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Entries in Palm (128)

Tuesday
Mar182003

Why PalmSource Should Remain Independent

Sony and PalmSourceI came across this interesting Q&A with PalmSource's David Nagel at InternetNews.com. Most interesting to me was how Nagel called Sony CEO Nobuyuki Idei's interest in buying PalmSource old news.

Regarding Sony or for that matter, any other licensee buying PalmSource -- I hope it never comes to pass.

Now, don't get me wrong -- I love my Sony Clie N610C and think Sony is doing a fabulous job building innovative Palm handhelds. In fact, I believe Sony saved the Palm economy at its lowest point. Just think back to those low-point days, when Palm dealt out their the dull-screened and pre-hyped m505 after many months of speculation (stranding thousands of Palm Vx devices in warehouses and on store shelves). Remember how scarce color Palm handhelds were while black and white Pocket PC devices were all but extinct?

Sony's entry into the Palm handheld market truly invigorated the Palm community and challenged other licensees (and even Pocket PC makers) to match their innovations. Sony has maintained their "new handheld every quarter" approach (thrilling some, driving others crazy), has established 320 x 320 hi-res and 320 x 480 hi-res+ screens and Sony was the first Palm OS licensee to introduce MP3 playback capabilities built into stock Palm handhelds.

So why would I not want Sony to own PalmSource if I think they've been such a saving grace to the Palm economy and Palm community?

First off, I believe the Palm OS would become much less attractive to licensees if Sony controlled PalmSource and the Palm OS. One of the biggest reasons PalmSource was legally separated from the hardware-oriented Palm SG (Solutions Group) was to reassure Palm OS licensees that PalmSource would be equally helpful toward all licensees, without any special favoritism toward Palm SG.

If Sony were to buy PalmSource, this would resurrect the very problem Palm SG and PalmSource have worked so hard to eliminate by splitting. Even if Sony could keep their fingers out of PalmSource after a purchase, the perception of favoritism would still exist. Licensees would likely see Sony gaining 'extra benefit' from being the owner of PalmSource. This could even cause a slow defection from the Palm OS, which would be a huge negative for the Palm economy and Palm community.

One of the unique features the Palm OS platform offers over the Pocket PC platform is a true diversity of products. While Pocket PCs are great devices for various purposes, manufacturers must closely follow Microsoft's strict specifications. This means differentiation between Pocket PC devices is limited to cosmetic appearance, processor speed, RAM size and how many removable media slots are offered. This makes comparison between devices much easier but it severely limits a licensee's freedom to innovate or to dream up wild new devices.

PalmSource has taken a completely different approach, by adopting an attitude of device diversity, which allows licensees get creative with hardware implementation. This is why the most diverse PDA devices, like the AlphaSmart Dana, Garmin iQue and the Fossil WristPDA Watch are all running Palm OS.

Now there are some drawbacks to this approach, mainly for developers who must deal with multiple versions of applications, each compiled for a different screen size, resolution or processor. To minimize this, PalmSource must remain an active caretaker of the OS. They must encourage development of innovative new features by licensees and then incorporate those new features into the OS as soon as reasonably possible. However, PalmSource must also maintain firm control over licensees who want to reinvent features similar to those already present in the OS.

I'm pleased that PalmSource is an independent company. Licensees should be given the freedom to explore diverse approaches to integrating the Palm OS into handhelds and other mobile devices without a highly constricting hardware spec sheet. I believe PalmSource's Unity through Diversity approach encourages Palm licensees develop many more cool, useful products, and that's a good thing! Long live PalmSource!

Tuesday
Mar112003

Sony Inspired by Handspring?

Clie TG50
I was surprised when I saw the new Clie TG50 had been released, not because it's Sony's 3rd OS 5 device, but rather, because it seemed oddly familiar. After contemplating my deja vu, it hit me -- the TG50 looks like Sony's version of the Handspring Treo!

If you don't believe me, check out the graphic I've pieced together to make my case, showing how the similarity between the Treo 270 and Clie TG50. For instance, compare the styling on the lid hinge: both the Treo and the Clie use a smooth cone-shaped hinge corner cover that's strikingly similar. The two devices also both feature a built-in thumboard and no Graffiti area whatesoever (though one could install NewPen on either device for on-screen Graffiti capaility).

Treo-Clie?Even InfoSync seems to see the resemblance, mentioned in its news blurb announcing the Clie TG50. However, there are many differences between these two devices: the Sony runs OS 5, has a hi-res screen, Bluetooth and its thumbboard looks harder to use than the Treo's. Meanwhile, the Treo 270 is a PDA and GSM phone 'communicator' and is much smaller than the TG50. Still I see an interesting resemblance... don't you?

The new Sony TG50 will retail for $400 and ought to arrive in the US soon. Check out reviews at Brighthand and Clie Club (Japan) for more details.

Thursday
Mar062003

Hard Times for Handspring

Palm Art Well, I'd have never guessed that Handspring would fall on hard times, but they are in some tough straights at the moment. To get some background on their situation, have a look at this excellent article Handspring holding on until Treo gets a grip by John Fortt.

I and my wife both owned and used Handspring Visor Deluxes for several years and really loved them. Family and friends still use Visors and love them too. Our Visors were nicely designed and tough and the Springboard Backup module was a real lifesaver at times. Handspring seems to really have a good feel for the consumer -- smart marketing, very nice packaging, clean website, solid products, the works.

But tough times have arrived for Handspring. They've had to buy out a multi-million dollar lease on a manufacturing building they've built but can't use and have put all their eggs into the PDA/Phone "communicator" basket with the Treo. The Treo is a great device with excellent software and hardware integration. I just fear the Treo was maybe a bit too far ahead of its time.

I do hope the market for communicators will catch up with Handspring before they run out of cash. It would be a pity if they had to close up shop with such great people and products. Hang in there Handspring!

Thursday
Mar062003

Palm Art Gallery

Palm ArtYesterday, I received a nice email from Karen Larson (a Tipsheet reader and fellow graphic designer) about PalmArt.us, her new gallery website of Palm-created artwork. I stopped by for a look and was impressed with the color and quality of the pieces on display, all of them created on Palm handhelds!

Now, I dunno why, but I've never spent much time using my handheld as an art tool. What's worse, as an artist, I have no good excuses! So, I've grabbed copies of a few different Palm-based drawing tools: TealPaint, Mobile Paint, DrawIt and Scrawl so that I can begin work on a portfolio of Palm artwork to submit to Karen's site.

If you're an artist (or you just play one on TV) the gallery accepts submissions and even has a tech info area to help you transfer your Palm art to a Mac or PC for submission. To submit, drop Karen an email with your art attached, your name, city, state, country, hardware and software used to create the art and artwork title and/or inspiration.

Even if you choose not to submit anything to the PalmArt gallery, why not grab a drawing tool for your Palm handheld and have a bit of fun making art? :-)

Tuesday
Mar042003

AvantBlog Arises!

AvantBlog Arises!
AvantBlogWell, much to my surprise it turns out an offline blogging tool that's compatible with Blogger.com actually does exist! It's called AvantBlog from DentedReality. Thanks to Vlad Campos (of PalmBR.com fame) and fellow PalmBloggers Yahoo Group member Sergio Lima for the tip!

Anyway, it's a simple concept: just add the AvantBlog page as a custom channel to your AvantGo account and HotSync. You must first log in once and then sync. Then, the Palm side is logged in when you next open AvantGo. Just start posting offline in AvantGo on the Palm side and the posts will appear after the next sync with the AvantGo servers.

I tried to get it working with iSilo, but had no luck as the two very necessary form fields on the AvantBlog page didn't render correctly. If you have any tips on this let me know.

So, it's back to my old PowerBook and Mac OS 9 to try with AvantGo...