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Palm OS Still Alive

For now.

May 19, 2006

2 Min Read
Palm OS Still Alive

6:00 AM -- After Palm Inc. ’s release of the Treo 700w using Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)’s Window Mobile operating system, many people were wondering what would happen to the Palm OS operating system. The fate of Palm OS was also clouded by PalmSource’s decision last year to discontinue work on Cobalt -- the high-end, multi-threaded OS that was to take Palm into the future. PalmSource indicated at that time its intention to use Linux as its high-end OS platform.

The Treo smartphone line has sold extremely well, with some 3 million Treo 600s and 650s in the market. And it’s no wonder. The Treo 650 does a lot of things well, especially from a useability point of view. So it was no surprise when Palm announced the 700p, an enhanced Palm OS Treo that will support CDMA2000 EV-DO networks. The gadget will address one of the 650’s biggest weaknesses -- namely, its limited memory. The 700p will have 128 Mbytes of memory. I’m sure Palm will sell plenty of these. A UMTS/HSDPA version seems like a logical development as well.

However, while Palm OS has its dedicated following, and is well suited for light-weight applications such as organizer functions and email, it simply does not have the horsepower of competing systems like Windows Mobile 5, which is far more sophisticated in its multi-tasking and networking capabilities. Mitigating this limitation is that most users do not do much beyond organizer tasks, email, and some browsing functions on their smartphones. So it makes complete sense for Palm OS to keep being used for the moment. However, as enterprises slowly figure out how to deploy more demanding applications for smartphones, its likely that many of these will be targeted for alternative smartphone platforms.

— Peter Rysavy is President of Rysavy Research . Special to Unstrung

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