Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 1/6/2004A classic news day. We pick up a rumour in the morning that Sony is going to pull out of the PDA market in the US -- but our French cousins are ahead of us and have already found someone who not only confirms this but says that the tactical withdrawal is going to be in Europe as well.

Tuesday 1/6/2004
A classic news day. We pick up a rumour in the morning that Sony is going to pull out of the PDA market in the US -- but our French cousins are ahead of us and have already found someone who not only confirms this but says that the tactical withdrawal is going to be in Europe as well. Only Japan will continue to get new Clies: the French newsdesk phones PalmSource to get their reaction, but -- helas! -- find out that PalmSource had no idea that Sony was about to do any such thing. As Sony is (well, was) PalmSource's best hope of keeping PalmOS alive as an independent operating system away from the Palm platform itself, the reaction that was forthcoming was more forceful and less considered than one normally expects. When was the last time you heard a company go on the record and say "this is very bad news for us"? The way things normally work, you call up a company with a product that's just been shown to hunt down and decapitate grandmothers and get "we are very excited by the new marketing opportunities that this presents".

Later on, the company recovers its poise. Sony was never that important, it says. Small slice of revenues. Big challenge is smartphones, where elegance and single-minded task-based approach counts for loads more than shoehorning in a shrunken PC. PalmOS excellently positioned to take advantage of that space.

Who are we to say that this will not be so? But that first, unguarded and somewhat emotional reaction was so rare and precious in this world of carefully worded, dutifully guarded and perfectly spun press blather that we will cherish it for some time. And no, PalmOS really doesn't need Sony that much -- but it does need some good breaks, and soon, if it's going to withstand the Redmond whirlwind.

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