RealTime IT News

palmOne CFO Exits For SanDisk Role

Just days after unveiling two new handheld computers in its popular Zire line, palmOne Friday bid farewell to CFO and Senior Vice President Judy Bruner.

Bruner will leave the handheld maker June 18 after more than five years to take on the roles of executive vice president of administration and CFO of SanDisk , a maker of flash memory cards. She has served as a board member since July 2002 and replaces CFO Michael Gray. The company said that Gray would be transitioning "out of his current role as CFO at SanDisk."

In a statement, Eli Harari, president and CEO of SanDisk, praised the departing Gray's nine years work for the company.

"Michael was instrumental in taking SanDisk public, raising equity financing, increasing SanDisk's visibility in the investment community and growing the company from about $50M when he started to over $1B in 2003 revenues."

Philippe Morali, palmOne vice president of corporate development and treasury, will serve as palmOne's CFO in the interim while the Milpitas, Calif., company is searching for Bruner's successor.

Wishing Bruner well, Todd Bradley, palmOne president and chief executive officer, credited Bruner with guiding the company through its spin-off from 3Com, its initial public offering, and its recent acquisition of Handspring.

Bruner joined palmOne as senior VP and CFO in September 1999 after 11 years at 3Com, which spun off Palm Inc. in September 1999.

Palm became palmOne in October 2003 when it spun off PalmSource Inc., which develops the Palm operating system software, and acquired Handspring Inc.

palmOne went on to unite the Zire, Tungsten and Handpring Treo sub-brands to better compete against Microsoft, which is also battling for personal digital assistant (PDA) market share. However, as recent estimates attest, shipments are down for both companies, with Microsoft gaining a slight edge in OS share.

According to research concern Gartner, worldwide PDA shipments declined 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2004, but PalmSource and Microsoft were in a virtual tie in shipments in Q1 2004.

In preliminary estimates, Palm OS shipments declined by 20.7 percent in Q1 2004 compared with the same period last year. Palm OS market share slipped to 40.7 percent, while the Windows CE market share rose to 40.2 percent.

Todd Kort, principal analyst in Gartner's Computing Platforms Worldwide group, said the decline is not surprising because many Palm OS users have delayed PDA purchases until they can evaluate PalmSource's upcoming operating system Cobalt. Palm OS has also been impacted by Microsoft's popularity with developers and bundling of Outlook with every Pocket PC.

palmOne hopes its new handhelds, the Zire 31 and Zire 72, help elevate market share.

The Zire 31, retailing for $149, has a color screen and 16 megabytes of memory and includes an MP3 player and a photo viewer. The Zire 72, with 24 megabytes of memory, adds a built-in 1.2 mega pixel digital camera, Bluetooth technology and synchronization with Outlook.