Can Palm Reboot At CES 2009? - InformationWeek

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12/11/2008
02:13 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Can Palm Reboot At CES 2009?

Yesterday, I received an e-mailed invitation from Palm's media relations team to a press conference that Palm is holding at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month. The tag line reads: "Come to see all that Palm New-ness you've been waiting for." New what? New operating system? New hardware? New direction? Hopefully, all of the above.

Yesterday, I received an e-mailed invitation from Palm's media relations team to a press conference that Palm is holding at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month. The tag line reads: "Come to see all that Palm New-ness you've been waiting for." New what? New operating system? New hardware? New direction? Hopefully, all of the above.The e-mail gives me just the faintest glimmer of hope that Palm has a future in the smartphone landscape after all. These last few years have not been kind to the one-time innovator of the smartphone. As Palm coughs up rehash after rehash of its Treo lineup, competitors have turned the heat way up. The touch phenomenon has caught up with nearly every manufacturer rushing to compete against the Apple iPhone and other devices. The Android OS and even an Android device have launched. New and exciting handsets have come from just about every OEM, with the exception of Palm.

Palm has been using the same base operating system on its Palm OS devices for nearly 4 years. That's the Jurassic period in the mobile landscape. Palm has been struggling to bring its next-generation operating system, based on Linux, to market. The OS was first expected to be available by the end of 2007. It has been pushed back again and again, with Palm CEO Ed Colligan suggesting not more than a few months ago that it will be well into 2009 before we see the new OS.

Hopefully the news of this press conference means things are moving along at a faster pace than perhaps Colligan had estimated.

Here's what I hope to see:

1. All-new hardware. No more evolutionary changes. Palm needs to flex some serious design chops and craft a new line of devices that look nothing like the aging line of Treos.

2. All-new software. This should be a given, since Palm is crafting an all-new operating system. Palm will have to tread carefully here to preserve the ease-of-use that its current OS enjoys, while still bringing heaps of new features to the table.

3. A clear path for growth. Palm has too long been treading water. It has been undergoing a large number of changes internally the past few months. I hope part of Palm's internal reorganization includes a public product map and strategy for rejoining the smartphone competition in a way that puts it back on par with today's best devices.

Is this what Palm is going to discuss at its press conference next month? Let's hope so. If it doesn't, Palm's downward slide will only accelerate.

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