Rough Times

By David Morgenstern  |  Posted 2004-12-08 Print this article Print

?"> But a number of Cobalt-based smart phones are in the process of entering the market, David Limp, senior vice president of corporate and business development at PalmSource, told He said some of the forthcoming models will be based on Cobalt 6.0, which shipped to licensees at the end of last year, as well as on Version 6.1. Read more about Cobalt 6.1. "Porting Palm applications to Linux will take at least a year, and in the transition period, both palmOne and PalmSource are likely to experience some difficulties in the market—whether they want to continue to support the other platforms as they have before," Gartners Kort said.
"They will still have to maintain efforts with the Garnet and Cobalt OSes, but that means juggling more balls, and its more likely that something will be dropped."
Some analyst reports point to gains by Microsoft in the mobile market. Contributing editor Guy Kewney recently took a close look at the progress of Microsoft, Palm and Symbian in the fight over the mobile operating system. here. In addition, PalmSource might face more difficulties using Linux than expected, Kort said. While the perception of the open-source platform is that its a free-spirited being that can be used by anyone with the desire, he warned that that is not necessarily the case. "The problem with Linux is that it has no master. Every vendor has their own version of Linux. Its a myth that it [Linux] runs everywhere," he said. "Given that [PalmSofts new partner] China MobileSoft is a small company, its going to take a lot of resources to promote that as a major flavor of Linux." Kort also chided the software companys announcement for its affect on palmOne. "Its very bad for PalmOne because its in the middle of the Christmas selling season, and its sister company has thrown lots of fear and uncertainty into the market." On the other hand, analyst Carl Zetie with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. took a more positive stance on the switchover. He said the Linux kernel will allow PalmSource and its OEM customers to create high-end devices and also to find entry into the lower-end, high-volume part of the market, such as ordinary cell phones. "Its also good news for palmOne and their relationship with PalmSource," Zetie said. "Some people have been speculating for a long time that PalmOne would abandon Palm OS and PalmSource for Linux—that would have been disastrous. Now we can stop worrying about that." Kort agreed that the new move means PalmSource has the potential to hit it big in the wider mobile phone sector. "Roughly 650 million phones sold this year, and probably 17 million of those are smart phones," he said. "So, thats already bigger than 12 million units for PDA market and 5 million for the Palm OS market." Mobile handset vendors showed of their latest wares and addressed the questions of productivity and multimedia convergence at the fall CTIA Wireless conference. PDA developers and users will see changes as well, though its too early to tell how drastic the changes will be, he added. "Developers will, in the short term, continue to support Palm OS, but Im not sure what proportion of the Palm developers have experience with Linux or intention of porting their skills to work with Linux," Kort said. For Zetie, however, if the Palm OS can operate over Linux, developers wont need to make such a huge switch. "If PalmSource can do what its promised to do, it allows an army of existing Palm developers to target a high-end platform, and it allows Linux developers to target other devices," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.

David Morgenstern is Executive Editor/Special Projects of eWEEK. Previously, he served as the news editor of Ziff Davis Internet and editor for Ziff Davis' Storage Supersite.

In 'the days,' he was an award-winning editor with the heralded MacWEEK newsweekly as well as eMediaweekly, a trade publication for managers of professional digital content creation.

David has also worked on the vendor side of the industry, including companies offering professional displays and color-calibration technology, and Internet video.

He can be reached here.


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