Should Palm drop their Linux plans and embrace Android?

Should Palm drop their Linux plans and embrace Android?

Summary: While browsing for mobile news and reviews this morning I came across a Fortune article that I thought had some very valid points and was an interesting read. The Why Palm Needs Android article makes the case for three reasons why Palm should consider the Android OS on future devices rather than rolling out its own Linux operating system sometime in the future. I think Palm should at least consider the idea, especially since their revenues keep going down.

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Should Palm drop their Linux plans and embrace Android?While browsing for mobile news and reviews this morning I came across a Fortune article that I thought had some very valid points and was an interesting read. The Why Palm Needs Android article makes the case for three reasons why Palm should consider the Android OS on future devices rather than rolling out its own Linux operating system sometime in the future. I think Palm should at least consider the idea, especially since their revenues keep going down.

I started out using Palm OS devices back in 1997 and have always felt a bit of loyalty to Palm. However, I have also been quite frustrated with them over the years for a number of reasons. I had the Sony CLIE UX50 back in 2004 when I heard about the upcoming Palm OS 6 (aka Cobalt) operating system update that would be coming at the end of the year. As we all know, Cobalt never materialized on any device and Palm OS 5 is still used on Palm OS devices today, despite being announced in 2002. Then in late 2004 we were told that a Linux version of the OS would be offered with Palm OS Garnet (5.x) and Cobalt also being part of the offerings. That strategy was changed when Cobalt didn't come in 2005 and then PalmSource was acquired by ACCESS. Thus ALP (ACCESS Linux Platform) was the new proposed OS announced in February 2006 with devices supposed to launch in 2007. This still has not happened. The latest news is that Palm is going to go the Linux route themselves. This announcement came in late 2007 with initial estimates having the OS ready for manufacturers before the end of 2008. That estimate has now been pushed back a couple of times to late 2009 and given the history of any OS updates coming from Palm I am not convinced we will ever see this either.

The name Palm used to be synonymous with a PDA and if anyone saw a device in your hand they asked, "Is that a Palm Pilot?" This question has now been replaced with, "Is that an iPhone?" and I rarely hear people mention the name Palm like they used to. I am still a bit amazed at how fast Palm fell when Microsoft entered the market with their Pocket PC OS and have to admit I thought Microsoft would have a tougher time passing up Palm given that Palm had such a popular brand. It really is a shame to see the Palm brand lose so much over time and even though there are solid devices coming out from them, primarily based on the Windows Mobile OS (who would have ever though this would happen back in 2005?), Palm seems to be a ship underway without a clear direction.

There is quite a bit of excitement surrounding the T-Mobile G1 and the Android OS from Google that is coming later this month. Palm could capitalize on this excitement around the open platform and release a Treo based on Android that I think would be pretty awesome. However, as stated in the Fortune article, Palm has spent time and money working on this new Linux OS and dropping it may be a tough pill to swallow. This is compounded by the fact they already dropped a device, the Foleo, right before its release and took quite a hit with that endeavor.

There are still quite a few Palm OS fans, but given the open nature of Android I would think that developers (maybe even the StyleTap guys) could come up with a Palm OS emulator so that loyal fans could still run Palm OS applications on the Android platform. I run Palm OS now on my Nokia N800/N810 with the Garnet VM application.

Do you think Palm should launch an Android Treo rather than continue to pursue their own Linux OS?

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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17 comments
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  • No brainer

    Why wouldn't they. since the OS is at the "I want it" level, the Treo's are robust devices, than they can sell phones lower than $100 on the market. Imagine a Centrino running Android. The price of the phone would either be $49 or free with contract.
    Maarek
  • RE: Should Palm drop their Linux plans and embrace Android?

    I have a Palm Centro running Palm OS5... I replaced my Windows Mobile device with it. It is a 6 year old OS and still works better than Windows Mobile... why not just update the Palm OS? Why does it need to be based on Linux? Add a new user interface to the existing Palm OS, add a massive amount of storage...say 60GB and sell them for $150 to BURY the iPhone.. The Centro is the most solid smartphone I have ever owned by a mile. It doesn't need restarts, everything is fast... I wish for more storage and a better web browser that uses flash...
    notlehs
    • I agree, updated Palm OS would be just fine

      I think Palm could do a lot with upgrading the Palm OS. It already has the iPhone look and feel with application shortcuts on a "Home" screen and I think Palm could really optimize it even more for a better touch experience. The Palm OS is fine for many things and just falls flat in a couple areas (web browser is pretty poor) and if they spent a little bit of time fixing and improving what already works pretty well they may please the Palm loyal fans and also bring others back to Palm.

      Why do companies always feel they have to drastically change things and why do they feel Linux is the answer?
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
  • I Love PalmOs

    Since i got mi first palm device. (A treo 90. WOW!!!) i fall in love with the PalmOS.

    Then i started giving palms as presents for all my family, from Treo 270, Treo 300, Treo 600 and 650. (recently i give my old T90 to my 9 years old son, only for play BounceOut). Even a couple of Clies and Tungstens pased for my hands.

    I was very exited when my new IPaq arrived, but, wath piece of crap! It was slow, full of bugs an constantly need to reboot. Thus this i never buy a Treo 700.

    Over the years, Windows Mobile was growing and getting better. The latest HTC devices i test looks great and their performance is impresive.

    But nothing compares with the easy of use and full of features Treo 650. I??m tinking on buying a Centro, but i was waiting for a PalmOs update.
    raphael.munoz@...
  • Not a bad idea really. But, still you have the problem with the carriers

    refusing to support Android. T-Mobile is the only one biting for now. I would love to see legislation forcing carriers to permit compatible phones. What if Comcast were to ONLY allow their internet services to be used through computers purchased at Comcast?????
    DonnieBoy
  • What I loved about Palm, was the desktop software

    That thing let me enter data into my Palm from my PC. When I got a Windows Mobile 5 device I was disappointed tho find that most of its software was only accessible from the device itself. If I wanted to add contacts or edit my calendar I had to either sync with office (that means buying $500 of software I don't need), or enter it directly on the device.

    Not being able to use a full sized screen and keyboard for data entry pretty much killed my interest in PDA's and smart phones. There is nothing smart about carpel tunnel and near sightedness.
    T1Oracle
  • RE: Should Palm drop their Linux plans and embrace Android?

    Palm should port their clean and efficient PDA interface (calendar, task list, etc.) to native Android, and bundle the excellent Garnet emulator (already on Nokia tablets) for access to the huge stock of legacy Palm apps. They need bundling deals with the carriers, and well as giving the bundle away free to any Android user.

    To monetize the investment, sell sync software for Microsoft Exchange / Office for $29 (Windows users are used to paying), and either partner with Facebook or set up an independent cloud to enable users to sync up personal info with friends and family, funded by a share of related Google ad revenue.

    Introduce an unlocked Android Palm Centro early next year. Profit!

    Not that Palm's management is even vaguely capable of pulling this off, of course...
    ricegf
  • Palms vs. Windows Mobile powered units

    Where I work we stopped carrying the Windows Mobile devices in store. We can order them for folks but the Palms for years have been constant better sellers with a much more reliable OS.<br><br>I would like to know what is happening with Palm though we've had the same three Palm PDA's for a couple of years now. It's like they only care about the Treo anymore........I want the Sharp Zarus back (at a better price point) :)
    devlin_X
  • RE: What's so cool about Android?

    I too had a Palm Pilot back in 1997 or so. After having a Palm III, I jumped ship to a WinMo device (network sync to Exchange was what I needed!).

    I always liked Palm's zen mantra and easy to use interface. I expected WinMo to get there. But they didn't.

    At this point, I'd rather have something I can carry around easily, have fun with, connect when *I* want to and even make VoIP phone calls over WiFi. I don't care what operating system it uses.

    Do you hear me? I DON'T CARE!

    Dan
    Olderdan
    • It appears to me you do care...

      You obviously care about features. One OS may offer something that the other may not. People get far to caught up in thinking the OS choice is about names.
      storm14k
  • RE: Should Palm drop their Linux plans and embrace Android?

    Re: What's so cool about Android?

    A Palm in the hand is worth two in the Bush. The Palm O.S. works just fine and doesn't require more bells and whistles to prove that.
    Graeme
    WELLSHOTTwellshott
  • RE: No !

    Android is the only mobile OS I havn't used yet. All that I've tried have their good points and their drawbacks. All have inprooved over the years, thanks to competition. The more different systems we have today, better will be our mobile devices tomorrow.
    mike@...
  • No, just update the Palm OS

    I am on my 3rd Palm Device, a Treo 680, that I got in Dec 2004, since I was already on Cingular (ATT).

    If they would just make the browser a little better and allow multi-tasking between even two apps, I would be happier. Still, I just use the browser when I am traveling and want to Google something without searching for a phone book. I have the Google Maps installed and it's handy, also. All of the other apps sync just fine with my Mac apps (have to use "Missing Sync for Palm OS", it works great). I play SolFree when I am killing time waiting somewhere. The Palm OS is solid and I never have crash like so many Win Mobile users report.
    dinosaur_z
  • I say yes

    I like Palm and had a Treo for a while. I had problems with it but I still liked the Palm OS over WinMo. Now I say go ahead and take the devices to the next level. Palm is moving to a Linux base so why not just take Android and get a huge head start. They can customize the UI to maintain their normal look but update it to match the current trends. Its a win win in my book and I'd be ready to purchase another palm device running Android.
    storm14k
  • RE: Should Palm drop their Linux plans and embrace Android?

    Yes! Palm needs to stop stepping forward and should RUN into the future with Android and its community of developers and apps. Palm should have its own N810 device running android. If they do I am a buyer on the spot. I have not liked palm because it is clumsy to develop for and android would be a move in the right direction.
    scott.damery@...
  • RE: Should Palm drop their Linux plans and embrace Android?

    I'd say so, but I think they already fell for Windows Mobile entirely anyway...?;-)
    catmedia
  • RE: Should Palm drop their Linux plans and embrace Android?

    Yes, I have had almost every Palm Device since the begining. Palm Pilot, Hand Spring, Kyocera Palm Flip Phone, almost all the Treos to my present Treo 650. I am a loyal customer but there has been slow progress since its inception. I believe they dropped the ball to many times and will die a slow death. They need to do something radical quickly, or soon i will jump ship to the iPhone.
    nrlogic