|Linux coming to a Visor near you?
|Posted by: @tomic212 @ 10/9/99 11:05:47 AM
|In part 2 of Mike Cane's Internet report he speculated on the possibility of a Linux Springboard module for the Visor. Hawkins let slip that "a Springboard module can be used to override the PalmOS within the Visor". This goes along well with Linus Torvald's, the founding father of Linux, comments that the Handheld market will be able to use Linux in the not-too-distant future. What does all of this mean? Read this exclusive article on the possibility of alternative OS's on your Visor.
Goodbye Palm, Hello Handspring!
by Mike Cane (firstname.lastname@example.org)
October 9, 1999
A PalmInfocenter Exclusive
In Part Two of my Internet World Report, I happened to speculate on the
possibility of a Linux Springboard module for the Visor. I further wondered
if Jean-Louis Gassee's BeOS would make its way onto a Springboard module
I think the possibilities actually go far beyond those idle questions.
Follow along with me down the path of Stochastic Reasoning.
You are Jeff Hawkins. After years of dealing with hardware manufacturers
who Got It All Wrong with things such as the Zoomer and even the Newton
(sorry, my fellow Appleteers!), you decide to take charge of your own
destiny and grab a block of wood to Show Them All How It Should Be Done.
The Palm Pilot is created. It is wildly successful by any businessperson's
benchmarks. It has, in fact, created a market that is being referred to as
"The Palm Economy."
But you are still Jeff Hawkins at the the end of this road. Your company
was first acquired by U.S. Robotics, which was then acquired by 3Com. 3Com
looks at this pocket thingie and can't figure out what the hell it means,
where it fits into The Big Picture. But, hey, that really doesn't matter --
look at all of that cash it's bringing in! Being very good corporateers,
they invoke their Corporate Prime Directive: If it works, don't improve it
until the money flow starts to slow down. So, although Jeff Hawkins wants
to see his Palm evolve into something more, he is tripped up by all of these
fear-filled people above him in their faraway corporate offices. These are
*worse* than the kind of people who Got It All Wrong before -- because
*this* set of people Doesn't Get It AT ALL!
Exit Jeff Hawkins from Palm Computing, carrying a printing press for money
with him: a license to the PalmOS.
Now he is free to Show Them All again.
Months before any member of the general public learns of Handspring's
offerings, Palm Computing releases a very strange duck, the Palm IIIe.
What's this? Just 2 megs of RAM? No onboard Flash? Are the people who
remain at Palm all retards?
At Internet World, everyone got to experience the Visor firsthand. Compared
to current Palms, one is hard-pressed to think of a single reason to stick
with Palm's current offerings (with the exception of the Palm Vx, which is
called a Strange Attractor in Chaos Theory). Already columnists are saying
Palm is doomed.
Ah, but look at this: the Visor Solo is a 2 meg unit with no onboard Flash.
Hmmm... could it be that Palm Computing knew what Jeff was doing and rushed
out a pre-emptive "Visor-killer," the IIIe? I think so.
Is this the kind of behavior one would expect from the owner of an OS,
pre-emptive competition against a licensee? What are they doing, taking
lessons from Bill Gates?
But remember what Handspring has that Palm does not: Jeff Hawkins. And Jeff
Hawkins knows what it is like to be boxed in; he can show you the scars
marked Zoomer, Newton, and 3Com. Above all other things, Jeff Hawkins is
*never* EVER going to be boxed in again.
Yes, he holds a PalmOS license. But he knows just how far the PalmOS can
go. He knows of that 12-meg RAM limit. He has created this thing, he knows
when it will hit the wall and can go no further.
Handspring is a *licensee* of the PalmOS. Consider what that means. All it
means is that they have the right to put out a product line that contains
the PalmOS. It does not -- absolutely does NOT -- mean that they will be
RESTRICTED to producing NOTHING BUT a line of products containing the
Having created a market for palmtops, having seen just how much money can
flow in from such devices, why should Jeff Hawkins -- and Donna Dubinsky,
and Ed Colligan -- be restricted to a line of PalmOS devices?
The answer is: they are not. The future is: PalmOS devices will be nothing
more than a SINGLE PRODUCT LINE out of the fast-growing Handspring corporate
Depending on how quickly they can ramp things up, you can expect to see
Handspring devices that are entirely run via Linux, possibly even the BeOS.
If Apple still intends to enter the palmtop market, it might be via a
joint-venture with Handspring, and that unit can contain an OS that was
written by Apple, with *no* royalties flowing into the coffers of Palm
Computing. Java, heralded as another Next Big Thing, can also find its way
into a Handspring device.
And when the PalmOS has reached its limit? When even Palm Computing itself
must come out and admit, "Gee, fellows, we're going to have to rewrite this
thing and start the market all over," where will Handspring be? Ready to
jump in with their *own* OS, which they can then license to others -- just
as Microsoft did with WinCE.
The point of all this is: If when you think of "Handspring" all you can
think of is "PalmOS," rearrange your dendrites. The PalmOS was simply a way
for Handspring to capitalize on an already-existing market, add
functionality to *expand* that market, make a jillion dollars, and move on
to *other* products, with *other* OSes. In the future, when someone tells
you he/she just bought a palmtop from Handspring, the first question you
will ask is, "What OS does it have?"
Remember that you read it here first.
What do you think about: Linux on a Visor?