I received an invite and follow-up phone call from Palm last week inviting me to a special event to be held at CES in Las Vegas in January. Last year when Palm brought people to an off site location, they showed off different color Palm Centro devices and this disappointed most all journalists who attended. Thus, there is a bit of doubt about what Palm will show this year. They are generating a lot of buzz and according to Business Week Palm will actually reveal the Nova Linux operating system that they have been working on for years. I think Nova needs to be the subject of their announcement and anything less will probably mean Palm will be irrelevant in the mobile space moving forward.
The Palm Nova OS has been under development for something like three years and given that we now have a market full of the Mac OS X (iPhone), Android, S60, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry devices Palm is going to have to show off something fantastic that will get people to switch back to Palm. Windows Mobile implementation was a good move for Palm and was necessary to allow them to continue in the market since the Palm OS was aging without any successor. I know there are still people using the Palm OS and the Centro has been doing quite well for those moving from a feature phone, but it isn't a powerhouse OS that can compete with all of these latest devices.
The Nova OS devices are supposed to bridge the gap between the iPhone and BlackBerry, but I am not sure exactly what that means now that the iPhone is supporting the enterprise market with Exchange ActiveSync support and BlackBerry devices are very appealing to consumers with the Pearl, Curve, Bold, and Storm. Windows Mobile seems to already bridge that gap too with outstanding enterprise support and very good consumer appeal with multimedia functionality. S60 give you enterprise support too and has even better multimedia creation functionality than any other OS. The latest smartphone figures from Gartner show that the Palm OS has a low 2.1% of the worldwide market share and has gone from the leader to the bottom in a few years.
I still have a place in my heart for Palm since my first PDA was a Palm device and I do hope they announce something amazing at CES. We'll have to wait and see what happens on January 8th.