PalmSource Affirms Linux Commitment

Palm's annual developer event keynote speech discusses wireless opportunities, 3G consumer and enterprise data services, and the need for Palm developers to partner with network carriers.

SAN JOSE, Calif.—"Linux is our platform for the future," said Dr. Dave Nagel, delivering a keynote talk to an audience of 1,000 attendees at the Palms annual developer event, renamed from "devcon" to "Mobile Summit" this year.

Nagel talked little about Linux, however, focusing instead on wireless opportunities, 3G consumer and enterprise data services, and the need for Palm developers to partner with network carriers.

PalmSource completed its acquisition of Linux smart-phone software vendor CMS (ChinaMobile Soft) in February, promising to unveil its Linux strategy at this years devcon.

With 400,000 developers, PalmOS has the largest community of mobile developers in the world, Nagel said, and Palm is well positioned to capitalize on a huge trend toward connected mobile devices.

The PDA market represented 15 million units per year at its peak, Nagel said, while 700 million phones will sell this year.

PalmOS developers are currently stuck with a single-threaded real-time operating system that cant support the kinds of applications that are needed to fully exploit 3G data services, however. "I dont care what OS it is, just give me threads," said Thomas E. Link, an advisory software engineer with IBM attending the keynote. Link develops enterprise software that synchronizes client applications with corporate resources. "Were dying to do synchronization and replication in the background, without resorting to hacks that emulate multitasking," Links said.

Nagel entreatied Palm developers to move to the Cobalt API announced at last years event, promising that Cobalt applications would be "absolutely compatible" with PalmSources future Linux-based operating system products.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about PalmOne paying Palm operating system provider PalmSource for the rights to the Palm Inc. moniker.

Palm developers, however, have been slow to embrace Cobalt, because it has not been clear when—or if—Cobalt devices would actually reach market.

"I come here every year to find out whats going to be in the next version of PalmOS," said Bryan Nystrom, CTO of Natara Software, a small company that makes project management software that synchronizes with Microsoft applications.

"Last year, the message was move up to Cobalt, but there are no Cobalt devices. For us, it would be a lot easier to move to Windows Mobile than to Linux, so we want to find out if Linux is for real. Its reaching the point where application developers cant afford to support only PalmOS anymore."

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