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Apple movie marketeer joins Palm

PowerBook product placement

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Palm yesterday announced a number of senior appointments yesterday, but one of the most interesting selections was Satjiv Cahil as Palm's chief marketing officer. As almost all of the newswires have pointed out, Cahil is an ex-Apple marketing staffer. He's also a former Sony employee, and with Sony already an official PalmOS licensee and Apple known to be working "very closely" with Palm (according to CEO Steve Jobs), the wires have been trying to interpret Cahil's appointment as a sign of the tight synergy between the three companies. That's stretching the point. Sikh Cahil comes to Palm from Newbridge Networks and hasn't had anything to do with Apple for quite some time. Cahil was identified early on as a member of then CEO Gil Amelio camp, and quit the company not long after Amelio was ousted by Steve Jobs and his NeXT crew. Cahil was behind Apple's drive to get its kit starring roles in major movies, most notably Independence Day and Mission Impossible. It was a canny move that gave Apple and its PowerBook line a high profile. The snag was the terrible build quality of PowerBooks at the time, which rather pulled the rug from under the campaign's feet. Incidentally, Apple's PowerBook also makes numerous appearances in The Saint. Simon Templar (aka Val Kilmer) uses the ill-fated Copland OS' Techno desktop theme (one of several Apple said the then upcoming operating system would contain). In the event, the theme was never released - its survives only in the Techno system font that currently ships with MacOS 8/9 - implying that the Saint's PowerBook was on the only machine outside Apple labs to be powered by Copland. Palm should be able to profit rather better from Cahil's Hollywood connections, particularly in promoting the Palm platform to a wider, more mainstream audience than the suits the company has been targeting to date. Palm CEO Carl Jankowski will have to keep an eye on his be-turbanned colleague, however, who was criticised by a number of fellow Apple staffers as being more interested in hob-nobbing with the stars than promoting his company's products. Sour grapes? Perhaps, but Cahil has been heard engaged in 'me and my old mate Tom Cruise' conversation (by this reporter, for one). In any case, Cahil did raise Apple's profile, which is, when all is said and done, exactly what marketing is all about. Joining Palm alongside Cahil is ex-Disney executive Barry Cottle - no relation, we assume, to the famous circus-owning family - as chief operating officer, and Doug Solomon (another one-time Apple dude) as chief strategy officer. William Maggs comes over from Inktomi to become chief technical officer. ®

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