An Interview With Palm CEO Ed Colligan

| About: Palm, Inc. (PALM)

There are still plenty of unanswered question about the new newness unveiled by Palm (PALM) earlier Thursday, but there are fewer unasked questions. I spent some time interviewing Palm CEO Ed Colligan, who answered some questions, dodged some others, and generally filled in some of the gaps from today’s press conference.

Here are some of my questions, and Colligan’s answers:

  • Pricing: It’s up to Sprint to set the street price, and you don’t want to do it until closer to launch, given the competitive environment.
  • Exclusivity for Sprint (NYSE:S): “It’s a launch exclusive. Not forever.”
  • Non-U.S. markets: The big opportunity is not in other CDMA markets, but in UMTS markets; he says they will have a UMTS version, which is on the same development cycle as the CDMA version. The CDMA version will launch first, but the other version will follow soon after. He says the Pre will launch in markets outside the U.S. before the end of the year.
  • Will they license the platform to other hardware vendors? Not yet. “We’ve looked at the pros and cons,” he says. “I would not rule it out absolutely. It makes no sense until you have a critical mass of products running on the platform, and it has an established position. Today it would be the wrong thing to do.”
  • An enterprise product, or a consumer product? He says they have targeted “the fat middle.” It works with Exchange out of the box. “We’re really targeting busy people on the go. We’re hopeful the design will appeal to a lot of people.”
  • Big marketing campaign coming? Oh, yeah. And today was really the start of it.
  • What about the other Palm phones? Colligan notes that they just launched the Treo Pro, which he says is the best Windows Mobile product on the market, for enterprise customers. And they continue to sell the Centro for teens and young adults.
  • Who actually makes the phone? A major Asian ODM. But not HTC.
  • Is there any removable storage in the phone? No.
  • On the timing of launching during a recession: “I feel pretty good about this category, relative to 90% of the other businesses in the world,” he says. “People are pretty dedicated to their handsets. It’s a reasonably protected area, although who knows?”

On the Street, enthusiasm for the phones this afternoon is high: the stock, which rose $1.15, or 34.9%, to $4.45 in the regular session, was up another 30 cents, or 6.7%, to $4.75 in late trading.

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