Beleaguered Palm’s last gasp: way late Nova OS not due until mid-2009

“Palm is poised to make what some analysts are calling its last stand at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, where it is expected to introduce its long-awaited Linux-based operating system,” Ryan Kim reports for The San Francisco Chronicle. “Code-named Nova, it will power a new generation of smart phones and potentially other devices.”

“The stakes are high for Palm, which risks permanent irrelevancy or worse if it can’t generate some buzz and momentum around its combination of hardware and software,” Kim reports.

“The new system will replace the aging Palm OS platform, which continues to run on smart phones like the Palm Centro, a brisk-selling but low-margin device. Palm also will continue to sell hardware running Windows Mobile software,” Kim reports.

“Palm has its work cut out for it. In its most recent quarter, Palm sold 599,000 smart phones, down 13 percent from the previous year. Apple, meanwhile, sold 6.9 million iPhones in its most recent quarter,” Kim reports.

“‘There’s no momentum behind Palm,’ said analyst Pablo Perez-Fernandez of Global Crown Capital. ‘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 reports. Plus, the “new Nova products aren’t expected to premiere until mid-2009, which means more pressure for Palm in the short term.”

Full article here.

Cue the fat lady.

We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.Ed Colligan, Palm CEO, November 16, 2006, laughing off the idea of Apple entering the smartphone market.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “James W.” for the heads up.]


  1. Hey!
    Where’s the ‘competition is good” clown squad?
    This is what happens to ‘competition’ that charade as tough guys –
    they get beat to a pulp. When you invest real money into companies like this, you’ll find out the hard way. This article
    speaks on the real problem facing us – laziness.
    I bailed out from Palm 6 years ago when I had a Sony Clie which was better than Palm’s own brand – and waited forever for their ‘new OS’. Palm simply hasn’t been trying – it’s time to pay the piper. Unfortunately, a lot of employees will lose – as management usually ties up their own finances in neat bundles – then bail – while the rest split nothing. It happens too often.

  2. Wandering Joe:

    Cooligan was trying to be sarcastic; the way he said it was supposed to be insulting to Apple (they AREN’T PC, after all; they’re Mac…).

    I used to be an enthusiastic Palm user. I went through about four different Palm devices. What Newton promised when the world wasn’t ready for it, Palm delivered at the right moment. Grafitti was intuitive and simple. Devices were the right size and there was a good reason why they sold well and attracted high numbers of developers. There were tons of very useful software for the Palm platform.

    There is only one reason why Palm failed after such early success. They didn’t continue to innovate. Having a couple of Apple guys come up with initial design obviously launched them straight into the orbit, way past Windows CE. Since Palm isn’t (nor it ever was) Apple, they just sat there, adding minor, insignificant tweaks to the Palm OS. In 2002, they were probably the most popular Christmas gift gadget. And look at them today… Just sad.

  3. Palm is truly caught in a squeeze and I feel sorry for their technology gurus. When Apple’s iPhone came out, many felt that would kill the Palm devices but I think it was more undercapitalization. The current Palm OS is, in many ways, superior to the Apple iPhone system. For one thing, you can cut, copy and paste. Data may be shared by multiple applications. A search of the device will bring up everything from calendar events to notes to contact records.

    When Apple started releasing software through their App Store, that was the end of Palm’s hopes for viability going forward. Palm devices don’t have the mind share of the Blackberry. And they don’t have the coolness factor or the application store of the iPhone. I do hope their technology geniuses find a way to express their considerable talents elsewhere.

  4. As mhollis stated above, the Palm OS is still — to this day — a superior OS to the iPhone in MANY ways:

    — Cut, copy, paste.
    — Global search of the entire phone (notes, emails, contacts, calendar, 3rd-party apps, etc.).
    — Bidirectional synchronization of notes to the Mac and back.
    — Ability to directly sync to 3rd party applications, such as FileMaker Pro and Pocket Quicken.
    — Ability to view and EDIT Microsoft Office documents.
    — Ability to email more than one photo at a time from the photos application, and without it hanging the entire phone while trying to send one photo.
    — Ability to install 3rd party email applications and calendar applications that don’t have the limitations of Apple’s calendar & email applications on the iPhone (such as Apple’s multiple inboxes and Apple’s “one signature for all email accounts” limitation). And without the bugs of Apple’s calendar & email apps (one quick example off the top of my head: calendar colors on the iPhone do not stay the same when syncing via USB.)
    — Ability to select contacts to dial by typing the initials of the contact on the keyboard.
    — Much more, too.

  5. Mac
    MacDailyNews Take:
    MacDailyNews Take: Cue
    MacDailyNews Take: Cue the
    MacDailyNews Take: Cue the fat
    MacDailyNews Take: Cue the fat lady.

  6. Now that Palm has let the cat out of the bag I can relate what my sources inside Palm have told me.

    All Palm softwares are being ported to Linux, a UNIX Operating System. Palm’s new OS will be on par with Apple’s iPhone OS.

    For developers it will not be difficult to port iPhone Apps to Palm OS. Now think of what 5,000 Apps available at the Palm App Store will mean to Palm smart phones.

    Mid 2009? It’s only 6 months away.

  7. If the new Palm devices with Nova are not available until mid-year, you can kiss Palm goodbye.

    Another reason why having your product release schedule held hostage to someone else’s convention is bad. Look at Palm, their Hail Mary pass is intercepted by CES. They have to announce something that is not ready, not shipping and not in people’s hands. It’ll be a bloodbath until the new products ship. Who would buy any of the old stuff, unless they could be upgraded to the new OS, and if the old devices weren’t made with the new OS in mind, how well will they even work?

    No matter how good Nova is, it’s too little too late. The major loss of mindshare happened when the Foleo was stillborn. The start of the fall happened when Palm put Windows on some of their devices. Talk about confusing your customers. Their only hope now is to be bought by MS, and get rebranded as Zunernova.

  8. Gregg Thurman “For developers it will not be difficult to port iPhone Apps to Palm OS.”


    No one who even understands even vaguely what programming is, would believe a word of that statement.

    You can’t seriously have posted that with a straight face?

  9. I used Palm Pilots for years, and I loved them. My iPhone is just so much cooler and easier to use. Finger beats stylus any day.

    Yes, my old Palm can still do some things my iPhone can’t …. yet. The iPhone is the future; the Palm is the past.

  10. Yes, we’ve all heard Palm is going Linux. Isn’t that what Jon Rubinstein argued with Scott Forstall and Bertrand Serlet at Apple about for the iPhone? Linux vs Mac OS?

    The question is, will it be “on par” with the iPhone OS X? Hard to believe.

    Porting may be relatively easy, but you still have to execute on the ecosystem. How easy will it be for customers to buy apps? Will the pricing even be the same? I mean, developers are willing to keep prices low at the iPhone App Store because they have lots of potential volume, but what will Palm have? They sold less than 1/10th of what Apple sold last quarter.

    Look at the Android phone, apps are not increasing at the same rate as the iPhone AppStore did. (Now there’s an interesting comparison. I wonder why noone has done an analysis of the rate of growth of both AppStores?) Why? Perhaps, the installed base of Android phones was nil, when their AppStore launched, while the installed base for iPhones was close to 10M, when Apple’s AppStore launched. What will Palm’s Nova installed base be? Zero.

    Amazingly, I still own some Palm shares!

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