Palm CEO Details Pre, Patent Issues

Wednesday at the Thomas Wiesel Technology and Telecom Conference at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, Palm president and CEO Ed Colligan spoke to investors about the Palm Pre, as well as "veiled" threats by Apple against the multi-touch feature in the Palm Web OS.

Here's what Colligan said with regards to a potential patent dispute:
The whole area of patents is elaborate; a lot of issues there, and a very complex area. One of the things we've done over 15 years is build a very extensive patent portfolio in the mobile computing space, one of the highest-rated patent portfolios in this space, which contains more than 1,500 patents. And the reason you do that is to have a defensive position in the marketplace. It's kind of like two little porcupines going around, and you don't want to touch each other because you might get stung. You peacefully coexist and everything's OK and we keep working together.
It's been theorized before that Palm has some patents that Apple may be infringing upon with its iPhone, and thus they could come to some mutually beneficial agreement. Who knows, in reality?

Other items of interest:
  • There will be no more Palm OS devices released (finally!). The Centro may be released on additional carriers.
  • Palm continues to focus on Windows Mobile as well as Palm Web OS.
  • Palm will have an App Store at launch, but unlike Apple, will not limit applications for the device to only those "approved" or available at that store. Very nice. Every loyal Palm user is used to being able to download Palm OS applications from anywhere.
  • Palm won't say how long exclusivity will last with Sprint.
  • Colligan mentioned that Palm would be looking at releasing on other U.S. carriers in the 2010 timeframe, so it sounds like only Sprint, in as much trouble as Palm, is willing to "gamble" on the device. It would also mean Sprint would get at least six-month exclusivity, assuming the rumored June release date.
  • No, he didn't mention pricing. But he did say the price will have to be "competitive" with market conditions at launch.
  • Although Palm licensed Palm OS to other vendors in the past (e.g., Sony), Palm Web OS is likely to remain proprietary.