Palm is struggling valiantly on - it will have a new OS next year, codenamed Nova, and the Folio is very much still breathing. That's according to Palm's CEO Ed Colligan who spoke to Australian Personal Computer Magazine at the local launch of the company's Centro handheld.
With typical Australian candour the magazine posed the question we all want to ask: Why does Palm bother any more? Ed's reply is, apparently, well rehearsed:
“Palm’s got maybe 15 million customers and 50 million devices around the world, it’s a brand that’s globally recognised. We sold a million Centros in the first five months of it going on sale with one carrier in the US, so to say were not an active player in the market is not really accurate.”
Having established that Palm is still a going concern the questions move to the as-yet-unnamed OS due to be launched next year. Ed explains that it will be internet-based, and fitting all the Web 2.0 paradigms - though as it won't be launched until 2009 it might yet miss that particular boat.
Whatever they decide to call it there will be a Linux base, and probably a compatibility layer to enable Palm applications to run, much like the Open Linux Platform from Access (who now own the Palm OS itself). Quite why Palm is so convinced it can do better isn't clear, but the company has revolutionised mobile computing before.
Not with the Folio though - the keyboard-and-screen that was supposed to be an adjunct to the mobile phone. That project got pulled, by Ed, just before launch, though he's not given up on the tiny laptop. "I still believe the idea will be vindicated some day... I really want there to be one Palm user experience, and so we’ll come back around to that idea when we’re done delivering that experience."
So no new Folio until the new OS is changing the world.
Palm does find solace in Apple's performance, despite the companies now being competitors. "If you look at Apple... at one point in time Apple was in a very difficult position... trying to figure out how they had the resources and the cash to see the next quarter through... now they’re one of the most successful brands in the world."
It's not the first time Palm has been compared to Apple - both companies have been based around an innovative OS used to sell branded hardware, and both are generally portrayed as the little guy challenging the oligopoly. Palm firmly believe they need to develop their own OS to create the ideal user experience, but it's going to have to be pretty spectacular to make any impression in an already-crowded marketplace. ®