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Handhelds Operating Systems Software Hardware

Palm Pulls the Plug On Palm OS 300

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the now-my-palms-wont-operate dept.
BobB-nw writes to tell us that Palm has decided to kill their PalmOS operating system and is instead betting their future on a still mostly unknown Palm webOS. Very little is known about the new Palm webOS, but it will supposedly support HTML5 and enable a local data store so that applications can be used both online and off. All of this is rolled into a Linux framework with a message bus based on JSON. Will be interesting to see where they take it.
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Palm Pulls the Plug On Palm OS

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  • RIP My Friend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clonan (64380) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @12:49PM (#26829309)

    I have used palm OS for almost ten years.

    Rest in Peace my friend, you will be missed.

  • Re:About damn time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Abreu (173023) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:02PM (#26829537)

    I used two Palm Zires (first a 21, then a 72) as ebook readers for the last 8 years.

    When my latest one died two weeks ago, I started looking for a replacement, only to find out that PDAs have been dead for years...

    Dammit Palm, you had a complete market cornered, why did you have to drop the ball so stupidly?
    If you had developed a decent OS (with a f**kin filesystem!) for your devices 5 years ago, you would still be relevant today...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:05PM (#26829579)

    So every app on a phone should be trusted by the phone's OS and by every other app on the phone?

    That works poorly for computers, and worse for phones. If you're doing a new OS from scratch, why repeat that old mistake? It's not like there aren't a million examples of why it's a dumb idea not to have any confinement.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:07PM (#26829611) Journal

    They had a virtual monopoly on portable devices.
    Not they're barely known.
    How the mighty have fallen.

    Note that the monopoly was killed by the free market, and not be government interference. The market may be slower, but it eventually breaks-up monopolies through natural forces.

  • Re:RIP My Friend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:10PM (#26829659) Homepage

    I have used palm OS for almost ten years.

    Rest in Peace my friend, you will be missed.

    I don't know about missed. I think more like "fondly remembered", in that special kind of nostalgic way where you're simultaneously glad it is in fact a memory.

    I've been using PalmOS devices since 97, and let me tell you, it wasn't long after the calendar hit 2000 that I stopped having a lot of patience for a non-multitasking OS. If this de-feature had made it stable that'd be one thing, but that's one thing PalmOS never was.

  • by LDoggg_ (659725) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:13PM (#26829689) Homepage
    "Why would you comment when you obviously have no understanding of what the company in the story produces?"

    I guess you didn't noticed that is more of a question than a comment.

    "It doesn't make sense to use Android, and have to pay licensing on a product that they don't own when they have been around long enough to know what works and what their customers want."

    Huh? Pay licensing for what? The platform Android is open source.
  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:16PM (#26829719)

    Yeah. I've done a few of the Palm PDAs over the years, starting with the Palm Pilot Pro. Back then, those things were cutting edge, lots of software, lots of support. You looked at the device and you knew it had a future.

    It just seems like, since then, the company has had high goals, but has been on a behind-the-curve downhill slide ever since.

    I now look back with regret on my decision a little over a year ago to buy a Palm T|X. Little third party development these days. Almost no vendor support on the built-in software. And yet, somehow, these are still selling today for $250-$300?

    Sadly, it only performs the following functions for me to today:

    1. MP3 player
    2. Notepad
    3. Emergency wifi web browser

    Palm only has one shot left, IMHO. They need to put something out there, and it needs to be WOW.

    If this isn't a Killer OS, then it'll be the OS that killed the company.

  • by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:23PM (#26829805) Homepage Journal

    Errors should hurt, or you'll keep making them.

  • by LDoggg_ (659725) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:40PM (#26830087) Homepage
    "While I don't see any appeal to JSON"...

    I've been writing XML based ajax apps for some time now, but I understand the appeal of JSON.

    It's not the smaller document size. The standard XML header is only about 35 bytes and you can make your tags as small as you like.

    It's not the speed of parsing. The XML DOM parsing is done natively and quickly using xmlHttpRequest.responseXML.documentElement.

    I think the appeal is the easy of getting started with development.
    With an XML DOM you can use or build an API to handle the client side traversal of the DOM to get at the elements your page is interested in. Or you can manually iterate through the DOM elements in javascript looking for what you want.
    With json, your objects are there ready to use in javascript in the structure that you built on the server.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:41PM (#26830113)

    My company sells Palms to use as Point of Sale Devices for delivery drivers. We have software tailored to the Palm and receipt printers as well.

    Now that Palm is going to end, we will need to find another platform to run our software on. I don't see are customers using a smartphone.

    It is interesting how Apple store employees use Symbol handhelds, which run Palm OS, instead of the iPhone. Even for Apple, the iPhone is not a replacement for Palm.

  • by argent (18001) <peter@slashdot.2 ... m ['nga' in gap]> on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:49PM (#26830245) Homepage Journal

    IF they'd kept the original PalmOS model and followed it to cheaper devices you'd be seeing Palms instead of Ti graphing calculators as the standard handheld for schoolkids by now... which would have translated into massive sales as the kids grew up. But Palm decided they HAD to go head to head against the Pocket PC, and threw away most of the advantages of the small, tight, lightweight Palm OS while keeping most of its disadvantages with PalmOS 5.

  • Re:About damn time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rbanffy (584143) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:55PM (#26830321) Homepage Journal

    Just remember that API was designed to run on very simple devices built in 1998.

  • by KlaymenDK (713149) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:56PM (#26830341) Journal

    As a couple of others at this thread level, I'm a devout Palm user. Actually, I've just bought a Treo 680 (competently refurbished of course) -- "just" as in "it it's still in the mail".

    I've been using Palm PDAs for most of a decade, starting with a Palm III. My two beloved T3's are currently on their last legs; these things are nothing short of fantastic, keeping my mind and life functioning, but no matter how one cares for them they can only be expected to last for so long (which is why I'm upgrading to a Treo).

    On a related note, my brother has been using Psion Series5's for 13 years -- and he still thinks they're the best things out there, although he recently threw in the towel and bought an iPhone.

    It's such a shame that consumer electronics seems to be so ephemeral, it always has been. It means that the junk piles up on the landfill quickly, and it also means that the quality stuff is simply out of support long before the hardware is worn out.

    I say "seems to be", because few people realise --truly, consciously-- that one's gear does not need to change if one's needs don't. Granted, for most (young) people it's at least as much about the fashion statement as the functionality, and so they buy into the ephemerality. Meanwhile, the stalwarts who cherish their devices for their usefulness quickly appear to be dinosaurs, as not keeping with the times.

    I know that this Mac-like OS transition was necessary for Palm in order to be truly free to innovate, and I wish them luck, if for nothing else the market players need diversity to keep each other on their toes. I'm sure they're nervous about this gamble of leaving behind literally tens of thousands of 3rd-party applications; I know we are still many, many users out there who are -- even if we're being drowned out by others who don't feel the same.

    What am I trying to say? I wish Palm luck with their new OS and device, and I hope they get to survive on that account. But I also hope that the PalmOS community survives, for one does not rule out the other, and the old tools will not suddenly, lose their usefulness.

  • Re:About damn time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KlaymenDK (713149) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @01:58PM (#26830355) Journal

    I've done a fair bit of Palm programming, too. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I will say that an API will always be something you have to take as it is and work with (or around) as best you can.

    We'll see how the new Web OS API fares in comparison -- I'd hesitate to bash the old one until I've compared it to its successor.

  • by rbanffy (584143) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:01PM (#26830393) Homepage Journal

    Actually, the monopoly was killed, from one end, by a company leveraging another monopoly to extend into the PDA segment.

    From the other direction came Symbian with Nokia and Sony Ericsson and pretty much every telco on the planet.

    Really, they had little chance.

  • Re:About damn time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by couchslug (175151) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:07PM (#26830489)

    They should have kept to standard designs, dropped the price, and made Palms as common and cheap as pocket calculators.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) * <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:09PM (#26830515) Homepage Journal
    Is that it took them this long to do it. Palm has been selling devices running windows for how many years now? I was surprised when I recently saw a (new) Palm device for sale that was actually running Palm OS.
  • by Richy_T (111409) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:10PM (#26830529) Homepage

    Yet it sounds remarkably like the buzz that those flies lying upside down on my windowsill make.

    I agree with the previous poster. Palm threw it all away. The TX was a great device and the next logical step could have been revolutionary. Instead, Palm fell asleep at the wheel and concentrate on buggy smartphones instead. I loved the product but I can't say they don't deserve to die.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2009 @02:39PM (#26830989)

    Bull.
    I don't care how many 'smartphones' Palm tries to sell, they still abandoned those of us who prefer standalone PDAs. Webcrap still can't replace a simple local copy.

  • Re:RIP My Friend (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tkinnun0 (756022) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @03:07PM (#26831383)
    Not status, but join date. He joined slashdot when it was new. Curious how the early adopters of yesterday seems to be the biggest conservatives of today.
  • Re:About damn time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @03:09PM (#26831447) Homepage Journal

    You try shoehorning qt or gtk onto a 68000 running at 16MHz with 128K of memory.

    If I recall, it wasn't any worse than any other API of comparable ability capable of running on similar hardware. It was idisyncratic of course because it wasn't Win32 which only seemed normal because so many people had to deal with it, and it didn't have the luxury modern frameworks do of burning processor time and call stack in order to provide an orthogonal model with close one to to one correspondence between what you saw on the screen and the objects you manipulate to make it happen.

    Anything new you have to learn is a pain in the ass.

    I think we have to judge an API like this by its results. A lot of people managed to develop a lot of applications for a lot of users, and by in large those applications were useful, functional and stable.

    Still, I think that the direction palm is going from an API standpiont is good. They've lost the developer mindshare war, so having a totally foreign API and application model is a luxury they can't afford. It sounds like they're doing the right thing on PIM data synchronization too. It's a scandal how you can't get a decent shared calendar on a mobile device without buying Exchange.

    On the other hand, I wish they would still offer non-converged devices. I realize it doesn't signify anything from a marketing standpoint, but I'd run out and buy a Pre right now if I could get it without the phone. I already have a phone, and I really hate having my PIM tied to my cell provider.

  • by hey! (33014) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @03:24PM (#26831693) Homepage Journal

    Well, not to meta-nitpick or anything, but I'm sure Access would have sold Palm a new license if Palm had been willing to pay anything like it must be paying to get a whole new OS.

    Still, in the era of $300 laptops, I wonder how cheaply some Chinese company could sell a knock off of the old Palm m505. For a lot of people, that pretty much was all the PDA they really needed. PDAs got powerful and converged partly because the companies built around selling PDAs were built around selling expensive, high margin items. If you could buy such a device for, say $29.99, it would sell. Add bluetooth and the ability to dial a number of common phones out of the addressbook, and you'd have something.

  • Re:About damn time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vortran (253538) <aol_is_satan@hotmail.com> on Thursday February 12, 2009 @03:37PM (#26831919) Homepage

    Sounds to me like Palm is way out of touch with their market. How do you get a company like this to pay more attention to their users?

    I have 3 Palm Tungsten|C devices (2 in storage for when this one breaks). I had always hoped that Palm would come out with a device that included:

    Graffiti (able to use Graffiti I)
    Wifi with ability to change software/drivers
    Cellular voice/data with SIM card
    GPS receiver that can be readily used by any app
    Bluetooth
    IR I/O with stronger output and no cpu-specific hooks
    Stereo sound
    Built-in mic

    Here's to wishful thinking. Cheers. If anyone knows of such a device that would run my (about 160) Palm OS 5x programs, please let me know.

  • by Tetsujin (103070) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @04:56PM (#26833395) Homepage Journal

    I was one of those people saying it wouldn't be enough. And I still do think it's not enough for some things.

    Making a 3D game and using hardware openGL acceleration is tough to do in with HTML5 :)

    Don't be ridiculous! You don't use HTML for that... That's what Javascript is there for!

  • Mac-like API (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bar-agent (698856) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @05:45PM (#26834255)

    The API reminded me of the early Mac OS API. Everything was a handle, the screen-manipulation and string functions were similar, and the case convention was the same.

  • by PsychoSlashDot (207849) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @07:43PM (#26836337)

    The devil's in the details. I've got ten years of Palm OS use under my belt. I've had a Palm III, a Palm IIIc, a Palm V, a couple different Sony Clie devices, and my wife and I both run Palm Treo 650s. Why? Because I've got dozens of apps, and more than a little investment in them.

    From mileage trackers to payroll sheets to games to little utils that adjust the UI to make it work the way I want it to work, I've got a device that works the way I want to work.

    Problem is... WebOS isn't backwards compatible. Not even an emulator. So now what for my wife and I? We're starting at 0 no matter what platform our next PDA/phone purchase is. So I'll have 0 investment or loyalty to the Palm platform. Advancement is good, but this effectively says "our existing customer base isn't worth anything to us".

    I smell a Blackberry coming my way in a couple years.

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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