Weird things seem to be happening in the Palm OS sector. PalmSource recently bought China MobileSoft which is a Chinese linux smartphone developer. This comes after spending about $11 million to buy BeOS from be back in 2001.
One obvious motivation in buying a Chinese company is to get access to the Chinese market (which is always going to be huge real soon now. IBM is thought to have similar motivations in selling it’s PC division to Lenovo. But PalmSource is now also talking about basing future Palm OS versions on Linux. So maybe they were after technology as well as market access.
The alternatives aren’t pretty. PalmSource hasn’t been making much progress since the incremental Palm OS 5. Licensees have yet to ship a PalmOS 6/Cobalt device. The software seems to be available to device developers but everyone is still on the PalmOS 5 platform. Not one Cobalt device has yet been released commercially by anyone. It almost makes one question what exactly is wrong with Palm OS 6. Performance? Memory footprint? Price? The about box?
In the operating system market it seems anyone writing operating systems and selling them (as opposed to open source things like Linux) always has a major failure when trying to develop the next big operating system. Apple had Copeland (which would have been Mac OS 8 if it had been released but was actually abandoned) before Mac OS X. Microsoft had OS2 (with IBM) before developing Windows NT/XP. Now perhaps Palm OS will fail on Palm OS 6 before releasing a new platform based on Linux?