Palm’s Irish R&D unit files its first patents


25 Sep 2006

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In little over a year since its research and development (R&D) operation was announced, smart phone producer Palm’s 30-strong research team is already in the process of filing its first patents, the company’s senior vice-president John Hartnett told siliconrepublic.com.

Palm, which began life focusing on personal digital assistants (PDAs) is now a fully fledged producer of smart phones, will be focusing heavily on the European market in the year ahead, said Irishman Hartnett.

Last week the company launched the Palm 750v Treo smart phone to the Irish market. The phone will be launched on Vodafone’s network and will feature Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 5.0 technology with push email.

Hartnett confirmed that the onset of the device represents an aggressive attack by Microsoft and Palm on the RIM BlackBerry push email market.

“We reckon that 93pc of the market for push email has yet to be tapped. RIM has an installed base of up to five million users. However, there are over 140 million Microsoft Exchange customers worldwide that are currently on a desktop platform and are ideally placed to migrate to mobile. By integrating with their desktops and by delivering push email we will open up this market opportunity. Consider this a direct assault on RIM’s market.”

Last year Palm established a new R&D office in Swords to focus on third-generation mobile products for the European market and already Hartnett believes the operation has exceeded its goals.

“We were developing products out of Silicon Valley but they needed to have a European focus. To really succeed in Europe you need to get carrier and customer requirements just right. This can be a complex job.

“The Treo 750v was the first Palm product that we shipped first to Europe and the Irish team had an important role to play in that in terms of speed to market and quality assurance.

“The team we have in Dublin is one of the most multicultural teams I have ever experienced in any country worldwide with people from Ireland, Russia, France, the UK and Germany.

“The talent pool in Ireland is immense and we will be working on new products in Swords over the next few years.”

The launch of the Treo 750v will coincide with one of the biggest ever marketing projects in Palm’s history in conjunction with Vodafone and Microsoft with advertising appearing in print, airports and broadcast.

Hartnett said that the Irish team was developing new technologies ahead of expectations. “The team there are already in the process of filing their first patents. It’s a reflection of the talent pool and skill level in the company. Ireland certainly has positioned itself further up the value chain. From a Palm perspective the Irish operation is exceeding expectations after just one year in operation.”

By John Kennedy