Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Trouble With Palm OS

Treo 755p Palm OS Smartphone - Image Credit: Brighthand (A.Wright)

The Trouble With Palm OS

The trouble isn’t that the operating system doesn’t work, or is reliable, or even that it isn’t even owned by the company that had originally developed it. The trouble with the Palm OS is that everyone knows that it is time to move on to an operating system that will take advantage of all that this new mobility world has to promise.

Phone, Camera/Imager, WiFi, Bluetooth, Digital Video, Physical World Connection & Hyperlink Applications, and More are functions better left to the next generation of operating system that ACCESS is busy developing with Linux. Microsoft has led the agenda in the mobility arena and it is now time for the Palm OS to become the Windows 95 of its world.

Excerpts from Computerworld Mobile & Wireless -

Treo 755p: The Palm OS goes out with a whimper, not a bang
The end of the Palm OS?

By James Turner – Freelance Writer For Computerworld - May 17, 2007

The Palm Pilot was the first wildly successful product that enabled us to walk around with a small computer in our pockets. Palm -- and the Palm OS -- has long since branched out into smart phones, and many reports claim the new Treo 755p, just released by Sprint Nextel Corp., will be the last hurrah for the aging Palm OS as Palm replaces it with Linux.

There are many advantages to Palm in making this move. Perhaps the biggest is the fact that Palm can leverage that technology for the Treo and make available to users the many third-party applications written for Linux-based phones.

So the Treo 755p may well be the end of an era for a platform that once held near-monopolistic market share for mobile devices. Is the 755p a grand final moment for Palm OS?

Side-By-Side Older Treo 680, Treo 755p, and Nokia N95 - Image Credit: Brighthand (A.Wright)

Not really. We just spent some time with the 755p and found some solid incremental improvements, but the device is mostly familiar, with nothing that will make you sit back and say "wow." The most noticeable change is the same "antenna-ectomy" that other recent Treo releases received. The resulting form factor fits a bit better in a pocket, but the Treo antenna was never that big to begin with. Palm touts the 755p as being slimmer, but if you measure the device, it's only 1.2mm thinner.

From a corporate perspective, the Treo 755p supports the new Microsoft Exchange "Direct Push" technology. Assuming that your IT department sets up your Exchange server to support it, this allows you to receive e-mail as soon as it arrives rather than having to wait until the device polls for it.
Beyond that, though, the Treo 755p is very similar to the older Treos. For example, like the Treo 750, the 755p is now covered by one of those annoying, flimsy plastic snap-on covers that could easily come off the first time it catches on something. The memory capacity is the same as the 700p -- 128MB with 60MB available to the user -- as is the 312-MHz XScale processor. Both devices run the same release of Palm OS and have the same display and camera.

Oddly, the Treo 755p is rather pricey for a device sporting an aging operating system. Sprint is offering it for as low as $280, depending on the service plan, which is significantly more expensive than more up-to-date smart phones. Sprint offers both the Motorola Q and at least one BlackBerry for less than $100, depending on your plan, and a host of other smart phones for under $200.

So, if this is, indeed, the last significant product based on the Palm OS, it goes out with a whimper, not a bang. Palm hasn't released much that has been new or interesting since the Treo 700w, its first Windows Mobile phone, which started shipping more than a year ago. Of course, that will change dramatically when it releases its first Linux devices, which could see the light of day before the end of the year, according to some reports.

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Sounds like the Linux OS can not arrive soon enough.

Rumor has it that Motorola may scoop up Palm and kill two birds with one stone … own and eliminate a major cellphone competitor and have access to ACCESS support of the Palm OS through Palm’s perpetual license agreement in order to prop up the Symbol Technologies products that were sold with the Palm OS. If the rumor becomes true, this would be a significant play.

If this were to happen, Motorola would become very strong in its core business and it would hurt the fortunes of any company that had been put together in order to capitalize on the vacuum created through the recent non-renewal of the Palm OS license to Symbol Technologies before Motorola had purchased the company.

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