Will Palm OS 5 Be Based on the Symbian OS?

The Register is quoting Giga analyst and VP Rob Enderle who says that the reason Bill Maggs, Palm's Chief Technology Officer, just resigned was that he was opposed to an alliance with Symbian and now that he is out of the way, Palm might be basing its next OS on the Symbian OS.

If this is true, OS 5 will be the Palm user interface on top of Symbian's kernel and networking stacks.

This isn't a totally new development. Back in October 1999, Palm announced an agreement with Nokia to work together to create a smartphone that would use a combination of both the Symbian and Palm OS. Attendees at 1999's PalmSource Conference were told that joint APIs could be expected in mid-2000, but this never happened. According to Enderle, this was because former Palm CTO Maggs was opposed to the plan.

What Symbian has to offer to Palm is a software platform designed to be used as the basis for wireless information devices, delivering applications integrated with wireless telephony and data. This is exactly what Palm is developing in-house right now with OS 5.

Developing their own real-time wireless platform from the ground up is sure to be very expensive for Palm, but Symbian has already done all the work necessary to implement GPRS and Bluetooth already. Using their platform would free Palm to enhance the hardware and user interface, which is what it does best.

Symbian is a joint venture between Britain's Psion, Sweden's Ericsson, Finland's Nokia, Motorola, and Japan's Matsushita.

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Sad to se it all end?

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/17/2001 5:21:12 PM #
1 billion cell symbian os?=phones/pda is going to be the windows of pda/phones. As much as i Love palm os - the mass of cell phones is going to bee crushing.

I hope it's ont true.

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/17/2001 10:06:24 PM #
I hope it's ont true.


I.M. Anonymous @ 1/17/2001 11:22:10 PM #
I've thought this was a possibility since PalmSource '99 - since Symbian has done the strong-arm work, and Palm isn't really into building the kernel of the OS, this wouldn't surprise me. I do think it's only a matter of time for these two - M$ has a good OS but no real app/user interaction know-how, Palm has that pretty good, Symbian's close to Palm but their marketing hasn't been as good.

I don't think Maggs would quit over this - why don't people just realize that people who are in Silicon Valley and keep talking about how they'd be running their own company, well, they go to run their own company? People quit high-level jobs in the Valley all the time. This isn't news, folks!

Questions about Symbian

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/18/2001 12:53:07 AM #
Okay from what I've been reading on Symbian's site... what does this mean for palm as a whole? It seems like they will be more moblie internet oriented... which isn't really a bad thing if you ask me... but what difference will it make to the devices if they just use the kernel? It just means that the future of palm computing will be focused on wireless devices... *shrug* I don't see that as such a bad thing. Symbian has worked with Psion, Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia... and we've not heard very many complaints from any of those camps... if somebody can prove me wrong... please do

RE: Questions about Symbian
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/18/2001 9:58:07 AM #
Nah, I think your spot on. who really cares what the OS is, as a user its the interface that I deal with. The only concern is if the OS is to hungry, buggy, or just generally crap, however Psion and symbian are pretty good, so i doubt this will be a problem.

Sooo The CTO Is Going?'

Alienseamonkey @ 1/18/2001 10:26:16 AM #
Wasn't the CTO one of the original Palm people with Hawkins? I wonder if he's going over to Handspring?!
RE: Sooo The CTO Is Going?'
I.M. Anonymous @ 1/18/2001 10:59:34 AM #
No - he joined Palm a year ago. That's why I wonder why people are making such a big deal about this...

Palm OS 5 will not be "Symbian-based"

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/18/2001 11:22:34 AM #
I seriously doubt Palm will throw out all of their lower-level stuff and just put together a set of apps over another OS. Why? Because their business model insists they are an *OS company.* But Palm and the Symbian alliance do have a cross-licensing agreement, and Palm OS does badly need some overhauls if it wants to run well on ARM-based processors. It will need a new kernel. It will need to handle variable video resolutions (no more 160x160). It will need to be able to mount filesystems, new APIs for Bluetooth and other capabilities, etc. Some of the last stuff can/will be tacked onto Palm OS 4. But some of this stuff is pretty big, and with their cross-licensing deal, Palm can see how Symbian did something, and implement something similar or something completely different. Just because Palm OS will have similar code and/or APIs in certain places (assuming that actually happens) does not mean Palm OS will really be Symbian underneath.

BTW, ARM != StrongARM. Intel's StrongARM / XScale architecture is just one of the architectures designed by ARM Limited, based in the UK. Motorola licensed ARM technology to create a DragonBall-ARM processor from them. (http://www.arm.com)

RE: Palm OS 5 will not be
bcombee @ 1/18/2001 6:32:09 PM #
PalmOS 4.0 (and even parts of it on some vendor devices now) already deals with several of your wishes. It supports telephony, it has hooks (and code already written) for Bluetooth, it can mount filesystems, it deals better with internationalization, and it handles user interruptions nicely. This code is almost done -- a Symbian deal wouldn't give Palm anything.

As for non-160x160 devices -- I think they're ready. 160x240 looks very likely in near term (Samsung phone with soft grafitti, anyone?). The biggest issue is scaling the user interface and getting developer support. One advantage Palm has had has been the constant screen size, which makes developing for the device easier. PalmOS has had code to support changing the size since 3.0, it will just take a while to transition everyone.

On the ARM front, I think Palm knows whats its doing. The 3.5 port to evaluation ARM hardware looked very nice at PalmSource 2K. Having worked on ARM chips with Dragonball like features before, I don't think moving forward will be hard. Maintaining compatability with the past (and the very valuable legacy) is a big win, and using Symbian's OS core won't gain them much.

can it solve that 256 color barrier?

Phil @ 1/21/2001 2:35:02 AM #
can this new os solve the 256 color barrier on a IIIc ?
or is there another solution for this 8 bit to 16 bit problem?

Psion Up on Palm Linkup Hopes

Ed @ 1/29/2001 9:45:16 AM #
Here's some quotes from a Reuters' article:

    Shares in handheld computer maker Psion Plc bounced from an early setback on Monday, as talk of a possible fresh linkup with U.S. rival Palm swirled around the market, dealers said.

    A spokesman for Psion declined comment on reports of a possible further alliance with Palm.


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