May 2, 2002 6:30 AM PDT

Palm names hardware chief

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Palm on Thursday named a new president of its hardware unit in what is likely a sign that the handheld maker is getting closer to formally separating that division from its operating system group.

Todd Bradley will take over the day-to-day operations at the Palm Solutions Group, overseeing the company's handheld computer hardware; software such as enterprise e-mail applications; and add-ons such as keyboards and expansion cards.

Palm is still searching for a permanent CEO for the solutions unit, and Bradley has been seen as a candidate for that post. A Palm representative said that Bradley's promotion to president is not intended to signal whether he will or won't get that position.

Bradley, a former Gateway executive, has served as chief operating officer of the group and will retain that role, Palm said.

"We're building the management bench strength we need to support the eventual external separation of our two Palm businesses," interim Chief Executive Eric Benhamou said in a statement, referring to previously announced plans to spin off PalmSource, the company's operating system subsidiary, and create two independent businesses.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company did not give any more details on the timing of the split.

Palm was once the undisputed king of the handheld market, but it has grappled with slow sales and inventory problems.

The company managed to post a profit of $2.9 million, or 1 cent per share, for the quarter ended March 1, topping some analysts' estimates. In that quarter, its PalmSource subsidiary, which develops and licenses the Palm operating system, recorded revenue of $19.5 million, although $11.7 million of that came from Palm itself. As a standalone business, the company said the operating system unit had a pro forma loss of about $1 million.

Benhamou said in March that it was likely that both the hardware and operating system units would become profitable.

Palm separated the hardware and software businesses last year, bringing in former AT&T Chief Technology Officer David Nagel to run the PalmSource unit.

News.com's Ian Fried contributed to this report.

 

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