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The Palm Completes 10 Years

Posted on 28-Mar-2006 11:31 | Filed under: News

The Palm Completes 10 Years
Ten years ago, Palm, Inc. launched the first Pilot connected organizer, a 5.7-ounce device combining calendar, contacts, to-do lists and notes. The original Pilot organizer, which sold for US$299, owed its success largely to two breakthrough features: Its ability to synchronize easily with a computer and its ease of use. As time went on, Palm stayed true to its design philosophy while continuing to innovate, adding numerous new functions such as email and wireless and multimedia capabilities, from images to music.

Today's top-of-the-line product is the Treo smartphone, which combines a handheld computer with a mobile phone and email experience. Since using its own OS, through using Microsoft's Windows Mobile in the latest device, that was a long journey.

"The first Pilot organizer was such a runaway success, even we were a bit surprised," said Ed Colligan, Palm president and chief executive officer. "But in one of my first conversations with Jeff Hawkins he convinced me that the future of personal computing -- REAL personal computing -- was going to be in these highly mobile devices. That's why he designed the Pilot. And that vision still holds today. The Pilot and its many Palm successors have become an extension of millions of people's lives -- keeping them connected to their work and home, letting them do email and browse the web on the go, allowing them to keep all their favorite files, music, photos and videos with them. I'm enormously proud of what we've accomplished, and I'm even more excited about what's yet to come."

People bought more than 34 million Palm devices over the years, including 3 million smartphones. For many of them, the Palm V handheld was the first Palm product to charm gadget fans and trendsetters, marking a tipping point for mainstream market adoption.

Some, like myself, started using the Palm since its first generation, and upgraded to a new model every couple of years. In my case the cycle changed when the Windows Mobile showed enough features to make me jump to the other side. But the Palm was always a reference, a landmark.

While Palm continues to offer a wide range of mobile-computing products, from US$99 organizers to mobile handheld computers with wireless capabilities, it is focusing its investment in smartphones. These phones let customers check email, access personal information such as contacts and calendar, listen to music and take and share photos, plus, with additional software, watch live television, listen to podcasts or post to personal blogs.

Some factoids released by Palm to the press

- Palm's early leaders remain involved in the company's success. Jeff Hawkins helps guide Palm's product roadmap. Donna Dubinsky is a board member. Colligan, now president and chief executive officer, was employee No. 20.

- Palm sold 1 million Pilot organizers in the product's first 18 months -- an adoption rate faster than the IBM PC, Macintosh and even the microwave oven.

- The original Pilot was the first mobile device that worked as a companion to a PC, so customers could synchronize their information and take it with them.

- The first Pilot was built on a processor similar to those used by standard traffic lights and was powered by two AAA batteries (which lasted three months).