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Friday, July 08, 2005

Pocket PC Thoughts - Daily News, Views, Rants and Raves

Pocket PC Thoughts - Daily News, Views, Rants and Raves

PalmOS Is Dead
Posted by Ed Hansberry @ 06:00 AM
PalmOS, as we know it, is dead. We reported last week that PalmSource had halted all non-Linux development, but at the time I didn't fully grasp what that meant. I am still not sure I do, but after thinking about it for a few days and reading additional reports, it is clear to me that the operating system we are all familiar with, the one that is for personal information management, portable computing and wireless connectivity is dead.


PalmSource is focusing entirely on a flavor of PalmOS for Linux, but they are also working on feature phones with the help of their China MobileSoft acquisition, those phones that, while they have a lot of smartphone-style features, are essentially locked. Beyond ringtones and backgrounds, you can't just pop over to Handango and download software for it. What you get out of the box is what you live with. I am sure PalmSource will give it as much a look and feel of the classic PalmOS UI, but for most of us, that just won't be the same. They are targeting this OS to be complete in Q3 of 2006, which means it will be early to mid 2007 before the first phones start shipping. I fully expect this will be what LG will do as a new PalmSource licensee. I am not expecting a new Treo competitor from LG.

Once PalmSource gets the feature phone OS out of the door they will wrap up the full blown OS that everyone has assumed will be some powerful 32bit multitasking OS sitting on top of Linux. However, that will be 2007 at the earliest, so you could be looking at 2008 before devices would be ready to ship. 2008! Shocked Will anyone care by then? You have Palm aficionados that could be in serious jeopardy hoping their current device lasts that long!

Meanwhile, you have pa1mOne, soon to be just Palm, creating the latest revision of FrankenGarnet which seems to get more unstable with each release and causes more headaches for developers as pa1mOne is notorious for not cluing people in on what changed. I thought it was an eternity waiting almost two years between the release of Pocket PC 2002 and Pocket PC 2003. I couldn't imagine using an OS in 2007 that was hatched in 2002. Between technologies like wireless USB, 802.11n, EDGE, EVDO, over the air video and stuff I haven't even heard of yet, there will just be too many things that a five year old OS can't handle. A perfect example is Skype. There is still no version of Skype for PalmOS. Garnet just can't handle it. Ten months after Skype for PalmOS was just around the corner you can't hardly find the word "Palm" on the Skype site. I would argue there were mobile technologies in 2002 that Garnet, also known as PalmOS5, couldn't handle, but I digress. Wink

You think pa1mOne will wait until 2007 or 2008 for a new OS? Or do you think there might be a Palm device in your future, running Windows Mobile? I see the latter as far more likely to happen versus seeing FrankenGarnet 5.99999.

Michael Mace, the former PalmSource Chief Competitive Officer, was terminated. Chris Dumphy is no longer there, along with 16% of the workforce. PalmSource itself isn't dead. Far from it. But it is now no more than an embedded operating system maker that will fade from the consumer's memory faster than "New Coke!"

For years, Microsoft has seen its major threat as Nokia - years before even that article. It was pretty clear once the original iPAQ 3600 was released and Palm kept fumbling the ball on great features that Palm simply didn't have the internal resources to move the aging platform that ran on a Kadak provided kernel to a full blown operating system that could hope to do what devices based on Windows CE were capable of. Even Sony couldn't stem the inevitable decline of PalmOS's market share.

When someone has a monopoly people scream that without competition the consumer loses. Well, in general I agree. Don't worry though. Microsoft's toughest opponent in the mobile computing hand-space isn't Palm. It hasn't been since 2001. Microsoft has been shooting over their head at Nokia. Don't look for stagnation anytime soon. Very Happy Oh yeah, don't look for a Palm revival anytime soon either. Laughing

I guess I will have to re-evaluate what I use "The Competition" forum for. I am by far the most prolific poster of new items in here and most of those are about Palm. I probably need to get up to speed on what Nokia is doing with Symbian. Doesn't mean I will never post about Palm again. Come on! There is just too much fun in it. Wink But in all honesty, it just isn't serious competition for the Windows Mobile platform.


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