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Comments on: Palm OS Cobalt Video Demo

I was browsing through my video clips recently and came across a short movie I captured at the PalmSource Devcon in February 2004. It is from David Nagel's keynote address and shows a live demo of Palm OS Cobalt. Thanks to the magic of Google Video, you can now watch this clip here in this post.
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Revolutionary Piece of Technology! HAHAHAHA!

Khris @ 3/8/2006 5:39:20 PM # Q
So revolutionary it never made it to see the light of day!

Did Cobalt ever win any Vapourware awards?

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Why now

Mauibro @ 3/8/2006 5:35:18 PM # Q
Why is a dead OS relevant today?

Since we'll never see it it seems as meaningful as those pads they use on Star Trek.
At least one day I might actually get to use the Star Trek pad.

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You post this now?

legodude522 @ 3/8/2006 5:44:27 PM # Q
I had the Cobalt Simulator running on my PC. So why not add the download link, lol.

Anyway, did anyone notice what media player that was at the end?

Palm m125 December 25, 2002 to March 24 2004 > palmOne Zire 71 March 24, 2004 to March 31, 2005. Tapwave Zodiac 1 April 18, 2005 to November 2, 2005 > palmOne Zire 72 November 2, 2005 to present

RE: You post this now?
Admin @ 3/8/2006 10:02:54 PM # Q
I would have posted it two years ago, had this delivery technology been in place.
RE: You post this now?
mikecane @ 3/8/2006 11:16:26 PM # Q
WTF?

BitTorrent!

Geez.

RE: You post this now?
Admin @ 3/8/2006 11:34:03 PM # Q
Mike, you can't stream/post a torrent file within an article. I realize there are plenty of other ways to disseminate a movie, but google video makes it pretty easy and I don't have to worry about bandwidth or people not having any additional software. It's a one click interface.

-Ryan
RE: You post this now?
legodude522 @ 3/9/2006 12:34:11 AM # Q
Ryan, http://www.vx30.com/

Same thing, just not as simple. Been around longer. Also, there is YouTube.

Nice to see you around Mike.

Palm m125 December 25, 2002 to March 24 2004 > palmOne Zire 71 March 24, 2004 to March 31, 2005. Tapwave Zodiac 1 April 18, 2005 to November 2, 2005 > palmOne Zire 72 November 2, 2005 to present

RE: You post this now?
AdamaDBrown @ 3/9/2006 4:28:32 AM # Q
Everybody's a critic...

RE: You post this now?
rsc1000 @ 3/9/2006 5:26:21 PM # Q
I don't mean to add to the criticism - but how about the oldest means of delivering video on the internet: a simple file download link (takes no video technology what-so-ever - just a standard http server).

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Delayed reaction magic, huh?

hkklife @ 3/8/2006 5:48:56 PM # Q
"The magic of Google Video", huh? ;-)

Well, better late than never!

Interesting video clip. What was the general concensus that day, Ryan (and whoever else was there seeing it in action)? How long approximately did Nagel's presentation/live demo last?

Do you recall kind of camera did you capture that video with?



Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Delayed reaction magic, huh?
Admin @ 3/8/2006 6:38:25 PM # Q
Read my report in the link above for my summary of the address and the general reaction.

Nagel then explained how PalmSource is at the forefront of an industry amidst great change. He stressed how the move to the next generation Palm OS is an enormously important and exciting transition, just as big as the introduction of the original Pilot. "Palm OS 6 Cobalt is the most important piece of software [PalmSource has] ever delivered, a revolutionary OS that will have as big an impact as the original Palm OS," said Nagel.

http://tinyurl.com/raf4g

I used a small sony digicam, a cybershot P7, its pretty old now and needs replacement.

-Ryan

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Errr, umm

AJG @ 3/8/2006 6:38:16 PM # Q
Well, I wish I better understood why it never made it to primetime. I mean, I know the PalmSource people were pretty much incompetent when it came to developement after they were spun off from Palm. Of course, now I also wonder why Access isn't making Cobalt happen versus developing this new Linux Palm OS. Any thoughts?

-AJ
RE: Errr, umm
PenguinPowered @ 3/9/2006 12:11:38 AM # Q
Access isn't making Cobalt happen instead of Linux because they bought PSRC for Linux, not Cobalt, and they want to be a Linux player in the embedded market.

May You Live in Interesting Times
RE: Errr, umm
JarJar @ 3/9/2006 12:02:56 PM # Q
"I wish I better understood why it never made it to primetime. I mean, I know the PalmSource people were pretty much incompetent when it came to developement"

Cobalt never made it to primetime because PalmOne never adopted it. Palm had a bass ackward licensing scheme from day one that charges for upgrades. Hardware makers have an incentive to stay at their current OS because they have to pay huge $ to change.

The signs of problems where there when Handspring stayed at OS 3.1 long after OS 4.0 was released.

Palm Source *should* have had a more even subscription based model rather than having a huge lump sum when the OS changes. The idiots at PalmSource management were basing their projections on a huge windfall that never came and the idiots at PalmOne secretly decided to avoid paying.

PalmSource development wasn't incompetent on the technical side and Cobalt was/is a very solid OS. Palm should have never split into two halves and they shouldn't have split with an infeasible licensing structure.

Cobalt has all of the good things that Garnet had, plus it fixes many of the short comings and errors. A lot of money was spent on a great OS that was never used.

RE: Errr, umm
JarJar @ 3/9/2006 12:44:22 PM # Q
"Why didn't Palm[Source] move away from lump-sum based revenue?"

Once they got stuck in this model, they were never able to move away from it. The top guys were staking their reputations (and salaries) on upcoming windfalls and it would have been impossible for any top guys at Palm to criticize this model. One would have to admit that the emperor was naked and that the upcoming windfall didn't actually exist.

Every licensing deal should have some amount of up-front costs, but the Palm deals were so ridiculously front loaded (to pay Palm executive salaries and placate investors) that this becomes a de-facto ponzi scheme. The execs are paying their salaries out of future windfalls.

RE: Errr, umm
WareW01f @ 3/9/2006 2:19:50 PM # Q
I mean, I know the PalmSource people were pretty much incompetent when it came to developement after they were spun off from Palm.


Umm, no. Quite the contrary, as you can see in the video, they knew their stuff. The issue is that in every software products life there comes a time where you have to go back to go forward. This is very painful from a business standpoint as it takes time and resources. OS X was Apple's pain, Vista is Microsoft's, FireFox is the result of people stopping and realizing that at some point, crufty code has to go. PalmSource broke off from Palm as they realized this and wanted to go down the path of working towards the future. PalmOne just wants to sell devices. They know they can keep selling Garnet devices and people will buy them so why pay extra for Cobalt? Now granted, they finally hit a bump in the road and now we get WinCE devices. Why? Because Palm just wants to sell devices.


It was a catch 22 from the start. Without breaking off, Cobalt would never have happened... But because of the break off, there was no reason for Palm to put forth any effort to upgrade. That and there is the We-Don't-Want-To-Be-The-First mentality. Why, when the ARM architecture could go big or little endian did Palm switch to little? They didn't want to be the first. I was at that PalmSource (oddly enough on the same end of the room as the video) and the *big* event at that show was Sony. The room was packed (standing room only) as they pulled out like 6 new devices. The PalmOne presentation was a ghost town. Not even a product announcement. Nothing. We all thought that Sony was going to be the first to do Cobalt (the pinlets where made for allowing of entering of Asian characters) Then of course they dropped out.

PalmSource's mistake was going that far with no commitment from *anyone* to release a device. PalmOne's mistake has been not looking at Cobalt as a path forward (how many Treo issues are directly related to the fact that they are *still* patching Garnet?) Right now I see Access in a better spot than Palm. Access has the Asian market and embedded devices ahead of them. Palm is about to have it's ass handed to it in the WinCE market with no clear direction in the only market that they had the lead in, PalmOS devices. Time will tell. GSPDA seems to be a good match for Access (finally). Prior to the buyout, it looked like some kind of death spiral with PalmSource having no one to buy and PalmOne having nowhere to go. Things are just starting to get interesting now.


RE: Errr, umm
stonemirror @ 3/9/2006 2:53:20 PM # Q
PalmSource development wasn't incompetent on the technical side and Cobalt was/is a very solid OS.

Thanks for poiinting this out.


RE: Errr, umm
JarJar @ 3/10/2006 10:52:26 AM # Q
"Without breaking off, Cobalt would never have happened... But because of the break off, there was no reason for Palm to put forth any effort to upgrade."

Cobalt was conceived long before Palm split. Actually OS5 was a temporary "half-way" solution from the beginning. Apps didn't run fully native and obviously OS5 was never intended as a long-term solution. That would be like Apple's Rosetta or Blue Box becoming permanent. OS5 was supposed to be a temporary patch!

If Palm hadn't broken apart, a native cleaner OS would still have happened.

WareWolf is completely right that most of the Treo instabilities are due to an OS that is stressed and strained to the breaking point held together with fraying strands of duct tape. PalmOne solves the problem by sticking with Garnet and hiding/downplaying problems in the media. --Pathetic

Playing around with WinMobile phones is a great way of diverting media attention away from Palm Treo instabilities.

Personally I think the PalmOne engineers have done a excellent job, but management has forced them to use an OS far beyond its original design. Some of the Garnet basic architecture is little changed from the US Robotics Pilot developed in the 1990's.

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Old BeOS demo?

Surur @ 3/8/2006 6:56:12 PM # Q
Its obviously no co-incidence, but that demo is incredibly reminiscent of the old BeOS demos which used to go around. They always emphasized the great multi-media aspects of the OS, usually by playing multiple video streams at the same time. I found this 2001 web page about BeOS, and its amazing how the failure of BeOS also predicted the failure of Cobalt, for essentially the same reason. You could substitute Cobalt for BeOS and the whole thing would still make sense. Its speaks to the wisdom (or lack) of the people who decided it was a good idea to adopt BeOS for a handheld OS.

Excitement in the BeOS user community grew to a fever pitch as the possibility of becoming a major contender in the OS market grew. But Be faced difficulties on many fronts. For example, the company now had to deal with the de facto hardware monopoly and find drivers for the immense variety of video, audio, and network cards on the market. Few hardware vendors were willing to part with the required specifications, let alone willing to write BeOS as well as Windows drivers. As a result, BeOS has never offered the 100% hardware compatibility that Windows does.

Meanwhile, Be was finding that good press didn't necessarily translate to new users. Selling their operating system one copy at a time to individual users was turning out to be difficult. The Be user community was growing steadily, but not mushrooming. Be needed to get BeOS pre-installed on consumer machines from major computer vendors, but ran into obstacles related to the bootloader and Microsoft's Windows License Agreement (I'll cover that in detail in a future column).


http://birdhouse.org/beos/byte/29-10000ft/

Surur

They said I only argued for the sake of arguing, but after an hour I convinced them they were wrong...

RE: Old BeOS demo?
Scott R @ 3/8/2006 8:27:20 PM # Q
Surur, I had the same thoughts when watching this video. Very reminiscent of the BeOS multimedia-intensive demos. Sad, too, because BeOS was able to eek out every bit speed from the CPU and graphic chips and this Cobalt demo looked to do the same. As you've noted, BeOS's main obstacle was their inability to get driver support, and that's what we've heard as a big reason for why PalmSource made the switch to Linux. But, to be quite honest, I don't see the two as being analogous.

First, BeOS was always a small player trying to make it big. At the time PalmSource had Cobalt ready to go (supposedly), they were in a fairly commanding position.

Second, driver support for a PC is critical. Driver support for a PDA or smartphone? Don't they pretty much need to write those drivers from scratch, anyway? And even for things like 3rd party Wi-Fi SD card support, it's not like there's fifty different manufacturers of SDIO Wi-Fi cards. At most, you're talking about four or five. So working to get working drivers for those with a non-universal OS shouldn't be that big of an undertaking.

I would contend that PalmSource made it's own grave. They were too fat and too lazy. They let/made their licensees do too much heavy lifting while they squandered away the big money they were pulling in from licensing fees on executive salaries, huge buildings, and who knows what else.

I've never been a big fan of this shift to Linux. The original Palm OS was designed from the ground up to run with a small kernel and be optimized for a PDA. Adapting a server OS to a PDA just because Linux is the current "hot buzzword"? Not a plan for success, IMO. I really would like to know what (if anything) was so bad about Cobalt such that they never got any licensees to develop products using it.

http://Tapland.com
- Tapwave Zodiac News, Reviews, & Discussion -

RE: Old BeOS demo?
hkklife @ 3/8/2006 8:46:45 PM # Q
TVoR knows what was/is wrong with it but he/she/it ain't telling...



Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Old BeOS demo?
twrock @ 3/8/2006 11:57:07 PM # Q
TVoR knows what was/is wrong with it but he/she/it ain't telling...

Actually I know too, but I'm not telling either.
(See how easy it was to make that claim?)
Now if someone really does know something more specific than we already know about the "why" of the Cobalt no-show, it would be fun to hear. Otherwise it's just a big tease, and I'm not interested in playing that game.

It might not be the "mythical color HandEra", but I'm liking my TX anyway.

RE: Old BeOS demo?
PenguinPowered @ 3/9/2006 12:14:08 AM # Q
Adapting a server OS to a PDA just because Linux is the current "hot buzzword"? Not a plan for success, IMO.

Just to pick a nit: Linux was originally designed as a desktop OS and ran on hardware with more modest performance than the current PDA hardware, so that it is now seen as a 'server' OS isn't really a technical impediment to porting it to an embedded device.



May You Live in Interesting Times

RE: Old BeOS demo?
hkklife @ 3/9/2006 12:21:37 AM # Q
twrock;

You must not have noticed the sarcasm dripping from my earlier post. Anyone who is 'in the know' is either currently employed by Palm/Access/PalmSource and/or tied down under a NDA or simply doesn't care enough about the rabble rousers on PIC to spill the beans.

It's possible we may not know The Ugly Truth for another couple years. How long did it take for the inside scoop on Copland to come out of the Apple camp back in the late 90s?



Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Old BeOS demo?
twrock @ 3/9/2006 7:26:14 AM # Q
Yep, must have missed it.

It might not be the "mythical color HandEra", but I'm liking my TX anyway.
RE: Old BeOS demo?
stonemirror @ 3/10/2006 1:52:59 AM # Q
...the people who decided it was a good idea to adopt BeOS for a handheld OS.

Who'd that be? Not us, certainly.

Since I don't expect Dianne to offer (yet another) correction to this persistent misrepresentation here, let me act as Rumor Control and offer the facts:

- BeOS was neither "adopted" nor adapted by Palm/PalmSource. We did purchase Be's intellectual property and hire a number of their (ex-)engineers.
- No substantial amount of BeOS code was taken wholesale into Cobalt.
- For starters, Cobalt ran on a kernel developed by the Palm kernel team, and not on the BeOS kernel. If, as you seem to be suggesting, BeOS was somehow simply wrestled into a handheld version and retitled "Cobalt", that'd appear a fairly odd oversight...

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Cobalt Simulator

jjesusfreak01 @ 3/8/2006 10:33:04 PM # Q
In case any of you care, the reason why the Cobalt sim is not this usable is because it is 68k only without DLLs. What this means is that the coolest programs for Cobalt (The media player, graphics intensive stuff) cannot run because the ARM processor isnt emulated in the sim, but DLL files hold the programs ARM code converted to Windows instructions. Hope that makes sense.

RE: Cobalt Simulator
rsc1000 @ 3/9/2006 5:13:01 PM # Q
Actually the media player in the Cobolt sim DOES work. You have to create another folder in the directory that poses as expansion media, right where the 'Audio' directory is. Create a folder named 'Video' (i just guessed and it worked). It's been over a year or so since trying that so i don't remember the supported codecs - just mpeg2 or 4 i think?? The trully cool bit that we all should be crying about was the API for the media engine. The player is just a simple little player written using that engine. Every programmer would have been able to easily add video and audio to their apps. check the cobolt API docs.

>>What this means is that the coolest programs for Cobalt (The media player, graphics intensive stuff) cannot run because the ARM processor isnt emulated in the sim

Remember also that 'the cool' stuff in the video that Ryan posted above, is all running on the Cobolt Simulator.

Just another point - as understand it, none of the stuff you see in Cobolt simulator that is core OS stuff (UI, the underlying functionality of the built-in apps / the apps them sleves) are 68k. It is all Cobolt APIs: ARM on a device, x86 dlls on windows.

RE: Cobalt Simulator
stonemirror @ 3/10/2006 1:48:18 AM # Q
...as understand it, none of the stuff you see in Cobolt simulator that is core OS stuff (UI, the underlying functionality of the built-in apps / the apps them sleves) are 68k.

You understand correctly.

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The obligatory 'Yankowski's Suit' comment

hkklife @ 3/9/2006 12:28:14 AM # Q
Ryan, THIS video excerpt would be an absolutely stunning one to post. It's a shame it's BURIED in the bowels of the CNBC vaults!
*********

In another room, a few executives watched Carl Yankowski's interview on CNBC, taping it for playback at the employee meeting that was to commence in minutes. After CNBC announcers gushed over "the most talked-about IPO," the camera cut to Carl Yankowski in the Nasdaq studio. Usually a compelling public speaker, Yankowski seemed out of his element. When asked about larger screens for palmtops, he answered stiffly, "We are well positioned whichever way the market goes." As the interview came to a close, the reporter said, "I've got to ask you about your suit." Yankowski smiled. He was wearing a very special suit, he let on, designed to satisfy the public's high expectations from Palm's IPO. The shiny pinstripes woven into the otherwise standard wool suit were made from threads of pure gold. CNBC cut back to the studio anchor. "Was that for real?" he asked the correspondent. The Palm managers assembled around the TV set looked at each other. "We're not showing this video," one of the executives decreed. Then they walked out to start the employee meeting.

http://tinyurl.com/zgqzq


Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

What would you all be without Yankowski
Tamog @ 3/9/2006 9:34:45 AM # Q
HI,
I permanentely wonder what you all would do if Carl Yankowski would have died in Austria 2 days old and would never have matured into a Palm CEO.

Who would you bicker about? Who's hair would you reccommend for spiritual burning(yes, TVoR, its you I mean)?

Overall, I believe that we should thank Carlie for his existance..cause else you wouldnt have anyone to bicker about;).

Best regards
Tam Hahaha-nna

Find out more about the Palm OS in my blog:
http://tamspalm.tamoggemon.com

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Nagel, as stand up comic?

Foo Fighter @ 3/9/2006 9:31:46 AM # Q
I didn't know Nagel was a stand up comedian! He was hilarious! I loved every minute of his sketch. And his punchline at the end had me rolling on the floor! Eat your heart our Jerry Seinfeld!

-------------------------------
Editor, http://Pocketfactory.com
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Cobalt is still listed on PalmSource's site

asiayeah @ 3/13/2006 8:32:41 AM # Q
Does anyone notice that Cobalt is still actively listed on PalmSource's site for developers?

For example,
http://www.palmos.com/dev/tech/oses/cobalt60.html
http://www.palmos.com/dev/core/

While most experienced Palm OS developers will avoid Cobalt for now, will it be confusing for new developers? PalmSource should really hire a web developer to quickly revamp their websites to their new strategies.

--
With great power comes great responsiblity.

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This engine more ROCKS than iPhone

uuhh @ 1/16/2007 2:13:44 AM # Q
BRING COBALT BACK !!!

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