Palm's Yankowski resigns, Benhamou takes the reins

Palm's Yankowski resigns, Benhamou takes the reins

Carl Yankowski has resigned as chief executive officer of Palm. Eric Benhamou, the company's chairman, will take over until a replacement is found. Palm has also announced that it has reached the last steps in an internal separation into two businesses.

Palm has been battered by the slow economy over the course of the year, which led to mounting inventories that have hurt the company financially. In addition, while its devices remain popular among consumers, Palm may not have nurtured the kind of applications and features that would have allowed it to boost its appeal in more profitable business markets, analysts said.

"Palm did very well with consumers, but they let the business side go soft," said Martin Reynolds, an analyst with Gartner. "Yankowski had a consumer focus, so this puts Palm back in a position to chase business users again."

The appointment of a new chairman could help the company refocus on the enterprise, which could mean new applications, services and technologies geared towards business users. Microsoft and its key Pocket PC partners, including Compaq Computer, have received positive reviews from enterprise customers and taken some of the limelight from Palm in this area.

Palm is made up of two business groups: the Solutions Group, which designs the Palm handheld line, and the Platform Solutions Group, which develops the Palm operating system and licenses it to other vendors. As part of the reorganisation plan, by the end of the year the Platform Solutions Group is expected to be an internal Palm subsidiary, operating independently.

The split into two groups has changed Yankowski's role and "no longer matches my aspirations", he said in a statement. Yankowski did not offer his future plans.

An executive council will oversee the company, with Benhamou leading that group until a new CEO is named, Palm said.

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