The Egregious Incompetence of Palm Editorial
Roughly Drafted Magazine has written a fascinating piece sure to fan the flames of the Palm vs. Windows Mobile vs. Symbian vs. Linux vs. et al smartphone OS debate. For those not in an argumentative or finger-pointing mood, the article makes for a great quick and dirty summation of events through the platform's past decade.
Beginning with the formative years of Jeff Hawkins and Palm Computing, the piece acknowledges the early maneuverings of Hawkins such as his work at GRiD and the spectacular flameout of the Casio/Tandy Zoomer. The article then goes on to give a fairly accurate view of the rise of Palm during its early years with USR, the 3Com acquisition and spin-off, and the increasingly dire situation from 2000 onwards. The article also serves up a collection of photos of various Palm OS devices, acting as a helpful guide for readers unfamiliar with the variety of Palm OS devices released in the past decade.
Special care is taken to mention the Apple Newton and eMate, seeing as how they were relative failures in the marketplace compared to the early Palm Pilots. Yet with the imminent launch of the iPhone, many industry pundits are predicting Apple's bold return to the "PDA" market to be the ironic final nail in the Treo's coffin. In fact, the Apple to Palm parallels evidenced in this piece are numerous and quite succinct: the parallels between NeXT to Handspring and Apple's Copland debacle mirroring the stillborn Cobalt OS being of particular interest.
Near the end of the timeline presented in the article, the author casts a huge shadow of doubt on Palm's dual-OS strategy. In addition, the opinion of the article's author aligns with the frequently voiced concern in the PIC comments board that Palm's Windows Mobile Treos have little in the way of differentiating features compared to other smartphones from competing licensees (the notable "JAWL" axiom).
Palm's licensing of Windows Mobile not only casts doubt upon its own plans for the Palm OS--it owns perpetual development rights to Garnet--but saddles the company with outside technology dependent upon the whims of Microsoft, and ensures that there is little differentiation between its products and those of other Windows Mobile licensees.
This article is must-read for anyone who more than a passing concern about the past, present, and possible future of the Palm OS. The article also makes an especially nice but brief complimentary companion piece to the informative-but-dated Piloting Palm book.