Tapwave Licenses the Palm OS

Tapwave LogoPalmSource today officially announced that Tapwave Inc. has licensed the Palm OS. At launch festivities last night in San Francisco, Tapwave officially launched their company and unveiled details on a Palm OS mobile entertainment gaming device.

Tapwave's first product offering, code-named Helix, will be available at retail and online in late 2003. According to a statement from the company, the final details and specifications will not be revealed until product introduction.

The device will be based on Palm OS 5.2 and will feature a 480 x 320 pixel screen, analog joystick navigation with integrated triggers and buttons, 3D graphics acceleration, stereo sound and Bluetooth for multiplayer wireless gaming.

The only specifications given by the company at this time include:

  • High-resolution 480 x 320 pixel screen, with portrait or landscape-mode display
  • i.MX1 Motorola ARM9 Processor
  • Analog controller, integrated triggers and a full complement of action buttons
  • Unique ergo-centric design, weighing less than 6 ounces
  • All-inclusive gaming environment with the Fathammer X-Forge 3D Game Engine
  • ATI Imageon graphics accelerator
  • Yamaha audio component, stereo speakers and earbud-style headphones
  • Dual lithium batteries
  • Rumble effects
  • Full-featured digital music player
  • Built-in Bluetooth networking for multiplayer wireless gaming
  • High-score conduit for community competition

Tapwave has created a comprehensive program to attract and support a broad range of developers and publishers from the professional video game industry and the Palm OS community. Tapwave is also in the process of licensing, developing and publishing premier video game titles from companies like Activision, Infogrames, Midway, and others.

"We chose Palm OS because it is the best platform on which to develop innovative, differentiated devices, it has the most game applications, and a fantastic community of developers," said Peng Lim, founder and chief executive officer for Tapwave Inc. "We look forward to building a long and prosperous relationship with PalmSource and to delivering new kinds of Palm Powered products that will take the Palm Economy to a whole different level."

Tapwave's leadership team includes the original engineering executives from Palm (e.g., the first VP of Engineering from Palm and her successor), lead marketing strategist from Palm and HP (PCs), and an executive producer from Electronic Arts.

"Entertainment continues to be a growing segment for Palm OS developers. Tapwave together with Palm OS provides a powerful combination that will propel the future of mobile entertainment to an unprecedented level with the ability to achieve console-like game play on handheld devices," said David Nagel, president and chief executive officer for PalmSource, Inc.

"Im VERY excited about Tapwaves device and the market opportunity," said Howard Tomlinson, CEO of Astraware. "I'm still a bit fazed about just how many of the 'wish list' suggestions seem to have made it into real hardware! Thanks for listening to developers."

No pricing information or final specifications will be available until the product debuts in late 2003. PIC will have more info as it develops.

Article Comments


The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. PalmInfocenter is not responsible for them in any way.
Please Login or register here to add your comments.

Comments Closed Comments Closed
This article is no longer accepting new comments.

Down View Full Comment Thread

Sounds Like a Winner!!!

Mr T @ 5/6/2003 1:03:01 AM #

RE: Sounds Like a Winner!!!
i2oadi2unnei2 @ 5/6/2003 1:40:10 AM #
This is very interesting! I'm keeping my eye out on this company!!

...|3eep |3eep!!...

RE: Sounds Like a Winner!!!
I.M Anonymous @ 5/6/2003 1:54:21 AM #
I just wish it had hardware 3D graphics acceleration, instead of the 2D Imageon and the software-based X-Forge.

RE: Sounds Like a Winner!!!
rsc1000 @ 5/6/2003 1:56:51 AM #
>>I just wish it had hardware 3D graphics acceleration, instead of the 2D Imageon and the software-based X-Forge.

I agree, but at least this way there is a chance that games developed for it will also be able to work on existing OS5 hardware.

TapeWave Helix Palm OS PDA
pdangel @ 5/6/2003 6:16:21 AM #
"Tapwave will be putting the operating system to use in a device, code-named Helix, that's due in the fourth quarter. The system will synchronize with a PC and have organizer functions, but it is primarily meant to be a portable gaming device. Helix, which will come with version 5.2 of the Palm OS, will have a built-in joystick and a color screen with a resolution of 320 by 480 pixels. It will also have built-in Bluetooth wireless support to allow people to participate in multiplayer games."

Palm Tungsten TW2: "This new TW2 should have 64 MB of RAM, Palm OS 5.2, a processor Xscale to him 400 MHz, and, one hopes for it, of capabilities WiFi and Bluetooth."

They talk about June as release date!?

Sprint PCS will unveil Bluetooth phone:
Overland Park-based Sprint PCS announced Tuesday that it will release its first Bluetooth-enabled phone sometime this quarter.

Apple is prepping the iSync 1.1 update, Think Secret is reporting. The update is expected to be ready for release later in May. The update will reportedly add support for a number of new Bluetooth and USB phones, as well as Safari bookmark sync. But more interesting is what's on tap for the future of iSync, beyond Version 1.1: over-the-air synchronization support over GSM or GPRS networks.

Taking Bluetooth for Granted

"There are 2 kind of people my friend....those with wires and those without"

Device price? Software supply?

yeefei @ 5/6/2003 2:04:19 AM #
It's a good idea to creat a mobile entertainment gaming device.
As a mobile gaming device,the device price and the game source is the big trouble.
How can the device compete with the GBA?

yeefei:What's the PDA can be?
I love PocketPalm!
RE: Device price? Software supply?
MSTCrowT @ 5/6/2003 2:59:20 AM #
The Gameboy SP is a toy. A Palm-based gaming device, on the other hand, will not draw quizzical looks from businessmen and women. They already play on their cell phones.

RE: Device price? Software supply?
BlueAnon @ 5/6/2003 3:29:21 AM #
That toy is $99 and has several thousand game titles.

This tapwave could be just repackaged Garmin iQue without the GPS and game-pad. (say, whatever happen to that garmin anyway?)

RE: Device price? Software supply?
iebnn @ 5/6/2003 3:45:02 AM #

That sounds like landscape

That means it might look like the original Game Boy Advance, or the Game Gear, or wonderswan, etc.

That will look more like a toy and will get more "quizzical looks" than the clamshell GBA SP would.. How are they supposed to know it's a Palm OS device when it's got buttons along the side and a dpad and the person is holding it on either side of the screen?

I'm really looking forward to developing for this, I have a pretty revolutionary game in the works for Palm OS (something never tried before.. one thing I'll say about it is that it uses a raycasting engine, but not in the way that other games like masterthief3d uses it). The 480x320 landscape view and graphics library could really help with this game... but it might make it exclusive to this device.

RE: Device price? Software supply?
kev @ 5/6/2003 9:38:55 AM #
excellent: sony now have a portable platform for their licensed games. no more nintendo pocket exclusivity

RE: Device price? Software supply?
jho4thclie @ 5/6/2003 10:41:08 AM #
Sony's goal is to be king of the PalmOS portable entertainment PDA market... I'd be surprised if they support their closest competitor (in this sub-market) with software.

RE: Device price? Software supply?
Tungsten @ 5/6/2003 12:25:31 PM #
I'll bite.

"The Gameboy SP is a toy."
It's a toy, and it shouldn't be anything more. With a massive library of 1000s of games going back 10 years, SP will continue being the gamer's choice. Don't blame Nintendo for having a monopoly, after all, they make good games. Games that deserve my money, unlike those amateurish attempts on PDAs.

The Gameboy has been challenged before, by old greats like Sega, NEC, Atari, Bandai and SNK. I hope the Tapwave does well, but it's more realistic to compare it to the GamePark32.

"A Palm-based gaming device, on the other hand, will not draw quizzical looks from businessmen and women."
You can't please everyone. These people have better things to do like sniffing the boss' rump. Otherwise, you should address your insecurity problems.

"They already play on their cell phones."
Who cares? If they're playing on the job, they should be fired anyway. By the way, who are "they"? Who are these incompetent business morons that you work with?

RE: Device price? Software supply?
arielb @ 5/6/2003 12:52:02 PM #
I'm surprised Sony didn't think of a gaming PDA first.

RE: Device price? Software supply?
amflores @ 5/6/2003 2:07:59 PM #
As far as I know, all the video game console manufacturers sell them at loss because they win their money on the game licences.

No matter how good the hardware -and we all know that to have a good hardware its no warranty of anything- Im not sure if this is going to be a success.

RE: Device price? Software supply?
BlueAnon @ 5/6/2003 2:13:56 PM #
Well obviously Sony figures the market is really not worth their effort. (ie. it won't fly as portable entertainment device. Sony should know, they are the king in that business)
RE: Device price? Software supply?
arielb @ 5/6/2003 4:15:19 PM #
Sony still has a few things to learn from the PDA world. They keep playing around with new designs and different types of buttons and they discontinue models at a pretty fast pace. That's not to say that everyone else figured it out-look at Palm...no look at Handspring! But the PDA world is still in its infancy and it's not too late for someone like Tapwave to come up with ideas that nobody else thought of before

RE: Device price? Software supply?
JonAcheson @ 5/11/2003 9:33:51 AM #
No, console manufacturers generally do not sell their consoles at a loss, despite urban myth. The exceptions I am aware of are the Dreamcast, which went out of business, and the XBox, which would also have gone out of business if Microsoft didn't have money to burn keeping it afloat.

Most successful consoles are sold at cost when they launch, and their manufacturing costs drop over time, making them more profitable. The companies do make most of their money on software, though.

Jon Acheson

"All opinions posted are my own, and not those of my employers, who are appalled."


oseiampadu @ 5/6/2003 4:29:23 AM #
Will the Helix be a straightforward gaming-device or will the regular PIM-functions of any other Palm OS device also be included?

RE: PIM-Functions???
iebnn @ 5/6/2003 5:48:18 AM #
Read it again - they will be included. It would not make sense as only a gaming device, since it would not really be able to compete with the GBA. It's not a GBA clone running Palm OS, it's a full Palm OS-based PDA with special hardware and software geared towards gaming, on top of the normal hardware/software found in a Palm OS unit. Palm OS would not have been used as the OS if this was a straight gaming platform.

RE: PIM-Functions???
AmrMan0628 @ 5/6/2003 8:55:44 PM #
Personally, I think even if this PDA doesn't go gamer... it's still an awesome PDA to own. I'm into having all the cool and new harware. I mean... this thing has ATI technology in it. Who wouldn't want to own that. On the Nintendo competition level though, I don't think this can compete as Nintendo does have the titles. What can compete with Mario, Zap!2016? But... I guess I can't really argue with the new Sonic games Palm is coming out with. But you gotta admit that all this tech in Palm OS would be pretty cool to own anyway.

-Come with an open mind

This could have VG

Verteron @ 5/6/2003 6:47:09 AM #
You realise, if this device can operate in 320x480 mode and 480x320 mode it almost certainly has VG. I doubt it has a keyboard (thanks to the controller) and I doubt it has a static Graffiti area because this would look weird playing games in landscape mode.

In portrait mode, if it looks like a reasonably sensible organiser-type device it could be the VG thin form factor for which everyone seems to be waiting.

RE: This could have VG
JKingGrim @ 5/6/2003 8:03:54 AM #
Palm Inc. will soon be the only licencee to not use VG. Grrrrr!

RE: This could have VG and DVD capabilities!
a3 @ 5/6/2003 8:24:15 AM #
If this device gives me a tablet style PDA with VG (i.e. a clie T615 with VG) plus an enhanced gaming experience I must say that my buying decision will not last a heartbeat.

Additionally: they say dual lithium batteries!!! if it has an SD slot I may be able to watch full length movies in landscape mode.

My airport waits will never look the same!!!

Just name the price!!!

Nothing: the worst you can do.

RE: This could have VG
mbergen @ 5/6/2003 11:08:54 AM #
I held and played with the unit at the launch party last night. It does have VG, and can be used in either landscape or portrait. In fact, the VG area can be moved to either side for lefties.

As for SD, it had dual SD/MMC slots.

What about form factor?
a3 @ 5/6/2003 11:28:24 AM #
Hey man, thanks a lot for sacrificing in our name... (i.e. going to a party and playing with a not yet released pda and then telling us about it).

Could you give us a hint on form factor. How big it is? clamshell or tablet?

Nothing: the worst you can do.

RE: This could have VG
Verteron @ 5/6/2003 12:16:37 PM #
> I held and played with the unit at the launch party last night.

So, does it look like a toy or a PDA? I hope for the later...

RE: This could have VG
JKingGrim @ 5/6/2003 2:56:43 PM #
>>I held and played with the unit at the launch party last night. It does have VG, and can be used in either landscape or portrait. In fact, the VG area can be moved to either side for lefties.

Does the screen sit in landscape? Cool. VG on the side. What, is the number area below the letter area? Did it have games loaded? Could you perhaps give a quick review?

RE: This could have VG
arielb @ 5/6/2003 7:03:55 PM #
there must be about 5 zillion palm enthusiasts who want a 320X480 device with no keyboard.

RE: This could have VG
Cold Slap of Reality @ 5/6/2003 10:59:03 PM #
Definately agree there. I think this units biggest sales will be with the scores of users annoyed at the lack of big screen VG devices. All the naysayers who continue to harp that this will never take Nintendo are right. It isn't supposed to. This is simply an extremely powerful handheld marketed to the power users who are tired of the "All work, a little bit of play" aura that every other POS handheld has had up until now. Spider Solitaire is no longer enough. This is a great new concept and will obviously sell like hotcakes -if- it doesn't look so much like a gameboy that you can't use it as your primary PDA in a contemporary office setting.


How about playing native MPEG-4

Wenda @ 5/6/2003 9:13:04 AM #
With many advances in Palm hardware engineering, why not think about playing native MPEG4 (divx) without having it to be converted to Kinoma or TealMovie format? It's nice to watch movie in 480*320 (16:9 format). The feature "Dual Li-Ion" battery is good because some games can cause addiction and as gamers they may need extra long life battery.

Nothing to kill or die for.
RE: How about playing native MPEG-4
rsc1000 @ 5/6/2003 2:21:57 PM #
while on topic, mmplayer has released version 1.2 (a beta version) of their media player, and it now supports mpeg(1&2) - in native format(no conversion to proprietary formats)! DivX and mpeg 4 support is coming. Mpeg playing is pretty buggy at this point (again - the video support is beta at this point) - but still cool and should be great when they get the bugs out.

you canb get it here:

Gameboy Advance costs $69

Mithras @ 5/6/2003 10:00:41 AM #
and has hundreds of games available.

How easy will it be to sell significant numbers of this device, which will costs at minimum $400?

RE: Gameboy Advance costs $69
drac @ 5/6/2003 10:17:15 AM #
No gameboy has PDA features.

Quoting the price of a Gameboy here is like responding to the launch of an innovative new racing motorbike by quoting the price of a scooter.

"If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each person's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1819-1892)

d r. a. c h a r l e s

RE: Gameboy Advance costs $69
helf @ 5/6/2003 10:17:21 AM #
Why do you think it would be priced that high? 250 is more probable.

RE: Gameboy Advance costs $69
drac @ 5/6/2003 10:19:08 AM #
I forgot to mention that Brighthand quotes anonymous sources as saying that the price will be $300 for a TapWave Helix with an integrated camera, and $200 for a Helix without a camera.

"If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each person's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, (1819-1892)

d r. a. c h a r l e s

RE: Gameboy Advance costs $69
Verteron @ 5/6/2003 10:31:22 AM #
That strikes me as very reasonable for a PalmOS5 device, and considering it has an MP3 player, Movie player, and the whole raft of PIM functions it seems good value compared to the GBA too.

I bet (hope?) the games will be cheaper than GBA games, since a lot of console buyers are waking up to the total cost of ownership these days.

RE: Gameboy Advance costs $69
mbergen @ 5/6/2003 11:11:34 AM #
This was actually one of the more interesting bits of discussion at the launch event last night: One of their primary audiences is people who've 'outgrown' their GBA. They might be embarassed to be seen with it in public, as it has the connotation of being a kid's toy, and it's somewhat limited.

Helix is more of a gaming console experience, with full Palm PDA capapbilities, an MP3 player, movie player (yes, with the ability to rip DivX) and graphing calculator.

Can anyone say College Student? A constantly renewable resource, with a new crop every September!

RE: Gameboy Advance costs $69
Fammy @ 5/6/2003 11:38:29 AM #
I don't know if I buy the "outgrown" argument. I should have outgrown the GBA, but I don't care if I am seen in public with it. It's fun. It's pocketable. The games are fun.

It's going to be tough to beat the GBA at $69/$99. I see this maybe getting 5% of the market. Best of luck to you Helix. If it's good, I may get it as my next PDA.


RE: Gameboy Advance costs $69
arielb @ 5/6/2003 12:55:58 PM #
and of course "PDA capability" these days doesn't just mean keeping contacts and a memo pad. You can do word processing, spreadsheet, powerpoint, email, database, web browsing etc

RE: Gameboy Advance costs $69
amflores @ 5/6/2003 2:38:14 PM #
Anyone remembers that Nintendo is able to sell the gameboy that cheap because they make their bucks by overcharging on games and platform licensess? Im not sure if Tapwave scheme will be successful -since they dont have the Nintendo main economic input and have to make all their money on the hardware-, but for sure games will be cheaper... they already are.

Then arises a question, does anybody knows if Tapwave plans on develop their own games? I can also imagine seeing games with the "helix only" or "helix enhanced" tag, which maybe will give Tapwave another source of revenue based on hardware -propietary?- specifics.

"May you have the Helix experience...."

Top View Full Comment Thread
Achtung! Only the first 50 comments are displayed within the article.
    Click here for the full story discussion page...


Register Register | Login Log in