RE: Good Bye Palm
hkklife @ 4/8/2010 12:31:34 PM # Q
The Fooleo had innards & specs comparable to a Palm TX or LifeDrive (128mb RAM, 416Mhz CPU, no video acceleration, single USB port, limited VGA out). The earliest, cheapest Asus EEE PC (2G Surf) released around that same time had a an Intel Celeron-M 800mhz CPU, Intel GMA 900 GPU + 512mb DDR2 RAM and 2GB SSD storage. Nothing spectacular, but enough to multitask, run full-screen accelerated videos and do some basic 3D gaming. Heck, it could even run XP in a pinch. I had the original 4G EEE and while I hated the screen & keyboard, I was continuously surprised at its relative performance for the size & price. Other than keyboard size & its screen size/res, the Fooleo was overpriced and under-spec'd in EVERY way.

Even if the Foleo had had more in the way of integrated functionality, beefier hardware under the hood and been $100 cheaper than the post-rebate price, I wouldn't have given it much of a chance against the Acer/Asus/Samsung netbooks that quickly flooded the market. What all of us PDA faithful were asking for YEARS ago was a PDA with a larger screen & more powerful guts than the T5/TX alongside a Treo with a 320x480 screen. Heck, even a Treo with a different formfactor (slider, flip etc) would have been better than miling the Treo 600 design to death. Instead of responding to any of the requests of their dwindling but still loyal user base, Palm spent countless $ and man-hours on the Fooleo dead end.
Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->Verizon Moto Droid + Verizon Palm Centro

RE: Good Bye Palm
CFreymarc @ 4/8/2010 12:54:28 PM # Q
Wow, this is happening sooner than I thought. IMO, webOS is not the biggest asset Palm has but its patent suite and long term engineering talent puts the company on the map. I never considered Lenovo but it is a good match. I would prefer to see those patents and talent go to Motorola IMO.
RE: Good Bye Palm
PacManFoo @ 4/8/2010 1:01:05 PM # Q
hkklife, You are correct and said it perfectly! I guess what I am trying to say is if Palm had continued with the PDA and made these types of devices you spoke of that they would have had been a step ahead of Apple in bringing out a Pad like device. It's been a long time since I posted on PIC but at the time I was laughed at by the likes of Freakout for even mentioning still using a PDA. Guess what, I still use a PDA but now it's made by Apple and soon I will be using an iPad as well. Funny how things go in circles. I started many years ago using a Newton only to go to Palm when that was canceled.
The last known classic PDA user.
RE: Good Bye Palm
questionfear @ 4/8/2010 1:33:37 PM # Q
CFreymarc wrote:
Wow, this is happening sooner than I thought. IMO, webOS is not the biggest asset Palm has but its patent suite and long term engineering talent puts the company on the map. I never considered Lenovo but it is a good match. I would prefer to see those patents and talent go to Motorola IMO.

And they would have...two years ago. Moto's Android phones have so completely outsold the Palm Pre and Pixi that there's no reason for Moto to spend money for an also-ran.

RE: Good Bye Palm
SeldomVisitor @ 4/8/2010 1:34:17 PM # Q
I sure wish someone would define that "patent portfolio".

As far as I have read - and I've read everything I could find - I can find NO ENTITY that licenses a single one of Palm's "patent portfolio".

Hmmmm....

If that portfolio is so valuable I would certainly think SOMEONE would be licensing some part of it.

So...you know...where's the beef?

Sweet-nothing answers won't cut it.

RE: Good Bye Palm
hkklife @ 4/8/2010 2:37:14 PM # Q
SV;

Perhaps Palm's perpetual Garnet license is worth...something?

Perhaps someone would buy up Palm and then set out in an mid-90s Atari/Tramiel-style campaign to sue the pants off of everyone imaginable in lieu of actually trying to release any profitable new product. Basically, Palm would make a nice extra limb to help prop up someone just through litigation alone. Or they could try (like the Psion "netbook" mess recently) for quiet out of court settlements. I'm not an idea, just sort of floating ideas out there for ya!

Perhaps Hawkins' early-mid 90s efforts will pay off years down the road in a Lemmelson-like strategy:

http://www.hazzardandhore.com/docs/papers/lw39.pdf
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerome_H._Lemelson

Did we ever arrive at anything conclusive about the "smile" QWERTY keyboard arrangement between RIM & Palm?
Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->Verizon Moto Droid + Verizon Palm Centro

RE: Good Bye Palm
LiveFaith @ 4/8/2010 4:59:34 PM # Q
Khris,

I don't believe RIM is holding anything over Palm based on the smile / flat design. That was tossed around a lot back in the Centro / 500 release days. Palm's Treos obviously did not get them in hot water and the Pre did it again. Therefore, I don't think it's relevant. Unless RIM is accepting some sort of licensing for it. And I can't see that either.
Pat Horne

RE: Good Bye Palm
SeldomVisitor @ 4/8/2010 5:05:53 PM # Q
hkklife wrote:
Did we ever arrive at anything conclusive about the "smile" QWERTY keyboard arrangement between RIM & Palm?

There's a thread right here that discusses that - and YOU started the "smile" discussion part of it!:

http://www.palminfocenter.com/comments/9632/#143096

It was determined that the out-of-court settlement got RIM some bucks from Handspring.

For some unknown reason, my hazy synapses are saying a couple bucks per device but I have NO idea why.

Searching Treocentral with "rim handspring keyboard patent" didn't turn up bucks but the results contained links, among which were:

http://www.treocentral.com/content/Stories/180-1.htm

http://news.cnet.com/Palm-licenses-RIMs-keyboard-design/2100-1040_3-964892.html

RE: Good Bye Palm
2klbs @ 4/8/2010 10:48:37 PM # M Q
Hey SV, The settlement was on Nov 5 2002 & involved HS & Palm paying an undisclosed royalty to RIM for the use of "various keyboard technologies", the latter for their upcoming Tungsten W later in 03. Too late to find the press release tonight, but I remember that date for other reasons.
RE: Good Bye Palm
hkklife @ 4/8/2010 11:07:03 PM # M Q
The Tungsten W ran OS 4.1 (but with a 320x320 screen) and was released in October 2002. Are you perhaps thinking of 2003's Tungsten C? It had a similar formfactor and keyboard.

Gosh, that device was sooo ahead of its time (Really! I'n not being sarcastic-it was probably the snappiest Palm OS device I ever used!)

RE: Good Bye Palm
jca666us @ 4/9/2010 4:24:39 AM # Q
I sure wish someone would define that "patent portfolio".
As far as I have read - and I've read everything I could find - I can find NO ENTITY that licenses a single one of Palm's "patent portfolio".

I think Palm has a patent for an ambient light sensor in a mobile device...lol

Palm has never (in recent memory) defended their patent portfolio, so it's probably worthless and/or they'd lose going up against anyone.

If that portfolio is so valuable I would certainly think SOMEONE would be licensing some part of it.

Licensing is unimportant; Rubinstein would rather put the money into R&D - let's hope the next product doesn't have a postage stamp sized display and has decent build quality.

RE: Good Bye Palm
abosco @ 4/9/2010 5:25:59 AM # M Q
The T|W had a 400 MHz X-Scale, right? I remember those suckers were speedy.

I saw my first Pre in the wild yesterday. I was in a Hertz in Detroit for business and I heard an old-style ring. First Pre I've ever seen - and it only took about nine months.

RE: Good Bye Palm
2klbs @ 4/9/2010 7:48:12 AM # Q
hkklife wrote:
The Tungsten W ran OS 4.1 (but with a 320x320 screen) and was released in October 2002. Are you perhaps thinking of 2003's Tungsten C? It had a similar formfactor and keyboard.

Gosh, that device was sooo ahead of its time (Really! I'n not being sarcastic-it was probably the snappiest Palm OS device I ever used!)


'found one of the press releases I recalled (this one re HandSpring...):

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/stories/2002/11/04/daily27.html

Now that I have my morning coffee, I found that the suit settlement didn't involve Palm, but perhaps not conceidentally, later int the week, Palm licensed the tech from RIM:

http://www.internetnews.com/wireless/article.php/1497081

Boy, that brings a flood of giddy "those were the days" memories...

HKK- didn't the W & C come out within a couple months of each other on early 2003? Something tickles my medulla as Feb & April... But yes, I also seem to recall W was still on OS 4.1 and the C finally rolled on 5 with WiFi instead of cellular? IS that right? Wow, those were cool times. I seem to recall devices coming out like hotcakes over those two years.

Not "Pre-verted"- Android Assimilation?

RE: Good Bye Palm
2klbs @ 4/9/2010 7:56:32 AM # Q
abosco wrote:
The T|W had a 400 MHz X-Scale, right? I remember those suckers were speedy.

Yeah, I recall my co-worker had one (I had a BB) and we were on a 'plane sitting next to someone that had a Treo 600 and spoke with her about the whole flight (what a couple of geeks we were, beautiful girl and we chatted her up about her phone). We both spent the next 24 hours before our meeting trying to track down a Sprint outlet in Houston, finally finding one and fighting over the only model they had in stock. I lost, but found one shortly after I got home the next week. I recall the fever to get one kinda like my wife's current anxiousness for Summer and iPhone 4.0


Not "Pre-verted"- Android Assimilation?

RE: Good Bye Palm
hkklife @ 4/9/2010 8:43:43 AM # Q
2k;

Yup, you're right. I had forgotten that the T|W was initially delayed by several months. I think it was supposed to launch alongside the T|T in October-ish '02.

http://www.palminfocenter.com/view_story.asp?ID=4448

Then the T|C arrived with much better specs & wi-fi instead of cellular connectivity. That brief period from late '02 to late '03 was the only period when Palm actually pushed the envelope and rolled out new devices in succession that were tangible improvements over their predecessors.

Abosco;
Yeah, that T|C was damn snappy. It had the same CPU as the T3 but didn't have as many pixels to push around. I remember iniitally taking a pass on the T|C (I preferred Graffiti over the keyboard and thought it was kinda chunky) but after playing with one and finding a good deal on a "C", the speed & extra memory made me dump my T2...only to go back to the slider formfactor a few months later when the T3 appeared!
Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p->Verizon Moto Droid + Verizon Palm Centro

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Please retitle this article...

jca666us @ 4/8/2010 7:27:07 PM # M Q
Jon Rubinsten Interview at Mis-Fortune

This guy's head is really in the sand.

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Patent Portfolio No Longer a Marketable Asset?

2klbs @ 4/9/2010 9:31:57 AM # Q
SV et al:

Didn't Palm aggregate it's patent portfolio with RPX Corp earlier in the year?

I don't know if their agreement with RPX involved wholesale sale or just purchases of rights, but either way it likely reduces the attractiveness of any perceived value of same to a suitor.

Although Palm still retains access to their old patents (and gets access to the "pool" of patents contributed by others), didn't they trade their ability to buy and sell these in return for protection services for litigation from RPX?

I know better minds than mine on these forums understand IP mechanics better than I. But I haven't seen this issue noted in the discussion of acquisition of late.
Not "Pre-verted"- Android Assimilation?

RE: Patent Portfolio No Longer a Marketable Asset?
2klbs @ 4/9/2010 9:41:03 AM # Q
Here's the Link-o-la:

Feb of this year-

http://rpxcorp.com/releases/current/pr_100216member35.html
Not "Pre-verted"- Android Assimilation?

RE: Patent Portfolio No Longer a Marketable Asset?
SeldomVisitor @ 4/9/2010 10:13:56 AM # Q
What an excellent point.

Thanks, I had forgotten that.

RE: Patent Portfolio No Longer a Marketable Asset?
e_tellurian @ 4/9/2010 10:45:28 AM # Q
The Internet and a we-com virtual wallet can assure the people that start thinking about new ideas can be compensated for their time.

The Internet can help resolve patent issues by helping to identify the original thought by date and time. Those that created the content simply show the content which usually has a date and time associated with the content created and can identify the people that help to bring new thoughts to market thus leaving no one behind in the process of advanced innovation.

A we-com virtual wallet can also identify the people associated with the new content thereby assuring ones time can be compensated if and when the content goes to market.

Advanced we-com ways of doing business will enhance the efficiency of innovation while saving time and money in costly litigation.

E-T
e-tellurian

Completing the e-com circle with a people driven we-com solution
WiFi & BT? No strings attached
we_tellurian@canada.com

RE: Patent Portfolio No Longer a Marketable Asset?
BaalthazaaR @ 4/9/2010 12:38:04 PM # Q
Actually that reads like a club or a gang where if you mess with one, you mess with all. It doesn't actually seem to suggest that Palm doesn't still own the patents. But IADNAL and I haven't seen the agreement that Palm signed.


IADNAL so my opinions on law don't matter.

RE: Patent Portfolio No Longer a Marketable Asset?
2klbs @ 4/9/2010 1:04:56 PM # Q
BaalthazaaR wrote:
Actually that reads like a club or a gang where if you mess with one, you mess with all. It doesn't actually seem to suggest that Palm doesn't still own the patents. But IADNAL and I haven't seen the agreement that Palm signed.


IADNAL so my opinions on law don't matter.

I have to say I'm a neophyte to the "Defensive Patent Aggregation" game too, but I do recall from earlier readings on RPX that 2/3 of their patent acquisitions are lock-stock and barrel, and the remaining 1/3, while technically only "rights", still follow the same model of you so eloquently paraphrase above.

Since RPX rolled on their slightly different spin on the DPA model, I've seen this a good "middle of the road" solution to companies that may have a portfolio of some value and yet may not be worth defending/enforcing in a "non-practicing entities" (AKA Patent Troll) suit. Or perhaps allowing a smaller-cap company access rights to the "pool" of patents owned by others that have sold to RPX. It seems the best analogy is a Co Op membership.

It's not to say that Palm's participation and sale of its portfolio in any capacity diminishes it's value to a suitor, (although it might), but it certainly would change the perspective of a company looking to use a single or set of patents as a substantial income stream when 35 of its potential income sources now have access to those anyway.


Not "Pre-verted"- Android Assimilation?

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