Group Sense Palm OS Smartphones Gone for Good

While little more than an interesting footnote in the minds of most Palm OS followers in the west, Group Sense Ltd. (aka GSPDA) released a handful of uniquely-styled GSM handsets running Palm OS 4.1.x and Garnet 5.x over the past several years under the Xplore moniker. Now the Inquirer is reporting (via TamsPalm) that all traces of any remaining legacy Palm OS-based products have been wiped from GSPDA's website. A sole Linux-based handset in decidedly dumbphone guise is the company's sole smartphone offering, a far cry from the large field of large-screened Palm OS-based smartphones it was fielding as recently as 2005/2006.

While claiming to have definitive plans to launch in the highly competitive North American market in 2005, nothing ever came of these efforts, despite several handsets sporting interesting formfactors and clamshell touchscreen smartphones with specs that generally trounced the Treo 650 and 600 available at the time. Their European plans date back as far as 2003 but it's uncertain if these devices ever enjoyed anything more than spotty retail availability, if any at all. The company worked closely with PalmSource in their earlier attempts to establish themselves as both a self-branded and ODM partner for other licensees looking to quickly create innovative Palm OS-based smartphones.

Long-time PIC follows will also recall the bizarre dual mentions in 2005 suggesting either Oswin (a subsidiary operation of Group Sense) and/or Group Sense could lay claim to be the first company to hit the market with a smartphone running the much-maligned, never-released Palm OS Cobalt/OS6 from PalmSource.

At any rate, while it's no surprise to see the quiet passing of a unique line of Palm OS-based smartphones that like offered plenty of hit or miss styling cues and performance quirks, it's just another sad reminder of the lost promise of the stillborn Cobalt OS. Even taking the tantalizing glimpses of Cobalt hardware that was close to being market-ready out of the picture, reviewing GSPDA's 2003-2005 efforts indicates the rather rapid decline the Palm OS ecosystem has been experiencing over the past several years as the constricting playing field forced out a a variety of unique hardware licensees and only Palm Inc remains presently.

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Abandoning ship here too...

Solo @ 7/9/2008 4:40:27 PM # Q
I've been with Palm since the beginning, read most of the news posted here over the last 10 years or so. Anticipating each new Palm, Visor or Treo, but Centro's - nahhhh I am going forward, not backward. My Treo 680 was fun for the latter part, but hardware-wise it looks more and more like an antique and nothing has happenned software-wise since the last 12 months...

All the buzzing and the excitment that was really stimulating Palm software developpers are moving toward the Iphone at fast moving pace (watch the excitment the Iphone store is gonna generate) - so Friday, I am switching to Steven Job gadgetry me too.


P.S.: By the way up here in Canada, 299$ for a new phone is quite a deal. I paid multiple times over 600$ for the latest and newest Palm... and over 400$ for Palm phones.

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
mikecane @ 7/9/2008 8:00:14 PM # Q
Come see what the 2007 iPhone intro looked like in 56 pictures:

Hell, I bet even Ed Colligan stood on line.

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
freakout @ 7/9/2008 8:59:13 PM # Q
^^ Bloody hell. And I thought the opening of the Sydney Apple Store was bad. WTF is wrong with these people? They're lining up for a phone, for pity's sake.

If there was a cut-price opening day sale or an in-store appearance by U2, maybe it'd make sense...

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
Solo @ 7/9/2008 9:12:29 PM # Q
Nah - not that much as a fan, at worst, I'll wait till Saturday!

Are you going for the new phone Mike? I cannot wait to see what apps the developer will get out with the 3G and the GPS and the accelerometer and... I have the feeling it will be like the beginning of Palm where my Home Page on Netscape was Palm Gear and each week a cool new app was coming...

jeffhoward001 @ 7/9/2008 9:33:48 PM # Q
lol... I don't even own a LD, but it was pretty funny seeing it in the pic with the iPhone. You know what's sad though? With Dimtry's new PowerDrive and SDHC drivers for the LifeDrive, you can have 48-64GB of storage on your LD for around $150...

Makes you wonder why Apple only offered an 8GB iPhone last year then a 16/32GB this year... Ding! Because they just love selling you the next version for another $300 :-)

I'll pass on the iPhone... It's Ok, but not that great for business use (from what other users at my company say). We'll see about the new rev of the iPhone... For some reason I'm just generally annoyed by Apple products, so my opinion may be a little skewed.

- Jeff

Tungsten T -> Palm TX -> TX & Centro (Good combo so far!)

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
SeldomVisitor @ 7/10/2008 7:06:43 AM # Q
> ...I cannot wait to see what apps the developer will get out
> with the 3G and the GPS and the accelerometer and...


RE: Abandoning ship here too...
mikecane @ 7/10/2008 9:43:17 AM # Q
>>>you can have 48-64GB of storage on your LD

Listen, I don't even fill the 4GB internal and 1GB external! The device is CRAP TO USE! If I could be sure I could downgrade by current DBs back to OS 4, I'd DUMP the frikkin LD and GO BACK to my monochrome CLIE S320!! No, I'm NOT kidding! That CLIE was a JOY to use. The LD is HELL!

Yeah, what was funny about iDay was the 1,000 or so people lined up at Soho, gone within an *hour*, and I could just walk right in without any waiting.

Tomorrow's iDay is scheduled for an 8AM start, I think. Bugger that. I won't be covering it. WTF is Apple thinking? That people should take off from work?! (They probably will, anyway.)

As for the App Store, dammit: Apple tells me my 7.6.2 iTunes is the latest version. Yet 7.7 is one that can access the App Store. GRRRRR!

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
Gekko @ 7/10/2008 9:59:48 AM # Q

my life currently fits in 18.2 MB. i'm a minimalist. but i do have a 128 MB RAM centro and two 2GB microSD cards.

Clutter (unnecessary junk) eats you physically and mentally.

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
Gekko @ 7/10/2008 10:10:08 AM # Q

i could have got an iphone. however, i think iphone is more of a toy and palm is more of a tool. toys are fun, but right now, i need a tool. maybe someday i can have a toy but today is not the day. i need a device with best in class PIM management. i need a device which OS/PIM manager i know and am already in harmony with. i don't want to learn a new device and all that goes along with it. i need a flexible OS without the idiosyncrasies of Apple, Inc. also, i like my Sprint $99/month all you can eat voice/data/text/gps plan. i like my $99 centro. nothing fancy, nothing flashy, it just works.

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
PacManFoo @ 7/10/2008 10:37:34 AM # Q
i like my $99 centro. nothing fancy, nothing flashy, it just works.

And it's cute as a button. Plus all the middle school kids think it's keeewl.

The last known classic PDA user.
I've recently upgraded from a Palm TX to a Newton MP2000!
RE: Abandoning ship here too...
mikecane @ 7/10/2008 7:03:29 PM # Q
Gekko: Have you been to the App Store yet? Bloomberg. For free.

And Pocket Informant is coming to iPhone. (No, not free.)

Now which phone is the toy, fool?

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
mikecane @ 7/10/2008 8:02:14 PM # Q
Blooooooooomberg, Gekko.

Can your Centro do that? Nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
Gekko @ 7/10/2008 8:17:00 PM # Q

i think iphone can stream this -

my centro can't.

yes, that does suck.

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
Solo @ 7/10/2008 10:04:58 PM # Q
Yeah - I never owned any Apple products, but with all the major smartphones having GPS and WiFi (and badly needing both)... I couldn't stay with old faithful Garnet and wait 18 months for NOVA (or whatever it's gonna be called)... I was really a Palm OS believer, not really a Palm inc. fan. So I prefer going with Apple, than having the learning curve of WinMo or BBerry or wait for a new OS as Android or ALP with their probable infancy problems.

.. and seeing Splash ID going to IPhone makes me grin...

Live! From the Fifth Ave. iPhone line
Gekko @ 7/11/2008 8:11:53 AM # Q

is that mike cane there in the yankees visor, bon jovi t-shirt, and bad mustache?

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
mikecane @ 7/11/2008 9:24:54 AM # Q

RE: Abandoning ship here too...
Solo @ 7/11/2008 10:52:21 AM # Q
I'm not sure, he doesn't hold a Life Drive in his other hand ;)

Reply to this comment

I got one...

lthaler @ 7/10/2008 1:06:47 AM # Q
I got one, the M68, os5 based, sold in europe under the Hagenuk brand, was the best palm device I ever had...

Reply to this comment

Palm has until October 1

XenophonJones @ 7/10/2008 2:23:29 PM # Q
I skipped iPhone version 1, as it was all too obvious that 3G would be coming, and my trusty little Treo 650 was still holding up alright. I have to say that little Treo still works as well as it ever has (and it has been a VERY faithful companion for the last 3+ years). But its advantages over the iPhone are slowly disappearing, and if Palm doesn't release some solid, bankable details by Oct. 1 (when I can next do a hardware upgrade with AT&T), I'll be all over the iPhone 3G like ugly on an ape: iPhone now supports Russian, so I can SMS my in-laws (that was only possible through 3rd party utilities with Palm, and there's no chance in hell that Nova's backward compatibility will maintain that functionality); and now that the real web browsing has been paired with 3G speed and GPS, the good old Treo just doesn't offer nearly the same utility. Microsoft Office document editing through Documents to Go was nice in principle but never really used in reality.
As far as PIM applications and synchronization go, I'm stuck with Mac's crappy Sync Services no matter what I do: Microsoft gave up on the dedicated PDA-sync conduit for Mac when they released Entourage 2008, and I have no confidence in Palm's ability or inclination to do anything but carry out a minimum-effort implementation of compatibility with Sync Services. Does anyone know if PocketMac's GoBetween for Entourage actually do what it says? Whether I wait for Palm or jump ship to iPhone, I'd still like quality syncing with Entourage as I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate iCal/Address Book.
Reply to this comment

How's GroupSense is doing?

asiayeah @ 7/10/2008 7:32:20 PM # Q
With their only offering on a single phone, I wonder how well GroupSense is doing.

BTW, their only offering is a linux-based WIFI phone for VoIP running the SIP protocol. It's mostly for the home or enterprise market to use indoor.

With great power comes great responsiblity.

Reply to this comment

GSPDA To Deliver First Palm OS Cobalt Smartphone?

Gekko @ 7/10/2008 8:26:51 PM # Q

ah, arguments of times past. so long ago i can't even remember who was defending palm/access/cobalt/gspda.....nostalgic? just search for cobalt or gspda or nagel on PIC. it just goes to show you that, all of this ultimately, one day, will be dust.

GSPDA To Deliver First Palm OS Cobalt Smartphone?
Posted By: Ryan on Monday, February 21, 2005 10:31:16 AM

During a weekend Palm Users group meeting in Paris a representative from GSPDA announced in response to a user question that Group Sense PDA will be the first licensee to release a smartphone using Palm OS Cobalt.

The PUG meeting was this past Saturday in Paris and was organized by the Paris PUG and PalmSource. Tim Wong, the marketing manager for GSPDA made a presentation on the company's most recent smartphone the Xplore M68.

Someone in attendance asked if GSPDA was planing to released a Cobalt smartphone. After having hesitated a few seconds, Tim said that GSPDA will be the first manufacturer to released a smartphone using Cobalt, before the end of the year. He also further clarified that they would be the first to release a Cobalt smartphone, leaving open the possibility that another licensee could bring a cobalt handheld to market before GSPDA.

RE: GSPDA To Deliver First Palm OS Cobalt Smartphone?
SeldomVisitor @ 7/11/2008 8:06:13 AM # Q
I'm still waiting for the Samsung Cobalt-descendent phone.

Actually, I =think= it's supposed to be Samsung - I wasn't paying close enough attention to the 43 posts about it to remember.

RE: GSPDA To Deliver First Palm OS Cobalt Smartphone?
mikecane @ 7/11/2008 9:26:22 AM # Q
There was someone who actually BOUGHT a damned Cobalt phone, promised a writeup, and frikkin DISAPPEARED! I'd *still* like a damned writeup, dammit!!!

RE: GSPDA To Deliver First Palm OS Cobalt Smartphone?
hkklife @ 7/11/2008 10:05:31 AM # Q

Wait do you mean the Samsung i800 handset that Lefty claimed was supposedly coming in the May/June timeframe on Orange? That date came & went with nary a peep and I am unfortunately starting to have serious doubts we'll hear anything else out of the ALP camp. A shame, as it looked like a pretty solid effort but all of this stuff hinges so much on carrier support and we ALL know that's a huge reason for handset innovation to be stiffled nowadays.

Otherwise, I cannot recall what you are specificallyu referring to, as Samsung canned their Palm OS anything-based line after the tragically aborted i500/505.

I DO NOT recall (but am not doubting your claim) ever seeing anyone reputable on PIC or elsewhere claiming to have purchaed a Cobalt phone. Now, I think I recall someone intending to do a write-up about it after fondling one at length during some kind of PUG event or something.

I still vividly recall ALL Cobalt-related chatter suddenly dying off altogether in the May/June '05 timeframe. This was about the last interesting snippet that wasn't pure fanboy speculation or conjecture:

It's just mind-boggling to believe that after all of these Chinese handsets running various builds of Cobalt/OS 6 over the years, not a single one has ended up in someone's hands who could have done a thorough dissection/review of what could have been. We get one-of-a-kind prototype Atari 2600 ROMs leaked out after 25+ years sitting in a closet but we cannot get a detailed review of a production-ready Cobalt handset from 2005. Sheesh!

Pilot 1000->Pilot 5000->PalmPilot Pro->IIIe->Vx->m505->T|T->T|T2->T|C->T|T3->T|T5->Zodiac 2->TX->Verizon Treo 700P->Verizon Treo 755p

RE: GSPDA To Deliver First Palm OS Cobalt Smartphone?
Gekko @ 7/11/2008 11:43:59 AM # Q

the only known cobalt phone user -

RE: GSPDA To Deliver First Palm OS Cobalt Smartphone?
mikecane @ 7/11/2008 12:00:08 PM # Q
Someone bought this one:

I'm not inclined to dig further through PIC for the proof. But it's there.

Gekko, that picture cracked me up. How did you ever get Nagel to pose for you?!

Reply to this comment

Palm Inc. is not the only licensee

JVB @ 7/11/2008 12:05:50 PM # Q
> "... indicates the rather rapid decline the Palm OS ecosystem has been experiencing
> over the past several years as the constricting playing field forced out a
> variety of unique hardware licensees and only Palm Inc remains presently."

Aceeca and Janam are still making PalmOS based handhelds (although both have new products based on Windows CE).

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