Palm hires former Apple engineer in attempt to respond to iPhone

“Palm Inc., the maker of hand-held computers, has hired a top Silicon Valley software designer as it seeks to respond to the challenge posed by Apple’s new iPhone,” John Markoff reports for The New York Times.

“The designer, Paul Mercer, a former Apple computer engineer, began work three weeks ago at Palm on a line of new products, a company spokeswoman said, but she declined to comment further on the project,” Markoff reports.

Markoff reports, “Mr. Mercer, 39, joined Palm with two employees from Iventor, the independent design firm that he headed in Palo Alto, Calif., but Palm did not acquire the company, said the spokeswoman, Marlene Somsak. Palm is based in nearby Sunnyvale.”

Markoff reports, “Apple’s iPhone is still several months away from being available, but its flexible interface is already shaking up the cellphone industry, including Palm, which makes the hybrid phone-organizers known as smart phones.”

Markoff continues, “Mr. Mercer, a college dropout, joined Apple in 1987. While there, he was the lead designer of Version 7 of the Macintosh finder, the operating system’s graphical desktop. He later founded Pixo, a software tools firm that created a development system used by Apple software designers to conceive the first version of the user interface for the iPod music player.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Bill C.” for the heads up.]
First of all: the top Silicon Valley software designers work for Apple Inc.

Now, you know how cartoon characters run furiously in place just before they get smacked by the huge boulder? ‘Nuff said.

Palm: way too late and way too little. Say “hello” to the Morgan Stanley guys you see in the halls, Mr. Mercer (and cash those Palm checks immediately).

Related articles:
Palm hires Morgan Stanley to explore sale – March 05, 2007
The once-mighty Palm Inc. doomed to decline and failure – thanks to Apple’s iPhone – February 23, 2007
Analysts: time is right for Palm sale – February 20, 2007
Palm CEO can’t stop talking about Apple iPhone – February 19, 2007
Palm CEO: ‘We don’t want to follow design fads’; Nokia CEO challenges Apple over iPhone – February 13, 2007
Apple ‘iPhone’ could cause Nokia, Palm, Motorola, and RIM to really start to sweat – December 07, 2006
Palm CEO laughs off Apple ‘iPhone’ threat – November 20, 2006


  1. A flexible interface isn’t what makes the iPhone so good, anyone can make an interface flexible. At least in terms of the actual layout, it’s the fact that they’ve actually thought it out rather than showing a load of icons on the screen that makes it so good. They typical phone is just a load of options under which you have a load more options, each of which have more options, none of which you are sure is the one you want.

  2. I have really enjoyed using my Treo for the last 3 years and it still works well today bar the reducing battery life. It synks 1500 addresses OK, but only business or home and not both.

    Looks like Palm won’t be getting my upgrade though! iPhone it is.

  3. Palm is a dead duck.

    The pda market died out years ago.

    Palm will be another company, like Dell that is gonna go because they have not moved forward fast enough to compete and offer nothing new.

    Palm should have done this 5 years ago at least.

  4. Palm is a little late trying to modernize their OS.

    The Palm OS has essentially been in stasis since 1997. Adding color is the only big feature they added, which was really only a cosmetic enhancement. It wasn’t until last year that any Palms had more than 16MB (or 32MB?) of RAM.

    As far as phones go, the Treo’s suck. And Palm didn’t invent even them, they were an acquisition!

    I’ve been using Palms for 10 years, but they wasted their POTENTIAL and market lead by being tossed around between companies as an investment.

    A shame.

  5. Condolences Palm, but its too little too late, especially combined with the limp wristed support you gave to your Macintosh oriented consumers over the years, combined with the whole-hearted plunge into bed with MS Windows CE and all that miasma. You’re a really sick company, and I don’t mean perverted, I mean sick, like on death’s-door sick. You coulda-shoulda been taking SJ out to lunch everyday trying to convince him that your hardware was made to be the next OS X platform, but you got a few free laptops from Dell, and a bunch free stuff directly from MS, probably some cash in there too huh, and now its just too damn late. Its a rotten shame ’cause I really liked you guys, but now your just history living out of time.

    Bye bye… sniff.

  6. So when His Steveness said years ago that Apple was not interested in building a PDA, he was certainly telling the truth. The iPhone is no mere PDA!

    How was that for throwing the pack off your scent?

  7. Palm had their chance when Steve Jobs wanted to buy them when he came back to Apple. Just imagine if that happened though. The iPhone would have came out a long time ago but would it have been as good as today’s iPhone? The iPod has helped Apple conceive a better iPhone so I’m actually glad it’s here now instead.

    Palm is going to need to switch to Windows Mobile exclusively and end up like any other hardware vendor. A slave to Microsoft and cut throat price wars with same OS running competitors which will eventually drive it out of business.

    The only hope for Palm is to get off Windows Mobile, create a NEW OS, sign up developers, make it fully compatible with Windows and Macs, High speed Internet 3G, Enterprise level e-mail connectivity, and everything the iPhone can do. Plus an exclusive contract with Verizon Wireless.

    Paul Mercer and his team can make this happen in maybe 2014? =)

  8. Yeah I’ve used a Treo for years, always upgrading to the latest model, but the company absolutely stopped doing anything interesting years ago. Now they have this giant clunky form factor, more than twice as thick as other phones, and no innovative software in years. Dead on the vine. I can’t wait to get rid of this brick for good and move to iPhone — even if it means moving to crappy Cingular.

  9. The Palm Treo 680 form factor is interesting, but if it is as unreliable as the 700p that I already own and there is no reason why it shouldn’t then iPhone here I come. Even as my wife complains of how much it is going to cost to cancel my current contract with Sprint…

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