PalmSource Considering Laptop Licensee

Recent comments made by David Nagel at the PalmSource European Developer conference, hint at the possibility that the Palm OS may end up in a full size laptop in the not so distant future.

A report on ZDNet UK puts together some of the comments made by Nagel at the conference. He told ZDNet UK that the laptop era is over. "We are in the post PC era now -- PCs have become too complex, partly by design," he said. He said the company is considering bringing in a hardware partner that would produce a Palm OS-based device to rival traditional laptops.

"We think our platform is flexible enough to support this kind of device," he said. "A number of us inside the company are hoping a licensee will show up who wants to make a true notebook."

Many thanks to Gaurav for the tip!

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Argh! That Nagel!

mikecane @ 9/25/2003 9:17:32 AM #
If he keeps hinting at stuff like this, I won't have anything to put in my Predictions article!

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
plm922 @ 9/25/2003 9:30:43 AM #
How cool is that? I would welcome an ultralight, thin, long battery life notebook based on the Palm OS. I've been thinking that Palm OS would be perfect for a tablet...think of the following specs.

Palm OS 6
640 x 480 screen (VGA)
built in Wi-Fi
otherwise...same hardware specs as hi end palm devices.

I think about having a small light tablet like this in my hands so I can roam around my house hooked into the wireless network...hooked up to my high speed internet access and browse the web or access files on my PC.

Palm! I think this would be a hit.

reformed lurker

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
NikMan @ 9/25/2003 9:32:26 AM #
he should be thinking about mobile phones now, not laptops. In mobile world he could win Symbian and PPC, but with that ideas he will collapse the whole Palm company.

Tablets! PLEASE!
dschuetz @ 9/25/2003 9:44:13 AM #
I agree, a slim, lightweight, instant-on tablet would make me incredibly happy.

I'd even say a bit larger than VGA, maybe 800x600 or even 1024x768, though that impacts battery life. A cradle with built-in charger and WiFi port, and a "screensaver cradle mode" that turns it into an electronic picture frame. Keep it in the family room for argument-settling IMDB visits while the TiVo is paused.

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
crustyedgeofinnovation @ 9/25/2003 9:48:24 AM #
this would absolutely be great.
RE: Whats new on this?
Georg @ 9/25/2003 9:54:08 AM #
Nothing new on this!!!!
It´s common know how, that palm OS5 can run on 640x480
It just need to be written an screen driver for the Laptops which run PPC OS. PalmOS 6 will be enabelt anyway. Have seen an prototype 6 month ago! But anyway, where is the beef?????

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
jjsoh @ 9/25/2003 10:20:08 AM #
Or perhaps they'll just use the obtained code from beOS and use that instead? Just Palm-ize the GUI, and keep the beOS kernel, and I don't see it being too far into the future. :)

Who knows?... maybe they already have been working on a prototype ever since they purchased beOS a few years back.


RE: Argh! That Nagel!
Nate @ 9/25/2003 10:25:08 AM #
I would have to assume that Alphsmart is already working on a redesign of the Dana. They have improved it with the WiFi, but surprisingly haven't come out with a color version or anything that runs OS5. But if they could do it right -- a OS6 unit with a 10"-12" transflective color screen, battery that would last 8 hours, that weighed less than 3 lbs -- I think they'd do extremely well in the education market and with business users looking for something really efficient on the road.

It could do to the Apple eMate what the PalmPilot did to the Newton.

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
plm922 @ 9/25/2003 10:35:56 AM #
I would like to see a tablet version without the keyboard, or even with one of the nice foldable keyboards....for sitting on the couch surfing the web, I don't need the extra bulk. I nice thin and light tablet would be the key.

reformed lurker
RE: Argh! That Nagel!
arielb @ 9/25/2003 10:52:41 AM #
nikman he is thinking about mobile phones-where were you yesterday?

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
Uncle Steve @ 9/25/2003 11:02:29 AM #
Not a full-size notebook but screen size midway between a handheld and a laptop. Just enough for a full-size keyboard (or a flip-out expandable keyboard).

Long battery life!

No bootup time!
No bootup time!
No bootup time!

It doesn't sound like Alphasmart...
JonAcheson @ 9/25/2003 11:18:56 AM #
I don't know about this being a new Alphasmart device. It would be nice if it were, but Alphasmart is a niche market company, not a mass-market company. Plus, the phrasing makes me think "new vendor."

"All opinions posted are my own, and not those of my employers, who are appalled."

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
statik @ 9/25/2003 11:20:26 AM #
Or even a tablet with a thumbboard so you can type without needing to put it down on a table.

(Think of a Tungsten C, but with a screen 4-6 times as large)

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
MarcosV @ 9/25/2003 11:23:46 AM #

This could be huge indeed, but I'm thinking a huge potential market would be the baby boomers.. my parents spend $1000 on a desktop computer just to check email every so often and do some very light browsing on the internet. It takes up tons of space and isn't used to its potential.

A Palm laptop could have mave mass appeal to this crowd, especially with a built in 56K modem. Not everyone is on broadband with WiFi just yet...

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
Nate @ 9/25/2003 12:54:09 PM #
No, I don't think that Alphasmart is the company he's referring to either. They have more experience with this sort of device than any other licensee, and they probably have the distribution channels to capitalize on such a device, but they are too small probably to make a big splash.

I just like Alphasmart (for some reason) and would hope that they could get in on this action. I don't want to see them go the way of Handera.

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
yvonnickb @ 9/25/2003 4:26:37 PM #
It's probably just a dream, but imagine the vadem clio (now property of Pinax Group )with palmos6 !! sure it will interest lot of users... and I will be the first!
TTrules @ 9/25/2003 5:38:46 PM #
Finnaly!! That's all I have to say.

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
jodihansen @ 9/25/2003 7:51:37 PM #
That is so cool. I dreamed of this only yesterday. What a coincidence.
I think that a laptop smaller than the traditional laptop would be the go, but with a good resolution.
Way to go PalmSource.
I hope that this goes ahead.
I'll buy one!!!!


RE: Argh! That Nagel!
davidv @ 9/26/2003 12:30:52 AM #
Any of you folks remember the PSION 7/Psion Workbook.

Psion (nay Symbian)OS in a mini-laptop. Small light and instant on. Was launched about 5 years ago I think and still available?

Would still be great though. Instant on!! Yes.

dave the rave

TT is an evolutionary product yet still true to the Palm concept.Brilliant.

Roadmap to Palm's survival
The Ugly Truth @ 9/26/2003 1:26:00 AM #
This sounds familiar:

"5) Want to get innovative? How about pushing Palms as a low cost laptop alternative? A clone of the CLIE UX50 with a slightly bigger screen, CompactFlash and SD slots, 802.11b, Bluetooth and Word/Excel/Powerpoint apps is all the "laptop" a lot of employees really need. Cheap to buy, cheap to support. A TCO dream come true."

I like this one, although you have to be careful to market it as a device for certain tasks people do with a laptop, rather than as a full PC. Otherwise you end up with the HPC syndrome.

CCO, PalmSource

While people like Mr. Mace may manage to keep Palm afloat over the next year, it is disappointing to see that Palm apparently doesn't already have a device like this in the pipeline. A PalmTop™ seems like too obvious an idea to not have been developed years ago. (What does Palm's R + D department do all day?)

Since Palm seems to have suddenly gained clarity of vision, perhaps they will soon be adopting the other suggestions given in the original post:

1) Release a 320 x 480, Vx-sized (thin, LIGHT) Palm ASAP. If you can't make it as small as a Vx, forget it. Despite what they say, size matters. Only a few fanatics will be submitting to those big, thick, heavy monsters that Sony is trying to ram down peoples' throats. Let Sony cater to suckers that want Monster Palms. Palm needs to get back to designing simple, elegant hardware that works for the way most people actually use their handhelds.

2) Make the Treo 600 available for $300 or less. If it's priced right, the Treo could become the new executive toy du jour - like the Vx was a few years ago. Price it much higher than $300 and watch it be ignored by everyone except the few hundred people that read Palm fan sites. The Treo 600 (or its immediate successor) may save Palm as long as the desire for quick profits doesn't win out over The Big Picture.

3) Stop the redundancy in Palm's software portfolio. Pick the best of breed apps and stick with them. If you really want to show what Palms can do, get users Hooked On Palm by creating a licensed suite of the best freeware and shareware Palm apps/games/utilities and bundling them with every Palm sold. I'd suggest looking at including as many of these as could be licensed for a reasonable price: Bejeweled, DiddleBug, HandyShopper, iSilo, Open, Vexed, Vindigo, YAUC, Zagat. Others - like APCalc, DateBk5, FindHack, LauncherX, McFile, TealLock, TealScript, To Do PLUS, Ultrasoft Money and Uninstall Manager - would make good replacements for those ancient original Palm ROM apps that do the same job. Sure, bundling hurts other developers, but it's all about survival of the fittest. Just look at what Microsoft has done over the years.

4) Stop skimping on the RAM. Yes, I know you want to sell SD cards, but at this point there's no excuse for releasing any PDA with less than 64 MB RAM.

5) Want to get innovative? How about pushing Palms as a low cost laptop alternative? A clone of the CLIE UX50 with a slightly bigger screen, CompactFlash and SD slots, 802.11b, Bluetooth and Word/Excel/Powerpoint apps is all the "laptop" a lot of employees really need. Cheap to buy, cheap to support. A TCO dream come true.

6) Hire what's left of the HandEra software engineering staff and use them to make some real improvements in the Palm OS. The "Zen of Palm" spin just doesn't cut it these days. Unfortunately, I envision a whole lotta current apps breaking if Palm finally advances the OS to where it needs to go.

7) Fear Microsoft. Palm's historical dominance in handhelds won't mean much if Microsoft starts giving away basic PPCs with every copy of Office. Don't think they can't or won't just buy the PDA market outright. The petty cash fund in Redmond could probably cover what was spent on worldwide sales of all PDAs last year.

8) Fear Nokia. Cellphones are already doing what most people use their Palms for. The average Joe isn't going to buy a Palm if their "free" cellphone comes with an address book, to do list, memo pad, date book, digital camera and games. Only geeks will be willing to carry two devices.

9) Adhere to the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Most Palm users never even use any programs other than the built in apps for a reason: Palms are almost perfect "as is". Just make them smaller, lighter, faster and more integrated with cellphones, digital cameras and MP3 players. Sound easy doesn't it?

10) Don't wait too long before selling out to Sony. A purchase for 800 million within the next six months - say, January 15, 2004 - sounds like a good way to exit stage left. Don't let me down - baby needs new shoes...

(The invoice for my consulting fee is in the mail and is due upon receipt. Remit cash payments only please - no checks or Handspring stock accepted.)

Armchair analyst

Sometimes the truth just isn't pretty™

2004 Sony CLIE UX90 PalmTop
The Ugly Truth @ 9/26/2003 2:12:20 AM #
- Same size as CLIE UX50
- 128 MB user-accessible RAM
- Larger 480 x 320 screen with portrait mode
- 1.3 megapixel camera with flash
- MP3 player
- Dual Memory Stick/CompactFlash slots
- 802.11b and Bluetooth(less)
- Word/Excel/Powerpoint/proxyless web browser
- Improved keyboard
- Video recorder (optional)
- TV tuner (optional)
- Black metal case


Build it and they will cum.

Sometimes the truth just isn't pretty™

RE: Argh! That Nagel!
helf @ 9/26/2003 12:24:53 PM #
Why do you people always add "mp3 player" ? Why don't you add "headphone jack". palms havent had 'MP3 players' since the older sony's.....

Sounds like this is a year off.

ganoe @ 9/25/2003 10:11:09 AM #
If he's just now talking about the company "considering bringing in a hardware partner" then there's no way we see this anytime soon. Too bad. I had hoped this was already in the works.

Why not Sony ???

Solo @ 9/25/2003 10:53:24 AM #
I am not a Sony fan, but their Vaio line of Notebook is very nice looking. Why not do something even simpler with a Palm OS in it.

They are probably the one who could develop something interesting the fastest at an interesting price point.

... and doing so, I am sure they would love to hit MS who is trying to lure away their gaming market with its X-Box.

P.S. : If only they could put a SD Card instead of a Memory Stick in it....

Just like Dire Straits sang so long ago in their hit, Money For Nothing : "I want my, I want my, I want my MTV." Same thing now, but different lyrics : " I want my MP3 software".

RE: Why not Sony ???
Solo @ 9/25/2003 10:57:12 AM #
Sorry for the signature, I've not been posting for a while... lolll
RE: Why not Sony ???
jjsoh @ 9/25/2003 12:47:32 PM #
but their Vaio line of Notebook is very nice looking.

And usually, that's all it is. In my experience, having supported SONY branded computers for a while, they give me nothing but trouble (mostly hardware problems). Their official site doesn't help much either when I'm trying to download patches/updates for software incompatibility.

IMHO, they're second worst right under Compaq (desktops/laptops, not servers).

They are probably the one who could develop something interesting the fastest at an interesting price point.

Maybe they can, but they wouldn't be doing a good job supporting it, if their current and past supporting trends are any indication.

... and doing so, I am sure they would love to hit MS who is trying to lure away their gaming market with its X-Box.

MSFT is in no way catching up with SONY in gaming. MSFT has a better chance beating out Nintendo (if they aren't already). I don't think SONY is worried about the X-Box, which is a total flop in Japan (that is, at least not until the next generation of gaming consoles are revealed).

P.S. : If only they could put a SD Card instead of a Memory Stick in it....



RE: Why not Sony ???
bobes @ 9/25/2003 6:42:25 PM #
A Sony Clie with U101 form factor would be sweet.

RE: Why not Sony ???
RhinoSteve @ 9/29/2003 11:41:05 PM #
I am convinced that there is a VIAO, PalmOS laptop prototype somewhere in the bowels of Sony PDA engineering. The question is who will green light the release?


sub_tex @ 9/25/2003 11:02:25 AM #
"...hoping a licensee will show up who wants to make a true notebook."

sub_tex @ 9/25/2003 11:06:11 AM #
whoops, double post here, sorry.

LiveFaith @ 9/25/2003 10:32:52 PM #

My source could not (would not) reveal the hardware vendor, but a Photoshop expert may be able to pull it out. Here are a few specs he revealed on the laptop:
> Touchpad pointer
> 101 keyboard
> IR port
> SD slot
> 19.2k modem
> Universal Connector II
> 160x160 monochrome (no backlight)
> Expanded 8k memo limit
> Large 2k clipboard limit
> 16mb ram
> Static grafitti area
> Mono headphone jack
> OS 4.2L (laptop)
> 75mhz Dragonball ZZ
> 2400mah nimh battery (non-replaceable)
** Estimate 3.2 years battery life.

Pat Horne;

LiveFaith @ 9/25/2003 11:09:48 PM #
That was a joke.

Seriously, this notebook idea would be fabulous in Palm OS w/ multitask! Imagine a 15oz device with 128mb ram, 3/4" thick folded, 7" x 9" folded, "full" keyboard, 800x600, Docs2Go6, SD, CF, wifi, bt, ir, e-mail, web, modem. Don't bloat it, don't complicate it but simplify it so that my mom could read ebooks, surf and get mail on it with zero learning curve.

This would truly be an INSTANT ON/OFF "notebook" that could change this totally screwball "boot + wait + load + wait + bloat + wait + freeze + wait + service pack + crash + wait + hourglass ..." computing world that we are imprisoned in.

Sure it's not going to have the power of a P4, storage of a 120gb drive nor 19" lcd. But 90% of real productivity could happen this way ... and fast!

Recently, I started and typed a quick document on my kid's (my old) Compaq 486 with Win31 & MSWordWin v2.0. I was amazed at how "simple" and quick it was compared to my PIII, XP, MSWordXP with that little flaoting clipboard idiot! Now which system is more powerful? For getting that document done, the 486.

Just visualize a Palm OS laptop with no harddrive light, no hourglasses, no waiting ... and it all does 95% of what we'll ever use. I believe!

Pat Horne;

"True" file handling?

sub_tex @ 9/25/2003 11:02:25 AM #
"...hoping a licensee will show up who wants to make a true notebook."

Until you let the OS handle files like users are used to when using their computers, a laptop with Palm OS would just be frustrating instead of helpful when you tryo to do anything other than view web pages and email.

Once you put me in front of a laptop with a keyboard I'll be expecting a lot more control than I would with a PDA.

Either that or sell it for $500. But this has Win CE written all over it. And we all know how well $1200 "laptop-like" devices sell.

RE: Open filesystem dead?
ronpro @ 9/25/2003 11:13:20 AM #
I disagree. Although compter savy folks such as ourselves are quite comfortable with file systems. I work with and know a lot of people who just don't get it -- folders and all. For people like that, something like the palm OS is great because the 'file system' (I use the term loosely) is not exposed to the user. One less thing to have to learn. Ever since I first picked up a Palm I've been convinced that this will be the way of the future.

Hell, for that matter. I think in the future, the average user won't even know anything about operating systems. The end-user experience will be VERY SIMPLE!


RE: True File Handling.
statik @ 9/25/2003 11:15:31 AM #
With Palm OS 6, the file handling will be there.

I see this as a possible big winner in the vertical application business market.

We tried using Win XP tablets at my company and found that they didn't meet our needs for several reasons. 1) Purchase Cost, 2) Battery Life, 3) Support cost, 4) Weight, 5) Data input speed.

If Palm could address the above, then I think they could have an awesome tool.

sub_tex @ 9/25/2003 11:41:03 AM #
Even if the file handling is there, the price point is what would cripple these devices before they even had a chance.

They can't be anywhere near a laptop price. That's just obvious. A salesman trying to justify what the Palm 'laptop' can't do as to what a similarly priced notebook can do is going to have a hard time.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love a 6" tablet to mess with. But not running Palm OS in its current state.

RE: Cost
statik @ 9/25/2003 11:54:04 AM #
You're right. They can't compete on the initial hardware costs. The market is flooded with cheap Windows laptops.

Where they can compete is with the support costs.

Laptops and tablets are horrible to support from an IT view. Trying to get a user half way across the country to keep their laptop up to date with the latest service packs and virus protection is a nightmare. When was the last time you had to apply a critical patch on your Palm?

A simple (Palm OS based) laptop would be wonderful for businesses. It would let us IT geeks concentrate on supporting our applications, and not the OS.

RE: Cost
hotpaw4 @ 9/25/2003 12:20:34 PM #
Windows and linux laptops require a spindle or two and a lot more power hungry of a CPU to meet modern expectations. This adds cost and weight and greatly shortens battery life.

Something like a Tungsten C with 2 SD slots, a 3x larger display and a full size keyboard could weigh under a kilo and still give you over a days worth of battery life. Try getting anywhere near that with an under $700 laptop.

A PalmOS laptop might not make a great 3d gaming machine, but a 400+ ARM CPU has plenty of performance for basic web/email/note taking, and would be far more immune to viruses and misconfiguration than todays typical Wintel laptop.

Then again, a whole bunch of Windows CE hardware vendors tried something like this a few years ago and failed miserably, so something has to be done differently to succeed (even more agressive pricing?).

NikMan @ 9/25/2003 1:48:54 PM #
Mobile phones (smart phones I mean) are very important. We will do with them everything. Buying, operation, talking, bla bla ....

But i don't see any good news here with PalmOS.

Only Treo and Samsung! where are other hot phones?
Sony is using Symbian in P800 and future p810!!!

AzureGuy @ 9/25/2003 10:43:21 PM #
It would probably be cheaper to make a laptop/tablet like device powered by the Palm OS than it would be to make a regular laptop. As for this whole mobile obsession goin on around here, all I can say is ARGH, THEY'RE ANNOYING. I want a phone that is good at what it does, and only that, being a phone! Too many features just makes it less useful, and more complicated.
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