Can the Palm brand bring developers and carriers to support the Nova OS?

Can the Palm brand bring developers and carriers to support the Nova OS?

Summary: I just posted some initial thoughts on the speculation surrounding Palm's CES 2009 announcement and then found a great post by Steve O'Hear over on his last100.com site that I recommend you check out. Steve brought out a couple of issues I was thinking about late last night and did not include in my initial post, namely the Palm brand, developer and carrier issues. Steve is pulling for Palm to make a comeback and as a long time fan of Palm (even though they keep disappointing me) I am too.

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Can the Palm brand bring developers and carriers to support the Nova OS?I just posted some initial thoughts on the speculation surrounding Palm's CES 2009 announcement and then found a great post by Steve O'Hear over on his last100.com site that I recommend you check out. Steve brought out a couple of issues I was thinking about late last night and did not include in my initial post, namely the Palm brand, developer and carrier issues. Steve is pulling for Palm to make a comeback and as a long time fan of Palm (even though they keep disappointing me) I am too.

A few years ago, if you had a mobile device in your hand the first question that always came out from a person was, "Is that a Palm Pilot?" That does not happen today and I am much more likely to hear a person ask if it is an iPhone or a BlackBerry. Palm was the king of the PDA in the old days and then with the revolutionary Palm Treo 600 they set the bar for smartphones and converged devices. The title was Palm's to lose and unfortunately, they did just that by being too stagnant in a market that was moving forward and looking for a device that brought more to the table than the Palm Treo (multimedia, enterprise support with Exchange or BlackBerry services, etc.). When Microsoft entered the PDA market with the Compaq iPaq back in 2000, I thought it was just another experiment by Microsoft that they would throw a lot of money into and then let die out when they found out they couldn't compete with Palm. I honestly did not think that the roles would be reversed so quickly between Palm and Microsoft, but Microsoft had a better product with a richer user experience. Palm devices also used to be rock solid and as the Treo 650 launched with other devices following, bugs and resets started to become way too common (matching the beta culture we have today with mobile devices).

Palm also went through a period of confusion for the consumer with splitting the OS and hardware divisions, then making two different companies, then selling the OS to another, then rebranding, and more events that should not have happened.

Despite all of this, I think the Palm brand is still quite strong (maybe even more so outside the world of enthusiasts and mobile device fanatics) and in 2009 Palm needs to take this branding back towards the top to succeed.

Steve also mentioned developers and back several years ago the Palm OS was king of 3rd party applications with something over 20,000 applications and thousands of developers madly churning out applications to support the platform. Windows Mobile and S60 now have thousands of applications, with the iPhone catching up as well, as developers have several choices in operating system for development. Developers are also now targeting the Android OS with Google's big money backing the venture and promoting development. I rarely see new software launched for the Palm OS and wonder if developers are ready to embrace and develop for a new OS from Palm given Palm's rather varied history over the last 5 years.

January 8, 2009 will be a turning point for Palm and I have to admit the announcement almost has me rearranging my schedule to attend CES. I will be following the news closely and hoping that Palm blows me away to start the new year and hopefully, new cycle of success for Palm.

Topics: Operating Systems, Hardware, Mobility, Software, Software Development

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  • Only one word... SAD

    As an early adopter of the "Palm Pilot" I was sad to see it go the way of the dodo bird. I have to tell you, I'm mildly interested in the new OS from Palm. But I also have an addendum. In their heyday, Palm was the onliest game in town. Today they have to best OSX (on iPhone), Android (on lotsa phones) and Windows Mobile 7 not to mention the Symbian wave to come and a few Linux distros.

    If they ain't coming to the party ready to dance, they might as well pack up and become that little asterisk on the mobile phone page. Especially if their form factor is the Centro. It's all over but looking for the fat lady.

    -- Dan
    Olderdan
  • People underestimate Palm

    This is not the first time the techno pundits have declared Palm's death. There was similar talk before the Treo came out. I'm not saying it isn't a long shot. Palm may have done themselves in this time.

    However there are a lot of people out there just like me. I remember the first time I held a Palm Vx in my hands; the first app I wrote for Palm; The first time I read "The Zen of Palm" and the revolution it represented for thinking and philosophy of mobile software development and use.

    As both a previous developer and user of Palm, I would love a reason to go back to Palm development and ownership. There is a catch. Palm had better be compelling. There are a lot of developers out there who feel hung out to dry by Palm. If Palm cannot produce something that is every bit the "mind blowing" experience Bell is claiming, then they will not win us back.

    Personally I am rooting for Palm. The question is, "Can they do it this time?"

    I don't know...
    shenku
  • Speaking as a Palm and Android developer...

    I've done some development on the Palm OS platform using Garnet and Eclipse, their IDE. Recently I bought a T-Mobile G1 phone and installed the Android SDK with Eclipse on my laptop. The differences are as dramatic as night and day.

    Android, based on Java, has a rich universe of classes that appear to be well thought-out, for the most part (there are a few head-scratchers, I've noticed). Palm's Garnet OS is based on C, and the API is a collection of specially named functions. The error messages are not helpful, and documentation on such messages is practically non-existent. (In fact, the only book I've seen on the Palm platform that even begins to catalog Palm OS error messages is Charles Tatum II's volume, "Write Your Own Palm Software", which I think is only available on Lulu.com).

    I was able to accomplish with Android in days what it took months to learn and master with the Palm OS. I must have searched dozens of sites on the World Wide Web trying to get help, tips, pointers, anything. Thankfully there are lots of Palm enthusiasts out there, because I was able to find enough of what I needed.

    What makes Android's platform so much better over Palm's is that doing screen layouts is a snap, and there are many options for it that free the developer up from having to worry about the mechanics of laying out controls. You can also include your own TrueType font files in an Android project to give your application its own look and feel, something that's much harder on the Palm platform. And Android's emulator and debugger actually works the way they're supposed to.

    If Palm wants to have a chance at winning back developers they're going to have to do more than roll out the Palm App Store (which another post on this blog announced). They're going to have to make it much easier to develop software for their platform. And they're going to have to have ways to make those applications more visually appealing and interesting. Right now, their Palm OS Development Suite (for Garnet) just doesn't cut it and the Access Linux Platform has yet to run on a single, commercially-available device.

    Palm isn't like Apple. Apple has Steve Jobs. Who's the visionary at Palm?
    chas_2
  • A fanatic fantasizing...

    I've used PalmOS constantly since PalmIII launched (still got it to play kyle's quest!) and loving it! it's simple, small apps make everything feel "snappy", and the battery life? hours of talktime + 100plus sms + 30 or so email over a weekend in a charge! Yeah, I'm nuts over Palm!.. then i look at the next guy's phone, and i feel.. monochrome. entry or enterprise model don't matter. Yet why do i stick it out? because it works, so do many people (deeeeep down inside), i believe still got that feeling towaeds Palm. I hope [people woeking in Palm,inc] would kick it, REAL SOON.
    scream2beam