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.