Tag Archives | Palm Pre

Palm OS is Dead! Long Live Web OS!

Palm Pilot PreThis is news, but it’s anything but unexpected: Palm CEO Ed Colligan says that the company won’t be making any new devices that run the Palm OS. The operating system which was synonymous with the company for almost a decade and a half (even after Palm started making Windows Mobile devices, too) is going away, and the company will focus its OS energies on Web OS, which will debut in the Palm Pre smartphone.

I assume that there will be at least a few folks who will argue that Palm OS should have survived–hardcore Palm fans, maybe, and certainly at least some developers who make apps for the platform. But for many of us who are Palm users and admirers (past or present) the notion that Palm OS is giving way to Web OS isn’t just acceptable, it’s kind of delightful. It’s been painfully obvious for years that Palm OS was hopelessly antiquated, but until Palm unveiled the Pre last month, it wasn’t clear that it had any kind of viable strategy for replacing it.

Web OS doesn’t run Palm OS programs, and has only a few specific interface features which are pretty much the same as in Palm OS. But from what I’ve seen of it so far, it’s got the Palm DNA in spades. The philosophies behind the original PalmPilots are the same as those reflected in the Pre–it’s just that the technology that Palm can call on is unimaginably better than they were in the mid 1990s.

I was a Palm fan for years; then I became someone who thought that chances were he’d never own another Palm device. Now I think I might again–and saying goodbye to the Palm OS is part of the remarkable rebirth that Palm now stands a reasonably good chance of pulling off.


5Words: A Really Short News Roundup

5wordsYou’re a really busy person. I’m a really busy person. Enter our new feature, 5words. It consists of quick news hits from around the Web–and just to keep things moving right along, every item will be five words long. (If that leaves you hungry for more, click the links to get more words on these stories elsewhere–hundreds of them, sometimes.) Here we go…

Google’s Latitude: Track your friends.

Facebook celebrates its fifth birthday.

Palm’s Pre arriving March 15th?

Asus keeps introducing Eee PCs.

15,000 Panasonic staffers are toast.

India’s $10 laptop: thumb drive?

Are six Windows 7s excessive?

Firefox update patches security holes.

Cloud computing for…slot machines?

Amazon starts selling downloadable games.

Rumors of iPhone background tasks.

A two-million-laptop supercomputer.

A new iPhone in June?

Toshiba introduces another “iPhone killer.”

NVidia’s Ion netbook platform impresses.

MySpace’s 90,000-sex-offender list.


Palm Responds to Apple iPhone Patent Warnings

Palm vs. NewtonFirst, Apple COO Tim Cook seemed to throw a brushback pitch at Palm’s upcoming Pre phone by talking about how vigorously Apple would defend its intellectual property immediately after a financial analyst had mentioned the Pre. Which left lots of folks with the impression that he might be suggesting that the Pre violated Apple patents on multi-touch interfaces and/or other iPhone-related patents.

Now Palm PR head Lynn Fox has responded to the idea that the Pre might tread too closely to iPhone territory, in the form of a quote in a story by All Things Digital’s John Paczkowski:

Palm has a long history of innovation that is reflected in our products and robust patent portfolio (31 pages of patents in Google Patent Search), and we have long been recognized for our fundamental patents in the mobile space,” she told Digital Daily. “If faced with legal action, we are confident that we have the tools necessary to defend ourselves.”

I’ve said that I hope Apple doesn’t sue Palm, but I should clarify: Apple has every right to enforce its patents, but I hope it turns out that it doesn’t have grounds to sue Palm. The Pre has some iPhone-like characteristics, but overall, it’s no iPhone wannabee.  It’s a strikingly imaginative device–the most inventive new phone since the first iPhone–and it would be a shame if legal woes interfered with its release. We’ll see.

I’ll end with an image from a 1996 Palm patent filing that probably won’t protect the company from Apple’s current legal maneuverings, should there be any…but so help me, I love old patent drawings:

Palm Pilot


Is Apple Going to Sue Palm Over Multi-Touch?

Palm PreI don’t want to start any wild, unfounded rumors, but I just got off Apple’s conference call on its quarterly financial results, and towards the end of the call Apple COO Tim Cook started getting very protective of Apple’s intellectual property in the form of iPhone related patents. In answer to a question about iPhone competitors, he had the following to say:

“We’re very, very comfortable with where we are competitively…we like competition, as long as they don’t rip off our [intellectual property]…and if they do, we’ll go after them.”

The questioner then brought up Palm’s upcoming Pre phone and its sophisticated multi-touch interface specifically. In response, Cook said:

“I don’t want to talk about any one company…but we will not stand for having our IP ripped off and will use whatever weapons are at our disposal. I don’t know how much clearer I could be than that.”

Okay, what should we make of that? Cook didn’t say that Apple’s about to sue Palm or any other company that makes an iPhone-like phone, but he surely unloaded a warning shot across the bow of any company that would make a phone that was too iPhone-like. And while he didn’t mention multi-touch specifically, Apple has a bunch of multi-touch patents that it surely filed to help keep the iPhone unique. Here’s a nifty drawing from a patent filed in 2006–love that antenna and the fact that the phone appears to be five times as big as its user’s hand!–which I didn’t include in my recent Apple-patent extravaganza:

Apple Multi-Touch Patent

Who else has a multi-touch phone? T-Mobile’s Android-based G1 doesn’t have multi-touch; RIM’s BlackBerry Storm does, although not in particularly iPhone-like form. All evidence suggests that the Pre will sport the most compelling touch-based interface alternative to the iPhone when it shows up (before mid-year in theory).

While the Pre has certain iPhone-esque characteristics, I’m more struck by the many things that are wildly imaginative about its interface; I’d hate to see attacked in court as an iPhone knockoff. Palm has presumably done its best to steer clear of Apple patents all along. So if Tim Cook’s comments this afternoon had a subtext, I hope that it wasn’t “We believe the Palm Pre violates our patents, and we’re not going to let that happen.”


Palm’s Pre Gambit and the Joy of Starting Over

Palm PreMy apologies if you think I’m overcovering Palm’s Pre smartphone here, but it’s not just a promising device that runs a promising operating system. It also represents a brave attempt at starting from scratch–something almost no technology company ever does.

Hardwarewise, the Pre looks nothing like a Treo. It doesn’t run PalmOS apps. The user interface probably has a fair amount in common with early Palm devices in terms of overarching philosophies, but there are only minor nods to the specifics of the old UI, such as the desktop full of icons. (Which come to think of it, looks as much like the iPhone as it does previous Palms.) I’m assuming that Palm’s new WebOS, which has Linux underpinnings and a top layer based on Web technologies, shares not a single line of code with PalmOS.

Continue Reading →

One comment

Palm Posts Its Pre-View

Palm PrePalm has posted an online video of the press conference it held on Thursday at CES to unveil its Pre smartphone. I’m glad I was able to attend the event in person, but the video is arguably a superior way to get a sneak peek at the Pre: You can watch it in the comfort of your own home, don’t have to spring for airfare to Las Vegas and a hotel room, and don’t have to trudge past 15,000 miles of slot machines at the Venetian before you can see it…

No comments

Eight Random Things I Learned About the Palm Pre Today

Palm Pre

I’m still running around Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, and this time I made time to pay Palm’s meeting room a visit to get a closer look at the company’s radically new Pre phone. It looked at least as good close up as at yesterday’s big press event: It’s strikingly smaller than the iPhone, and more elegant than you’d expect given the need to fit in the slide-out keyboard.

Since I’d seen and enjoyed yesterday’s demo and checked out Palm’s specs page, I mostly used my face time with Palm to ask about questions which neither addressed, as far as I could remember.

Here’s what I learrned:

–It doesn’t have iPhone-style visual voicemail.

–It doesn’t have voice dialing.

–It doesn’t have a voice recorder.

–There’s no compatibility with PalmOS apps, although Palm will work with developers to help them move to the new platform, and it’s not unthinkable that a third party might create an emulator for old apps.

–It provides on-phone access to Amazon’s MP3 download store for DRM-free music purchases.

–It’ll come with a new version of DataViz’s Documents to Go for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF work.

–Only the Web browser and the photo browser support landscape-mode display; the video player is landscape only.

–Like the iPhone, it has a proximity sensor that it uses to shut off the screen when you hold the phone to your ear to make a call.


The T-Grid: Palm Pre vs. Apple iPhone 3G

Yesterday night, we didn’t know much of anything about Palm’s new phone based on its next-generation platform for sure. And then Palm unveiled it today at CES–and while there are stray bits and pieces of information that may still be missing–including the price–we now know an awful lot about the phone, even though it’s still months from release. Ultimately, I think this phone is going to be judged primarily on its user interface, which looked damn impressive in today’s demo. But it’s worth recording the specs, facts, and figures we know so far, and comparing them to Apple’s iPhone 3G is irresistible.

Quick summary: The Pre has tons of features in common with the iPhone, but it also has a formidable list of items the iPhone lacks, including a real keyboard, copy and paste, tethering, and a camera with 50% more megapixels. After the jump, a T-Grid comparison.

Continue Reading →


Palm’s Spectacular Hail Mary: Pre Smartphone and WebOS Operating System

I’m going to have lots more to say about the demo of Palm’s upcoming Pre smartphone and WebOS that just ended here at CES in Las Vegas in a bit–but for now I’ll just link you to Ryan Block’s coverage at GDGT and share some photos I took. The device looks very impressive and the OS looks exceptional, and neither is an iPhone knockoff. It’s very dangerous to get too excited about a product based on a demo–and Palm is only saying the Pre will ship in the first half of this year (on Sprint). But this is by far the most impressive Palm demo I’ve seen since I first saw the original PalmPilot in 1995. If the Pre lives up to its unveiling today, it’s not hard to imagine being a huge hit and the beginning of a mobile platform that matters as much as the original Palm OS did in its day.

Photos after the jump…

Continue Reading →