For almost two years now, PalmOne Inc. and PalmSource Inc. have had a confusing naming arrangement that began when PalmOne Inc. spun off the software side of the business and acquired Handspring Inc. That arrangement has come to an end with the recent announcement that PalmOne had bought the

rights to the Palm brand and will now exist as Palm Inc. PalmSource will have two years to wean its customers off the Palm name. It might be a big deal to the company, but it fortunately for Palm, it means little to customers who have made little distinction between the two all along. Pipeline asked Michael Moskowitz, president of Americas International for Palm Inc., what the name change implied for the marketing of the company’s mobile computing wares.

Pipeline: How long has this been in the works?

Michael Moskowitz: We have always had Palm in our name, so it has been a journey throughout our product, and the life of our company so as far as the name goes, it has been something we have been looking at for some time. Palm is a very powerful asset, it has significant customer awareness, and now we own it outright and we can now invest appropriately to build on a word we think is synonymous with leadership in mobile computing.

Pipeline: What do you expect this change to do for Palm in terms of acquiring market share?

MM: One doesn’t translate directly into another. We plan to build on the Palm name. We currently support the Trio, Zire and Tungsten brand of products and our new category called the Mobile Manager.

Pipeline: To a certain extent Palm is fairly synonymous with PDA — for a lot of consumers, a PDA is†a Palm. How do you plan to build on that with the increasing amount of competition from other hand-held makers, particularly those using Microsoft-based operating systems?

MM: A lot of people think we were always called Palm, so we re definitely going to build on that. I think market share really tells the story. If you look at our handheld market share and the strength in world markets, particularly in North America we re really strong. Palm is a name that has been around since the early 1990s, even when we were a software company and we developed the first Palm Pilot, so it has been around for a long time.

Pipeline: Until recently handheld computing and mobile computing have been two separate things. Do you plan to move away from associating your products with handheld computing to compete more with laptops and tablet PCs?

MM: I think if you look at our products we re trying to create new markets, so for a PDA to compete against a laptop would be a very difficult thing to do, although there are many people who use handhelds and smartphones to supplement their computing environments. They are very different technologies. One is a mobile computing environment whereby you have devices that are voice-centric and data-centric and strong on messaging, but today they are not replacing your laptop. They may replace some of the time you spend in front of a laptop because you can work anywhere, but it s not replacing the full functionality of your laptop today, nor have we ever positioned it that way. But with the advent of a much greater percentage of mobile workers being in touch with their customers more closely and also setting a different set of expectations for their customers in terms of response times, you can understand how mobile computing is the next wave. In Canada, look at the IDC numbers that are being quoted for converged mobile devices. The 2004 actual was about 295,000 units. That’s not handhelds, those are only wireless data-centric units, like a Treo. You look at 2005, and the numbers jump to 550,000 and they’re growing exponentially, so from under 300,000 to over 550,000 is exceptional growth, not just in the mobile computing environment, but in what they consider the converged market. Our Treo sits in that along with some other wireless devices, along with some PocketPC and some RIM devices, etc.

Pipeline: How are you approaching enterprise marketing?

MM: It’s pretty straight forward. Our products were always called Palm. We’re changing our company name and we’ll decide on what our branding strategy for our products are later in the summer. But today if you look at our products in terms of the enterprise we have a very clear product category that we’ve focused on that has become the enterprise workhorse, and that is the Tungsten brand. We also have the Treo brand, which is enterprise-focused as well and which is truly a converged smartphone device that is doing extremely well in the marketplace. I think enterprise is really driven by a robust device but also by solutions. We have a plethora of enterprise-class applications to enable your back end, whether it be an e-mail server or delivering sales force automation — we ve got applications, middleware and partners.

Pipeline: Do you have any specific goals in terms of increasing brand recognition?

MM: In terms of increasing brand recognition what we’re saying is we’re bringing this home. It’s something we’ve built on and it has been an asset for a long time and the fact we’re taking the Palm brand back just clarifies it and makes it much easier for us to invest in the brand and potentially the sub-brands. I think for a vast majority of customers there’s no change — they always thought we were Palm. For others who thought we were PalmOne this really simplifies things. In terms of specific numbers and goals we don’t share those externally, but it’s something we can sink our teeth into. We have invested somewhat in our brands but not a whole lot because it had changed quite a bit, but we had invested in things like Zire and Tungsten and Treo and what we’re saying now is we can build on the overall brand of the company and rebuild that under Palm and that will strengthen the entire market. That will strengthen the mobile computing market, our share, our brand awareness and it’s worth investing in now.

Pipeline: How are you approaching the Canadian market — are you using the same marketing or are you developing homegrown strategies for Canada?

MM: I’m responsible for Americas International which includes Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean. We’re going to execute on our brand strategy here from an advertising, promotion and co-marketing perspective to help build it. Those strategies and activities are different by market but the overall brand strategy in terms of what the logo looks like and in terms of our name are the same. That’s why we have a corporate brand. It’s no different than any other multinational company worldwide. How you act on those tactically in regions depends on the marketing and the advertising and the uniqueness of the market. If you look at what we’ve done we’ve brought this emblem back. It was blue before. We’ve now got a similar logo with a much more bright, vibrant colour.

Pipeline: How long does it typically take for consumers to recognize new logos and associate them with the vendor?

MM: It depends on the customer. I think in our case it’s very quick because many customers never left the name Palm. So it’s not like we’re starting from scratch, we now have a tremendous amount of brand equity and we’re now in a position since we have acquired that name to build on that. For customers as well, there’s no confusion. The other piece was Palm Source, which is the operating system side. They have up to two years to phase put the use of the name Palm in their products and two more years for other licensees they’ve licensed the name to to transition away from it.

Comment: pipeline@itbusiness.ca

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