SFGate: Palm Needs Nova to Shine
Ominous-sounding "do or die" articles relating to Palm are nothing new or surprising these days. However, coming from the San Francisco Chronicle, a local paper from Palm's home turf, such an article merits further inspection. Written by Ryan Kim, who has covered Palm several times in the past for the Gate, the editorial entitled, "Palm Needs Nova to Shine" offers a few interesting morsels of new information and is overall a worthwhile read as the Palm faithful bide their time prior to Palm's huge CES announcement on Thursday.
First off, the piece reminds us that the "Nova" moniker is still very much a codename; the final release of the OS that appears on shipping devices may be coined something else entirely.
The usual quotes from industry analysts are also offered within the article, with discussion focusing on the moribund Garnet OS describing it as "…a geriatric case" and "…it hasn't kept pace with the iPhone or (Google) Androids of the world." Another quote, this one from Pablo Ferez-Fernandez of Global Crown Capital simply states: "There's no momentum behind Palm, there's really no room for Palm. If you ask new developers if they want to write for a marginalized company or a company like Apple, the answer is obvious."
Kim's article goes on to state that Nova will indeed replace the current Palm OS Garnet, not co-exist alongside it on low-cost devices such as the Centro as some had speculated with a possible three-prong approach by Palm (Nova, Garnet, Windows Mobile). Palm will continue to ship Windows Mobile-based devices, according to the article, likely due to the "little cost, no risk" involved with rebranded WinMob handsets that are primarily supported by Microsoft and still heavily favored in enterprise/corporate environments.
Hardware-wise, little new info is given in the piece aside from a tantalizing but all-too-brief reference to a possible "larger mobile Internet device" coming later from Palm. This vague description could be referencing anything from an iPhone-style handset to a larger tablet-sized device to a Foleo 2.0 netbook. Another distressing reminder of Palm's laggardly launch cycle is given later in the article when the mid-year 2009 date for new hardware is repeated by Kim. With Palm announcing recently that no new hardware is planned between now and the debut of the new platform, the 1st half of calendar year 2009 is unfortunately shaping up to be a tremendously dry season for Palm fans. Indeed, whatever is announced or shown later this week at CES may quite honestly not be available for purchase until May or June, close to an eternity in the smartphone world.
The SFGate piece concludes with another quote from Perez-Fenandez, reiterating the general consensus that Nova is the company's last chance to recapture their former glory and steal some marketshare from the increasingly bloodthirsty competition: "If they're not able to get handsets out that are appealing to the public, they're really going to have big trouble. The company could literally disappear if they don't do it."