An open letter to the Palm OS community from PalmSource
The following is a verbatim copy of a open letter to the Palm OS community just issued by PalmSource. Read on for more information about the new acquisition and FAQs about how PalmSource will use the new resources and the new Palm OS Cobalt version of Linux.
PalmSource, Inc. today announced that we're acquiring China MobileSoft Limited (CMS), a leading mobile phone software company with business operations headquartered with its subsidiary, MobileSoft Technology (Nanjing), in China, and with this step starting the next phase in the evolution of Palm OS®. We're very excited about this, and we wanted to give you some information on what it all means for the Palm OS community.
Before we get into the details, we want to emphasize our commitment to you. We owe our success in large part to the fantastic creativity and passion of Palm OS users, developers, licensees, and other business partners. We're very grateful for your support. Today's announcement expands the Palm Powered™ family, and is designed to bring you even better products and business opportunities in the future.
The center of our announcement today is that we're buying CMS. If you live outside China, you may not have heard of CMS, but it is a leader in the Chinese mobile software community. This acquisition will almost double our software development resources, and brings us new products and partners, especially in Asia, the world's biggest mobile market. With this change, PalmSource is no longer a predominantly US-centric company, we're a global company with major engineering centers in China, the US, and Europe.
The combination of PalmSource and CMS will give us the critical mass to make several changes we've been considering for some time. Many people in the Palm Powered™ economy have given us advice on topics like making our software available for lower-cost phones, increasing the rate of innovation in Palm OS, and getting more licensees. We can't change any of these things instantly, but we've been listening, and today we're starting down a new path.
Here are the changes we're making:
First, we plan to make the Palm OS look and feel and the PalmSource™ PIM applications available for all price classes of mobile phones, from entry level to high end. CMS and its subsidiaries already have a very wide range of mobile phone applications and a software platform for low-cost mobile phones, as well as a Linux-based smartphone offering. This software is used in a number of current and planned Chinese mobile phones. The CMS software programs will continue to be available, and in the future we plan to equip them with the Palm OS interface, PalmSource PIM functionality, and data compatibility with Palm OS -- and we'll be selling them worldwide.
Second, we intend to increase the rate of innovation in Palm OS, and the range of potential licensees, by making it available on Linux. The Palm OS user interface and the PalmSource PIM applications you know will remain, as well as the advanced features that we've built into Palm OS® Cobalt's software frameworks. Properly written Palm OS applications will also be able to run on Palm OS for Linux . We're making this change for several reasons:
Linux is intensely popular among electronics companies, especially in Asia, which is becoming the center of mobile device manufacturing. We think providing a Palm OS solution for Linux can help bring in more licensees.
- The rate of innovation in Linux is faster than anything a proprietary operating system company can do on its own; in the future, we think getting things like device drivers and support for new chips and components will be much easier. This change won't be directly visible to Palm OS users, but over time we think it should mean faster development of new types of devices.
- Providing solutions for Linux will allow our engineers to focus on improving the Palm OS interface, PalmSource™ PIM applications, and advanced software frameworks -- exactly the sort of user-visible innovation that many of you have been asking us for.
- Many corporations broadly deploy Linux on servers. Palm OS for Linux will let companies leverage that investment to support and deploy Palm Powered products to their employees.
Overall, by teaming up with the Linux community, we think we can build a mobile alliance with the scale and resources to compete globally against even the biggest mobile operating system companies.
Much of the PR for our announcement is focusing on the phone market, because phones are the fastest-growing mobile category. But we want you to know that our partnership with Linux is designed to benefit all types of Palm Powered devices. With Palm OS for Linux, we think it'll be much easier for licensees to add new features to their handhelds, smartphones, and other products. It should also be easier for them to create new classes of devices. Meanwhile, both Linux and Palm OS software developers should see a greatly expanded mobile market for their products.
To summarize, we've announced the following:
- We're buying a leading mobile phone software company in China.
- We plan to extend the Palm OS interface and PalmSource PIM applications to cover all phones.
- We plan to leverage CMS’s applications internationally
- We plan to make future versions of Palm OS® available for Linux. The things you know and love about Palm OS will be maintained, but you should get faster innovation and a wider range of Palm Powered™ devices.
Our overall goal remains the same: to create the world's best software for smart mobile devices, and to help our licensees create the world's best mobile products. What we're doing today expands the scope of that goal in almost all directions -- we will have more partners, we'll cover more types of product, and we'll have many more resources to get the work done.
As usual in any acquisition, there are still a lot of details to be worked out. We'll give you regular updates. In the meantime, following are answers to some likely questions:
Q. Can you give some background on CMS?
A. China MobileSoft Limited is a Bermuda-based holding company, founded in 2000, which owns 100% of MobileSoft Technology (Nanjing), the Chinese operating company. MobileSoft Technology was approved as a Wholly-Foreign Owned Enterprise (“WFOE”) under Chinese law in 2001. A WFOE qualifies for government incentives and is legally treated as a domestic company in China, even though it is funded from overseas. MobileSoft Technology offers a broad range of mobile phone software, from low end to high end. CCID Consulting, an arm of the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry, named the company one of the “30 Chinese Software Enterprises with the Most Growth Potential.”
Q. What are CMS' products?
A. CMS currently offers its customers a wide range of software for mobile phones, including more than a dozen phone applications, operating software for smart and feature phones, and has been developing a version of Linux optimized for mobile devices. In the future, the phone applications and phone software will be able to take advantage of the Palm OS® look and feel and data compatibility, extending the Palm OS ease-of-use to all classes of mobile phones, and will be made available worldwide. CMS and PalmSource customers will continue to be able to customize the user interface to meet the needs of their markets.
Q. Does Palm OS for Linux replace current versions of Palm OS?
A. This is an addition to our line, not a replacement. Other versions of Palm OS continue to be available. As always, we'll make decisions on their future growth path based on feedback from our licensees and other partners.
Q. Will this delay delivery of devices running Palm OS Cobalt?
A. No. Palm OS® Cobalt version 6.1 is already finished, and the software is in the hands of licensees. We expect devices based on it to ship in 2005.
Q. Why Linux?
A. PalmSource's business model has always been based on shared innovation and enabling partners to innovate. The Linux community has the same philosophy, so we think we're a good match for each other.
We think by offering Palm OS for Linux, we can attract more licensees and developers, create more new devices, and bring in more users than either could on its own. Linux has a large community of developers who innovate rapidly and support new technologies aggressively, far faster than any proprietary operating system company can on its own. We bring an award-winning user interface, software frameworks-based on the best of Palm OS® and BeOS®, a large base of professional and consumer applications, and a community of more than 25 million enthusiastic users and over 360,000 registered developers. We believe we can help mobile Linux move beyond the embedded space, and grow rapidly in the consumer and enterprise mobile markets.
We believe that together we'll have the technological and market critical mass to challenge, and beat, even the biggest proprietary operating system companies in the mobile market.
Q. Will existing applications continue to run?
A. We intend to continue to offer the Palm OS® Application Compatibility Environment (PACE), allowing properly written Palm OS 68k applications to run on future versions of the operating system.
Q. When will Palm OS for Linux ship?
A. We intend to provide more information at our developer conference in the Spring.
Q. If you're not shipping yet, why announce now that you’ll support Linux?
A. Our partners -- developers, licensees, operators, chip vendors, and so on -- need to know the long-term future of our software. The development cycle for mobile devices can be very long (for example, some of our licensees plan products up to two years ahead). This happens with almost all platforms. For example, Symbian has announced Symbian OS version 8, but most Symbian products are still based on Symbian 6. And Microsoft has been talking about the next version of Windows for years.
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