Monday, January 22, 2007

Mobility Device Gives Palm OS A New, Robust Life

Banner Ad photo from Janam Technologies website. Image Credit: Janam Technologies LLC

Mobility Device Gives Palm OS A New, Robust Life

Last week, on the floor of the National Retail Federation's "Big Show 2007", a company was displaying a new mobility data collection device designed to bring the next version of the Palm OS operating system into the retail marketplace in an upgraded, more robust way.

What makes this noteworthy is that there have been a few changes in the data collection market niche and these changes had put the Palm OS operating system in jeopardy of being orphaned or even left behind. The original company that had developed the Palm Pilot and Palm operating system software was sold to another company in Japan and one of the largest manufacturers of data collectors, Symbol Technologies, did not have its licensing agreement to use the Palm OS software extended or renewed. To complicate matters, Symbol Technologies was also purchased by one of the largest manufacturers of communications equipment and phones in the world, Motorola.

Symbol Technologies was having to walk away from a market that they had established through first placing pedestrian PDA technology in data collection environments, then making the PDA with its Palm OS more robust and capable to handle a greater number of tasks. A massive number of these devices were placed in the field without a plan to continue to improve or integrate technologies as they became available.

A couple of former Symbol employees recognized that this niche, the Palm OS PDA-based data collector niche, might end up on the side of the road with a bunch of satisfied customers not having a place to go to find a current "next version". Enter Janam Technologies LLC - a new start-up company that announces "Migration is now as easy as it was meant to be".

Close-up of XP30 Series QVGA Color screen. Image Credit: Janam Technologies LLC

Excerpts from a news item found at PDAsNEWS -

Janam Technologies and PalmSource Announce Five-Year Agreement
By Dimitris S. - Published on 11/9/2006

Janam Technologies LLC, a provider of rugged mobile computers that scan barcodes, and ACCESS Systems Americas, Inc., a member of the ACCESS CO., LTD., group of companies, today announced a licensing agreement that enables Janam to develop and sell application-specific mobile computers based on the latest version of ACCESS' Palm OS Garnet until 2011. In addition, Janam today announced its rugged, barcode-scanning, PDA-format mobile computers that will offer all the winning features of Palm OS Garnet, while still supporting barcode-scanning applications written for earlier versions of Palm OS. More than 40 million Palm Powered mobile phones, handhelds, and other mobile devices have been sold worldwide. With over 29,000 Palm OS application software titles available today, the Palm OS platform offers one of the largest third-party software catalogs to enable users to customize their Palm Powered smart mobile devices to fit particular needs.

"This is a story of investment protection," said Harry B. Lerner, Co-CEO of Janam. "Value-added resellers and their customers who have invested millions of dollars over the last 10 years in barcode-scanning applications for the durable Palm OS platform will now have cutting-edge hardware to which they can migrate their existing applications effortlessly, while adding newer functionality that further extends their solutions."
Janam’s XP Series rugged mobile computers combine the benefits of the Palm OS® Garnet™, including long battery life, a simple development environment and overall system stability, with the advanced technical features found in typical industrial mobile computers that run on alternative operating systems, in a much smaller and lighter package - all for up to half the list price.

XP20 Series features a Monotone screen, 266MHz CPU, PDA and Numeric keyboards, Batch or WLAN, 1D symbology scanner only. Image Credit: Janam Technologies LLC

The XP20 Series features a custom, "bright white", 160 x 160, monochrome display that was developed to provide continuity with today’s Palm OS® industrial mobile computers.

XP30 Series features a QVGA Color screen, 266MHz CPU, PDA and Numeric keyboards, Batch or WLAN, choice of 1D scanner or 2D imager scanner. Image Credit: Janam Technologies LLC

The XP30 Series adds a color, quarter-VGA display and Bluetooth as standard.

Hand Held Products' tiny 5000 series image engine is a revolutionary combination of a digital camera, illumination optics, and aiming optics. Devices powered by Adaptus Imaging allow you to capture signatures, take photos, read virtually all bar codes - even damaged codes - and so much more. Best of all, it allows you to tackle emerging applications with confidence - protecting your investment well into the future. Image Credit: Hand Held Products

All XP Series products offer a 2D barcode scanning option [not supported by distributor documentation - All XP20 Series products are offered with 1D scanner only / All XP30 Series products are offered with a choice of 1D or 2D scan engines], meet IP54 sealing requirements, withstand drops to concrete from 4'/1.2m and weigh less than 10 ounces. The XP Series will be the world's first, rugged, mobile computer that combines Palm OS Garnet (version 5.4), numeric keypad option, user-accessible memory, NAND flash memory backup, USB connectivity, double capacity battery option and, in WLAN versions, WiFi Protected Access (WPA) wireless security.

With easy management of accessories in mind, Janam will also offer a single-slot charging/synching cradle, four-slot charging/synching cradle, USB synching/charging cable and attachable magnetic stripe reader (MSR) that works with all XP Series mobile computers.

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Also, these excerpts and reflections from VARBusiness -

Symbol Bids Adieu To Palm, Start-up Seeks To Fill Void
By Shelley Solheim, VARBusiness - From the November 27, 2006 VARBusiness

Partners who have tested out the new devices say they think the products will fill a market need.

"The Palm OS base is shrinking, but there definitely remains strong demand from customers who need an aggressive barcode scanner with a simple application at a low price point -- something that Palm OS excels at," says Brad Horn, Portable Technology Solutions, a provider of mobile barcode enabled data collection solutions. "These customers cannot afford and do not need the higher end features bundled in with the Windows Mobile and CE.Net Terminals. The Janam terminal is a great fit for these price sensitive customers."

"There is still a Palm market out there. We found some customers were pretty upset with the end-of-life with Symbol's program," says Tom Moxley, president of Next Level Solutions, in Scottsdale, Ariz. "This will give the Palm user a good window to convert so he can do it on his timetable not with his back to the wall."

There is another small provider of rugged Palm-based devices based out of New Zealand, called Aceeca, although its devices are based on an older version of the Palm OS.

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At the time of this post, the first production units are expected to ship out in the first half of Q1. List pricing of the XP Series devices is expected to range from $995.00 to $1,545.00 depending on how the XP Series device is configured.

The renewed focus, improvements, and upgrades of this OS developmental effort may translate into greater functionality of the PALM OS in general.

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