Lifedrivedoc.com began as a place to talk about the Lifedrive. It soon became apparent that it was much more than that. Since moving on from my Lifedrive, I am engaged in more avenues of technology. That technology has intersected with my professional life - Medicine as well as my social life.

As noted above, the blog is about a lot of things in relation to technology. If you are looking for Lifedrive related material, I am currently dividing the blog so that those searches will be easy for you to find. Most of them will be pre 2007, that should help. Additionally, if you are looking for the links that used to be on the left border. They will be back up in a different format soon. I do enjoy reading about new things to do with the Lifedrive, so you can feel free to let me know about those. I will also post those on the site.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Editorial: A Bad Quarter or a Glass Half Full?

I think by now everyone has heard the news given by Palm Inc. The company reported revenue of $349.6 M with an earnings loss of ($0.09/shr), with much of it blamed upon Verizon not fully approving the Treo 755p. Worse, the company guided lower, expecting $310 M in revenue for the next quarter and a ($0.14/shr) loss in earnings, even worse than this quarter and worse than analysts expected.

I think that many may have looked at this quarter and said okay, it's a slip up, but not Palm's fault. But the problem becomes worse when you consider the quarter preceding this one was not so great either. In addition, the reported numbers are actually worse than what Palm had predicted. Additionally, there appear to be major problems that seem to continue to reoccur.

There is a possibility that with Elevation Partners now involved in the company, the company could be engaged in getting all of the bad news out as soon as possible. Some companies excel in doing this. If you get the bad news out for 2-3 quarters, then it's easier to make comparisons going forward. Next year, Palm would only have to break even ie. earn 0.00 cents/shr and this would be looked at as a great success, compared to this year. Amazon was notorious at doing this during the internet boom.

One can look at this with a grain of optimism and hope that the company is getting out all of the bad news as it develops its new Linux operating system. The Palm Centro, which is basically losing money for the company would appear to be doing what it is supposed to do: Get the Palm name out there to as many people as possible. If Palm can be seen as being Cool, that may play a very good role going forward. Add nothing too outlandish on the Centro and you leave the door wide open to introduce a basic Linux phone, without losing anything going forward and leading the way to a decent upward cycle.

So, was the $9 dividend (effectively pricing this stock at around $14), really given to appease the shareholders in the company? I would have thought that this kind of money could have been put to better use, such as R&D, without having to fire employees. Additionally, one would have thought that management would have known that the share price would drop in accordance with the dividend paid, laying the groundwork for the company to possibly fall to that disgusting $1.00/shr marker that can lead to delisting.

Questions Abound.

So, what is the word on the new operating system? Will an SDK be released so that high profile companies and hobbyists alike can get a handle on the system before it comes out?

The obvious question as to whether this company really understands that other companies have caught up to them is still not known. Mr. Colligan believes that people are still clamoring for a Smartphone. He may be right, but they seem to be migrating to the Blackberry and Symbian solutions.

More confusing is the following turn of events over the past few years:

1. Divide the company into a software/OS and hardware component.
2. Buy back the Software/OS component.
3. Sell the Software/OS component.
4. Start a new Software/OS component to complement the Hardware development team.

5. Advertise and announce future OS6.
6. Give presentation showing OS6.
7. Never release OS6.

8. Announce the Palm Foleo.
9. Advertise the Palm Foleo.
10. Spend millions announcing Palm will not release the Palm Foleo due to .......OS5.

11. Call for funding from High Profile partner.
12. Give most of the funding as a dividend ???????

I have to be honest. I don't get it! I really love this company. But I just don't get it! I am not a business major and that's probably why I don't get it, but a lot of money appears to have been wasted.

The Future?

In addition to the above, the fun of the Palm device seems to be waning. People are now looking at the SDK in January from Apple as some sort of Holy Grail. If it comes out and suggests significant ease of use, particularly if the company integrates Widgets into the device and/or there is significant migration from companies such as HandBase, Dataviz or Mobisystems then I am afraid that this could be lights out for Palm.

If you look down a few articles where I wrote about the SDK for Apple, you will see a response from a very unlikely source --- EPOCRATES. They are salivating at the chance to get the Apple SDK and will probably put out an Apple version of the program within months of the release of the SDK......While we continue to wait on Palm Linux!

I am not certain if management is looking at the competition, but getting two past Apple executives is a start in the right direction, but just making your phones/devices look good may not be the only solution. You still have to answer to your core audience. Design is still a major solution though and would probably be welcomed in the "real" Treo line.

The Future of A New Machine?

I was discussing this situation with a few physicians today and we began thinking about whether Palm is setting itself up to be taken over? We thought about a likely suitor being Apple, with the two Apple executives already on board. It would seem a good fit, but there would be questions about syncing with Windows and Apple. We then thought about whether Mr. Colligan, in his glowing accolades aimed at the two Apple executives, given during the latest earnings report, may be stepping down and going back to doing what he has done so well - hardware development? Handspring made brilliant devices, but unfortunately ran into financial difficulties, not so different from what we are seeing today. It could be that the strong points of Mr. Colligan and Mr. Hawkins are more related to development. Could the Apple boys take over the company? We then thought about the unthinkable! A Microsoft buyout! That would probably be the worst thing of all! It would be the final nail in the coffin. Don't get me wrong, I like Microsoft, but the Windows CE system is cumbersome and slow. With the exception of the Lifedrive, when I turn on a Palm Device, it is just "Turn on and Go." I would really miss that. In addition, it would really spell the end of an era.

What is known right now is that Palm needs to make a change and the fact that the company is involved in a major turnaround may be interrupted if the competition delivers the fatal blow leading to a cry of "too little, too late." I will be watching the Apple SDK in January/February, I really think that this may be a telling factor. But I am "addicted" to the Palm OS and would like to continue to use it more out of loyalty and love, but also because it just works.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lifedrive II: Oh What might have been!

I had the opportunity to peruse a few web sites looking for Lifedrive information and ran into PDA24/7. They held a competition a while ago, requesting input as to what the Lifedrive II would look like. The winning entry is remarkable.

Shaun McGill who runs the site has been a fantastic contributor to the Palm lifestyle and really ran a fantastic contest. The winner Peenut really captured the imagination of many of us. This would have been a great device. Who knows, perhaps with Linux, we may still see it come to fruition.

Pop over to Shaun's 24/7 site, you will not be disappointed. Meanwhile salivate at what might have been:

Image from www.clieuk.co.uk/forum and PDA 24/7.

Click on title to take you to the original page and to view much higher resolution pictures of this masterpiece. Remember, these are renditions and not real, as far as we know.