This 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.