Cobalt Makes Meager Progress

 
 
By Shelley Solheim  |  Posted 2005-03-07 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More than a year after PalmSource Inc. released its Palm OS Cobalt operating system, only one handset manufacturer has announced plans to bring a Cobalt-based device to market.

More than a year after PalmSource Inc. released its Palm OS Cobalt operating system, only one handset manufacturer has announced plans to bring a Cobalt-based device to market.

Hong Kong-based Group Sense PDA Ltd. last week said it will ship a Cobalt-based smart phone in the United States by the fourth quarter of this year, according to a GSPDA spokesperson. The company declined to give further details.

The development win is small consolation for PalmSource, which released Version 6 of its operating system, known as Cobalt, to its licensees in January of last year and later released an upgraded version in September with more features designed to help handset manufacturers get smart phones to market more quickly.

At that time, PalmSource, of Sunnyvale, Calif., said the majority of its licensees were focused on bringing a Cobalt-based device to market, with nearly a dozen devices in development slated for release this year.

But PalmSources biggest licensee, PalmOne Inc., has yet to give any sign of releasing a Cobalt-based device; another of PalmSources major licensees, Sony Corp., last week announced it is canning sales of its Clié PDAs in Japan. This follows Sonys announcement last year to end sales in Europe and North America.

"PalmSource has floundered somewhat over the past year or so. The fact that the Cobalt OS has been available for over a year and here were just hearing [about] the first little company coming out with a product later this year does not bode well for the future of PalmSource," said Todd Kort, an analyst with Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn.

"PalmOne is probably going to introduce a Microsoft [Corp. Windows Mobile]-based Treo in the months ahead, which will only further hinder confidence in PalmSource," Kort said.

PalmSource, meanwhile, is developing its next Palm OS to run on top of the Linux kernel. But it could be a while before enterprise users see devices based on that.

"I dont really expect PalmOne to come out with a Cobalt-on-top-of-Linux product until at least the end of the year," said Kort.

John Greiner, chief technology officer at Legal Services for New York City, is evaluating wireless devices, including PalmOnes Treo smart phones and Research In Motion Ltd.s BlackBerry devices, for his companys mobile case managers.

"Were looking more at what the users want it for—which device theyre favoring," said Greiner, in New York.

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