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What Happened To Palm? 305

Posted by timothy
from the tides-of-fortune dept.
Ian Lamont writes "Palm's fourth quarter results came out a few days ago, and they were not pretty: Palm reported losses of 40 cents per share, for a quarterly loss of $43.4 million. It's the fourth straight quarter of losses, and it's clear that the company is not faring well in the rapidly evolving smartphone market. The Treo line is lagging after seven years, and while the Centro has done well, it's not well enough to compete with the likes of the iPhone 3G and RIM's surging BlackBerry line. New competition is on the horizon, with developers and manufacturers working on the Google Android platform and the recent news that Symbian is being open-sourced. What happened to Palm? What can the company do to effectively compete in the mobile market, and turn its fortunes around?"
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What Happened To Palm?

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  • My story... (Score:5, Informative)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Saturday June 28, 2008 @03:43PM (#23984115) Homepage Journal

    I bought my Palm T|X, direct from Palm, within 24 hours of when they first became available. I ordered it direct so that Palm would get all the margin (profit) from the order. I do this when I am trying to support a company. Keep that in mind as you read the rest of this. They got more money from my orders than they would have if I had bought from, say, buy.com.

    I ordered it overnight on Wednesday afternoon; they sat on the order until Friday, and so I received it Monday, basically five days after I had ordered it instead of one. Annoying, but it was new, they were probably overwhelmed with orders, etc., so I just grumbled a bit. The TX itself, well, it was fantastic. A little thing here or there wasn't perfect, but overall, this was the PDA I'd been waiting for. WiFi, Bluetooth, beautiful display, music and video playback, used almost all my software from my long in the tooth M505 Palm... the TX is fantastic. Really.

    Considering that I was so happy with the T|X, I decided to get one for my sweetheart as well (she's also a long-time Palm/PDA user.) So, I ordered it on October 18th. We received it on October 19th. Much better. Unfortunately, this is where the happy tone of the story fades out.

    Her TX would refuse to connect to any WiFi node without taking about ten tries. Then it would connect. Once connected, it was fine. But connecting could literally take five minutes of poking and prodding it. This was clearly no good (heck, PDAs are supposed to be convenient, aren't they?) So I called Palm. They kept me on the phone for about 40 minutes (I timed it. Total cost to me, $46.60 via AT&T) I spoke to Cody in support. In 40 minutes, he verified, apparently by following a support script, what I had clearly described to him in the first 30 seconds: This T|X was not connecting properly. Yes, I kept my temper and stayed polite. I know this game.

    So he tells me, now I have to call the Palm store. So I do - toll free. I tell them what Cody told me, and I give them the service request number he supplied for my issue. They take it, tell me it will be 24-48 hours and then they will issue (by email) an RMA. This new fellow also explains that the procedure continues such that if they accept the RMA (verify the problem on receipt of the unit) then Palm will refund to my card.

    I object: I ask, "Why refund? I want it replaced -- this is a gift!" They say there is no other option, and this is to "protect them from fraud." I ask them how, exactly, giving me my $300 back protects them more than giving me a working T|X... but this only angers the person on the phone, who tells me he isn't going to explain company policy to me. Imagine that. So I thank him for his time (no, really, I did, and I remain polite as well) and I hang up.

    So, 48 hours pass, no RMA email. (Definitely -- I kept every email while waiting for the RMA, so no spam filtering, nothing. Man, was that annoying!) So I call them again. This guy tells me that it takes 2-5 days to issue an RMA and the previous person "didn't know what they were talking about." Uh-huh.

    So I wait. Five days pass. No RMA. So I call them again. It's October 24th now. They say they'll send it out after 5 pm, specifically telling me these emails are batched all at once. 5pm rolls around... no RMA. 9pm... midnight...

    So the next morning, I call them again, only this time I call technical support back at the toll number. (Total time, 20 minutes, Total cost to me, $23.30 via AT&T -- we're now at $69.00 expended on toll calls to Palm support.) We're still sitting on this busted T|X, and no RMA. I'm not happy at all. My sweetheart is dissapointed, to say the least. But I remained polite. The fellow on the phone (Chris, employee number 72485) allowed as to how he could escalate the issue, and fax me the RMA. He did, and we got it, wonder of wonders, and so now we have this RMA. It's a UPS ground return to Palm. Gritting my teeth, I hand it off to UPS and wait.

    On November 3rd, I receive an email(!) from Palm saying that they

    • by Zeinfeld (263942)
      I hate my Treo. It is the fourth one I have had, they keep on breaking. It is company issued or I would not use it at all.

      The browser is terrible and the O/S so unstable that Opera won't supply an alternative. The managers who accepted that code must have an IQ less than my shoe size.

      I hate my Treo, sooner Palm goes out of business the better.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by zullnero (833754)
        That's odd. I've had the same treo 700p since it was released. I haven't had any problems with it, even when everyone in the world complained about "how slow it was". I've dropped it 6 feet onto cement about 5 times, and the only damage I've done to it was that I rubbed off some of the shiny silvery paint on the front (I just had to have a leather flip case). Then again, I've used iPhones and WinMob devices. Now THOSE are freaking slow.

        I sometimes question the veracity of all the Treo haters out the
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Zeinfeld (263942)
          I sometimes question the veracity of all the Treo haters out there. I've never met a single one, in person, that ever had a problem with theirs. And I've met a heck of a lot. I've been writing code for mobile devices since the late 90's, for every mobile OS that's come along, and the device I use for my day to day work is always a PalmOS device.

          Hmm that's odd because when I read your post I thought 'shill for Palm'. Seems rather odd that you would accuse others in this way. Looks like projection to me.

    • Re:My story... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by signingis (158683) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (signingis)> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @03:53PM (#23984187) Journal

      Why on earth are you paying $1/min for your cell phone coverage?

    • by Bandman (86149) <bandman@gm a i l . com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @03:54PM (#23984199) Homepage

      I can tell you've been thinking a lot about this. How do you really feel? ;-)

    • Re:My story... (Score:4, Informative)

      by ricegf (1059658) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:11PM (#23984359) Journal

      You might try a Nokia N8x0. It has a genuine Garnet (e.g, Palm 5) emulator, and runs all of the software I've tried on it quite well. However, you can't set your user ID (I know, what a stupid restriction), and you can only sync the PIM via wifi.

      But it's a sweet tablet in its own right. Oh, and yes - it runs Linux. :-)

    • I have a T|X and it's the last Palm product I will ever buy. Totally buggy "browser". Their desktop application hasn't been updated since 1994 and basically doesn't work under OS X (fortunately there is Missing Sync). My T|X has had a non functioning power button (won't turn off) since day 1. I've tried twice to get an RMA and just gave up both times. Since the thing actually works, all I'm doing is missing some battery life.

      The only reason I keep it is because of a few medical databases that are crit

      • Re:My story... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by karnal (22275) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:37PM (#23984589)

        I've owned Palm gear since .. oh around the time the original palm3x came out. Bought it from CompUSA - loved that device for about a year.

        Got a good lead on a VX - and scored one. Very awesome; although the lack of being able to use aaa batteries was somewhat dissapointing, it seemed to hold a good charge. Even up until a year ago when I got rid of the unit.

        Did everything with this machine. GPS, kept my contacts, even had about 15 minutes every morning where I would manually sync my business calendar with the one in the Palm to stay on top of things. Truly this machine was the best PDA I've ever had.

        Fast forward to .. oh 3 years ago? When the T|X came out, told my wife that I wanted one for Christmas. And I got it! Played with that thing for about a month, using it to watch videos at the gym and playing music at work. For data entry and screen visibility, this device was awesome.

        My gripes?
        1. The audio out on the device is noisy with low impedance headphones. This drives my tinnitus up the wall. Constant "hisssssssssss" regardless of the volume level. This is either a product of cramming an audio amp next to the screen or just a crappy amp.
        2. Screen squeal. No lie, this thing emits a vile, harsh sound from the screen anytime that it is on. It's not that noticable, but again - I have slight tinnitus in my left ear, and it makes my left ear go absolutely nuts. I believe it is in the same sound spectrum as a TV flyback - because they both do this to me. Anyways, 2 RMAs later, and they state that this problem is expected with this kind of display technology and they're not going to fix it. This seems to affect every one of their devices - go into your local staples/office max/whatever and find their Palm section (if they still have one.) If you turn them on, you're guaranteed to hear the squeal - my wife was giving me shit for not using my gift she got me, and I then walked her by the Palm section. She didn't berate me any more after that.
        3. Had to RMA for failing power button. This happened about 2 months into the device, and really drove me nuts. This exact same issue happened with my Palm Vx late in life. They did fix this properly, and to this day the power button works.

        I no longer use the device and it sits on my shelf due to the screen squeal. I also bought an MP3 player that plays videos (granted, on a much smaller screen) so I no longer need this one at the gym. It also doesn't accept SDHC cards (DOH!!!)

        Now, my thoughts as to why they're doing bad in the market:

        1. They don't fix clearly obvious issues with the device (#1 and #2 above)
        2. My work laptop now has wireless access every place that I go in my company. This gives my laptop the ability to be my "pda" even though it isn't as convenient.
        3. With #2 being true for a lot of people, there's just no market for a small portable repository of address books and calendars for the masses. Note - there are probably some niche areas where a PDA comes in handy, but in my line of work (Network/Voice Design) I just don't have a need.
        4. Same as above, I still see a PDA and a phone combo as a niche device. Blackberry and Apple are getting this area right - by integrating with popular mail types (Exchange, Lotus Notes) that companies use to keep their employees abreast of things. I'm not sure how Palm still does this, but back in the day it was some convoluted connector that runs on your local PC. Not too handy if the laptop is sitting in the off position in your laptop bag.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kesuki (321456)

          the problem with palm, is simple, they're using the same model as microsoft. microsofts business model can't possibly survive in a free market. it require vendor lock in and illegal manipulation of the market.

          all they need to do is kill any suggestion the marketing department makes, give senior software and hardware engineers absolute vetoes on feature support, and make sure that management has as little control over features, and as much over marketing as possible.

          If they'd do that, get a few senior engin

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by monopole (44023)

        Had Palms since the original Visor.

        Same here, the power button on my T|X failed after a few months, sync failed later, and other bits afterwards. No amount of hard resets will fix it.

        My friend had the touchscreen fail twice.

        Neither of will ever buy Palm again.

        Went over to the Nokia n800, not as clean a solution, bulkier, but it works and has a true Debian distro.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sconeu (64226)

          The Visor was Handspring. The original Palm was the US Robotics Palm Pilot.

    • Re:My story... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by omeomi (675045) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:29PM (#23984511) Homepage
      They kept me on the phone for about 40 minutes (I timed it. Total cost to me, $46.60 via AT&T)

      Wow, you have a _horrible_ long distance plan. Who pays $1.17/minute for long distance?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rob Kaper (5960)

        It's a Palm user. Had he bought a Nokia with built-in SIP/VOIP client he would be able to call any US number for 1 pence a minute (that's 2 dollar cents). That's what it costs me with my VOIP provider - and there's a bloody ocean in between.

    • Re:My story... (Score:4, Informative)

      by klossner (733867) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:32PM (#23984535)

      You don't buy phones from Palm, you buy them from the cell phone provider, who provides the service. I'm very happy with my Treo 755p. It needed service -- dust somehow get between the glass and the LCD. The Sprint store five miles from my house swapped in a new screen while I waited.

      500 voice minutes, unlimited text and internet data, $30/month with the SERO plan [slickdeals.net].

    • After my T|X died... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rob Simpson (533360)
      ...I tried to find a Palm that didn't suck, since I needed one for certain medical software. (Emulators for Nokia or other devices are just far too slow, and can't turn on and off instantly.) I used my old Sony SJ33 until I finally came to the conclusion that all of the new Palm devices are garbage. Anything built since they moved to NVFS [wikipedia.org] is a buggy unstable timebomb. My solution was to buy a refurbished Tungsten C from these guys [cheappalm.com], which was much faster than my T|X and perfectly stable. It's worthless for t
    • by v1 (525388)

      Looks like you've discovered (painfully) the truth about Palm.

      Products are usually good, customer service is NONEXISTENT. Buy one, and then pray it never breaks.

    • Your mistake (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ghjm (8918) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:59PM (#23984803) Homepage

      was in assuming that ordering direct from Palm was better from their point of view. It isn't. Manufacturers don't specialize in logistics, distribution or warehousing, all of which are complex problem spaces that require significant skill to execute correctly. In fact, many manufacturers are so inefficient in these areas that it actually costs them more to sell you a unit than for you to buy it through distribution, margins and all. It also costs them far more to attempt to diagnose and support a problem than to accept a large batch of returns from a major distributor.

      Just buy the thing locally from a retailer with a no-questions-asked return policy, and if there's anything wrong with it that you think might be a hardware defect, return it and try another one. This would have saved you $100 in phone calls (though why the hell are you paying over a dollar a minute for long distance?) and would have saved Palm several hundred dollars in support costs.

      -Graham

  • They lost focus (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Espectr0 (577637) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @03:52PM (#23984185) Journal

    Between all the division splitting , they lost their focus. The sole idea of scrapping the palm os development and start to focus on windows mobile must tell you something.

    Their current devices were fine for five years ago, but not now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What happened is that they brought in the guy from Pepsi as their CEO. You know, a product that is basically a commodity, and only differentiates itself from its competitors through advertising and marketing.

      He stopped R&D and tanked the product. Palm stagnated for five years, stopped innovating, and fell behind (in expectations and competition).

      By the time they axed him, they lost their lead in the market, and the hearts and minds of their customers, and all of their engineering spirit and talent.

      Tha

    • Not only did they lose focus, but their founder and insiders have no hope.

      I used to be a sizable shareholder in PALM, dating back to the old US Robotics days. I made a small bit of money overall, but got out when it was clear also to me that they were doing *nothing* as far as I could tell. I think the final straw for me was when they had a big press release for the release of their new and COMPLETELY UGLY orange logo. Weren't they supposed to be a technology company?

      The death of palm is really a shame.

    • Re:They lost focus (Score:5, Insightful)

      by yog (19073) * on Saturday June 28, 2008 @05:32PM (#23985103) Homepage Journal

      Palm management has not been innovative since Jeff Hawkins and Donna Dubinsky left to form Handspring. The bean counters they left behind just milked the cash cow until they figured out that Handspring was about to eclipse them. So they bought Handspring from the obliging Jeff and Donna and brought them back on board (hundreds of millions of dollars richer).

      Jeff, apparently having exhausted his innovative ideas after perfecting the Treo, went and wasted millions of dollars developing a questionable gadget that no one asked for--the Foleo, a laptop-like appendage that helps augment the abilities of a smartphone.

      That brings us up to the present. We have a company with one product. It's pretty much milked that product dry. They have failed to update the operating system in any significant way, and the battery life of their handhelds has shrunk from the legendary Palm III era when disposables kept it running for 6-8 weeks. Now you're lucky to get through an 8 hour day without needing to recharge.

      I still use my Tungsten T3. I have many useful apps on it--Oxford English dictionary, medical dictionaries, medical atlas, guitar tuner, image display, voice memo recorder, large LCD. Nothing else on the market provides the same functionality except maybe an iPaq or its ilk, which involves repurchasing all the apps and losing some apps forever. Why bother? The thing works.

      When this one dies, I'll buy another T3 or perhaps a Tx on ebay. It would be nice if Palm continued to be innovative, but that's too much to ask. Jeff had a great idea 15 years ago, and it's helped change the world. But innovation marches on. I suppose eventually I'll get a nice new 80 gig iPhone or an 80 gig gPhone running linux. But for now, my trusty Palm just keeps on running, and will probably continue long after the company is gone.

  • The future caught up (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @03:53PM (#23984189) Homepage Journal

    Palm OS was brilliant at running PDA-style apps. However, that's not the direction portable computing was going, and Palm never did much to address the future. When every other platform was moving into media, Palm was proud of its third-party support calendars with more buttons.

    And don't get me started about the Graffiti 2 debacle ("Easy to learn, even if you'll never get faster!"). Instead of working out a deal to keep using Jot and its trickier-but-faster strokes, they switched to that two-stroke abomination that instantly cut power users' data entry speed in half. Way to save a penny, Palm!

    • by SuperQ (431) *

      Yes, the also lost the MHz war with WinCE. WinCE was such a hog for CPU and memory that all of the devices needed atleast 4x the CPU speed and RAM just to make something similar in function. People on slashdot whined and complained how the Palm had only a 25MHz dragonball when you could get a "much faster" 100+MHz Compaq or something. Too bad for Palm because the WinCE device would last for about a day on L-Ion rechargeable, and the Palm would be fine for a week or two on a couple of AAA batteries.

      PalmOS

    • by Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) <JetpackJohn@gmail.com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:07PM (#23986819) Homepage

      This is so painfully true...

      I'm the author of Weasel Reader [weaselreader.org] so I can speak to this as a Palm OS developer. In the beginning it was pretty nice. The OS was clean and easy to program for and the open source toolset worked great.

      The people who designed the original Palm OS did a very good job and this lasted up until about OS 3.5. After that... not a whole lot changed. OS 4 came out and there weren't really any compelling reasons to upgrade and the new/changed features sure didn't seem to warrant a major version increase.

      It was about this time that the Palm OS hardware market began to diversify and devices with different features began to appear. Things like expansion slots, higher resolutions, more buttons, etc. Unfortunately, they were done in a horribly haphazard manner with little guidance from Palm OS HQ. This meant conflicting ways of doing the same things and, as as developer, it's been a huge pain.

      Hi-res has especially been annoying. Originally, all devices were 160x160 so many programs and even the OS made assumptions based on this. Then Handera released a 240x240 device. They made it fairly easy to let your app support this resolution. Soon, Sony released several hi-res Clie devices with resolutions of 320x320 and they used a different method for programming. Finally, Palm woke up and for Palm OS 5 they added the hi-res feature set which did things in an entirely different manner.

      Now suppose you want your app to support 160x160 devices, Handera's 240x240, Sony's hi-res, and Palm's new hi-res standard. Not fun at all.

      OS 5 was, finally, a substantial improvement. All the newer devices moved from the m68k architecture to ARM CPUs. OS 5 helped to merge a number of divergent developments during the OS 3-4 period. Nearly all code is still m68k running on the PACE emulation layer, though. The *next* release was supposed to be native ARM and have far more support for native ARM apps, but it never came.

      The fun continued with other botched features. Even something as simple as extra buttons and keys. Many devices have jog-dials, but they all assign different keycodes to the same thing! Even the 5-way/d-pad buttons on newer Palm devices can work differently depending on what device you have.

      And the future? Access owns Palm OS now and they keep talking about a grand new Linux based Palm OS. But it's not out and who knows when it will be. Meanwhile, OS 5.x continues to age, any new features merely hacks glued onto the side of a framework not meant for this sort of customization.

      Ah well... it was a good run. I'd be less disappointed if I wasn't the author of software for the platform. I had always assumed that the next major PDA/phone platform would have the sense to license a Palm OS emulation layer. This couldn't cost all that much and would give customers access to thousands of existing PDA programs. And the existing hardware is more than capable of performing this task. Too bad...

    • by Steve001 (955086) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @01:00PM (#23991509)

      Just Some Guy wrote:

      Palm OS was brilliant at running PDA-style apps. However, that's not the direction portable computing was going, and Palm never did much to address the future. When every other platform was moving into media, Palm was proud of its third-party support calendars with more buttons.

      And don't get me started about the Graffiti 2 debacle ("Easy to learn, even if you'll never get faster!"). Instead of working out a deal to keep using Jot and its trickier-but-faster strokes, they switched to that two-stroke abomination that instantly cut power users' data entry speed in half. Way to save a penny, Palm!

      I strongly agree that Graffiti 2 (G2) was not an improvement over Graffiti 1 (G1). G2 was one of the biggest disappointments with my Palm T/X, so much so that I purchased TealScript specifically so I could program my T/X to use the G1 pen strokes (including the easier alternate ones). Regardless of the advantages in changing the input system, changing it is like changing the arrangement of the keys on a keyboard.

  • by fonik (776566) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @03:53PM (#23984191)
    Their hardware is solid. They just need to release an OS that is more capable than Windows 3.1.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wister285 (185087)

      Seriously. I saw one in Staples the other week and it looked like the same stuff they were selling back in 2002-2003.

      • by davolfman (1245316) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:45PM (#23984657)
        It IS the same stuff they were selling in 2002-2003. Or at least it's near identical to the T5 from 2004. The T|X has been around close to 3 years at this point with no changes, and as far as I can tell it has had only minimal support sense. Palm hasn't so much as even patched in new bluetooth phone profiles!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jcorno (889560)
          They've just stopped supporting it. They don't even have 64 bit drivers. Apparently they have no intention of releasing them ever. Seriously, XP x64 came out, what, 3 years ago? They just expect you to accept a crippled device that can't sync by USB.

          On top of that, they leave out a lot of software that should be included for basic functionality. Their sync software doesn't address memory cards. The best you can do is upload to the card, assuming the file type you're transferring is supported by a p
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rob Simpson (533360)
        Not quite. It's the same stuff they were selling back in 2004-2005. The stuff they sold back in 2002-2003 broke less often.
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:58PM (#23984799) Homepage

      Is the hardware really that good? I thought they hadn't been updating hardware significantly for the past few years. Seems like they should either get some better hardware together or drop the price some more.

      But also, their software was great for the time it was introduced... what... 10 years ago? They've been hopping between OS upgrades like Duke Nukem Forever has been hopping between game engines. They need to commit to one and build the fricken thing. It makes me sad that BeOS wasn't bought by someone with the ability to do anything with it.

  • by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @03:55PM (#23984209)

    Buying and selling their own name to themselves for 6 years. Leave palm alone. Just leave them alone. Can't you.

    Way back, Palm was not the only company making PDAs. They succeed because all the applications that were developed for them. Is anyone writing apps for the palm? Palm does not even know if it's Palm OS or WindowsCE.

    Rim was the next palm because they went the next step and integrated the back office into the thing with secure push e-mail and other apps.

    The iphone iswhat is next. It's not the touch screens per se. It's the fast processor and great IDE that will lead to the next generation of apps. If you saw the keynote you know I'm not blowing smoke: They showed a full blown medical imaging application ported to the iphone in less than a man week.

        The touchscreens main virtues are it's large area on a small device, and it's morhpability to the application. This is the next step. This is why for example Rim will be next to die after Palm. Look to Nokia and Android to actually compete against the I phone.

    • by fonik (776566)
      The iPhone SDK is not exactly the most awesome thing since sliced bread. The interface is easy to program, but you can only run one third party app at a time.

      Want to make a chat application? Have an ssh session running in the background? Have the wifi card work as a wireless router with an internet connection through the cellphone service? Nope, sorry. The hardware can do it, but it's not part of Steve Job's vision.
      • Jailbreak. Just because it's not part of steve's vision doesn't mean it won't happen on his hardware/software platform via third-parties.
      • by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:22PM (#23984441)

        Want to make a chat application? Have an ssh session running in the background? Have the wifi card work as a wireless router with an internet connection through the cellphone service? Nope, sorry. The hardware can do it, but it's not part of Steve Job's vision.

        You clearly did not watch the Keynote. They ridiculed this idea for mobile computing. Backround apps are the death of your battery. Do you really want to be dicking with task managers on a mobile device to find out what's using up your resources? And then there's apps that want persistent connections. Apple finessed that by giving away push notification server available to all developers.

        In the future your persistent connection (e.g the ssh connection) will be running on a server not on the iphone. The display might be on the iphone but the ssh session you are monitoring won't be on the iphone. You can stop and start this display app, just like it were a VNC connection or a unix "Screen" connection without affecting the ssh operation.

        Yes they have chat too. Yes Jobs said they will allow wifi phone service.

        You really ought to watch the keynote since you are quite mistaken in your information.

        • by fonik (776566)
          If dicking around with a task manager means that I have internet always available for every wifi device I happen to have within 100 feet, then yes. It seems like a good tradeoff.

          The point is that I'd rather have that choice.
        • by fonik (776566)
          Although, I do see your point. I'm looking for customization and functionality over ease of use and efficiency. Their target customer is not me.
        • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:45PM (#23984655)

          Do you really want to be dicking with task managers on a mobile device to find out what's using up your resources?

          Yes, god damn it! Give me the choice, at least! If you want simple computing, fine, but why should the device be forcibly limited using code signing? Have a little switch somewhere that lets me load any software I want onto the thing, then I can hack around the limits I don't want. But instead I'm only allowed to load Apple-approved code onto the device, crippling it far beyond what the hardware would otherwise allow.

          And then there's apps that want persistent connections. Apple finessed that by giving away push notification server available to all developers.

          Yeah, those are great for the two or three classes of applications that can actually use that technique. They're total crap for background music playing or maintaining an ssh connection or any of a dozen other tasks that maintaining a real persistent connection would be useful for.

          You really ought to watch the keynote since you are quite mistaken in your information.

          I can't speak for the other guy, but I watched it live. The iPhone is great hardware and a great OS but it's completely crippled by artificial restrictions.

    • the SDK/IDE (Score:4, Interesting)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:16PM (#23984399)

      The reason I think RIM will linger and then die is that they don't have the economic resources to compete with the iphone. They'll linger because they are damn good at what they do do. Bussinesses like them for the present better than iphones. the iphone killer app has yet to be written. And then there's the exclusive carrier contracts. But over time they won't beable to keep up with the application dev and versatility of the iphone.

      Nokia has the cash flow to try and fail four or five times from scratch against the iphone. They have the engineering chops to compete on performance. And if their first few attempts fail, the worst that happens is they lose the high end phone market till they come up with something to rival the iphone.

      Android the ability to compete with the iphone on apps and speed of software innovation. It can be backed by the google cloud and that may possibly turnout to be better than the apple cloud (though apple would just switch over if that were the case, but it would erase an apple exclusive advantage).

      Android + samsung can produce both awseome hardware and software at affordable prices and with substantial cash flow to back it till it catches on.

      But Apple still has a killer advantage: OSX and platform integration. OSX means people can write Hub apps for the apple desktops and then have companion mobile apps for the iphone. You won't have to re-write your code or support two platforms. Or have compatibility libs. Heck you won't even have to have two IDEs: Xcode does it all. So both from the developer and consumer point of view apple is much more fascile and seamless.

      Apple recently bought a low power chip maker so the horse power and battery lifr in these is going to keep getting better. Since apple will always be able to more tightly couple the OS and hardware, they are going to get every drop of power out of this thing. It used to be that it was the communication hardware that ate the batteries. Presumably nokia's better at that but with the new generation it's the computing and screen display power. Things like background service will eat your battery. Apple thus may have the better hardware strategy as well as the better software strategy.

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:22PM (#23984449) Homepage

      Buying and selling their own name to themselves for 6 years.

      Don't forget selling their OS, writing a new one from scratch, shelving it, buying back the old one, then rewriting it again, all the while promising "It's gonna be Linux!" Color me unimpressed. [infoworld.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by i0lanthe (198512)

      I used to write 3rd party freeware for the Palm. I was an early adopter. I had fun with it. I had to take a little time off when I had kids, and every time I tried to go back, Palm got in my way. New OS with an emulator that only runs on Windows? Every time I try to catch up with their developer resources, download an SDK maybe, they've moved to a different domain name and threw away my old password ("old" but dating back only to the previous domain move)? Gave up and took up knitting (at least the mo

  • What (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Have Blue (616) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:00PM (#23984263) Homepage
    RIM happened, then Apple happened.
  • Obsolete software (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Simon80 (874052) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:01PM (#23984271)
    Shipping an obsolete OS is what killed Palm. I stopped caring about them in 2005 when I realized that they were never going to ship any hardware with Palm OS 6. I don't know whether Palm OS 6 would have generated more success than Palm OS 5, but lo and behold, it's 2008, and they're still shipping an OS that lacks multitasking support and dates back to 2002. It's no surprise, then, that they are failing in an industry that is rife with competition from more modern software.
  • by djblair (464047) * on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:04PM (#23984303)

    Palm once led the PDA market. Their PalmOS platform was revolutionary in the 90's because it was flexible, fostered good battery life and most importantly was easy to use. When Palm moved into the smartphone market, they did very little to revamp their aging operating system. Rather, Palm tacked on advanced wireless functionality their platform couldn't really handle. They are losing to Apple and RIM because these companies designed their hardware and software from the ground up for rock-solid email and voice communication.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MMC Monster (602931)

      They lost because the PDA market itself imploded.

      Why bother with a PDA when smart phones do everything just as well.

      As for their smartphone offerings, the PalmOS tried to maintain backwards with early Palm systems compatibility while the others could start from scratch.

      Doom.

  • Palm's market share shrank about 75% because they are losing out to other OS's, including Microsoft Mobile which grew quite impressively last year. RIM's market share has been pretty constant. Linux is also growing - at least enough to be more than a line on the pie chart now. Android isn't even a blip at the moment and has nothing to do with Palm's problems.

  • He's dead Jim (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:10PM (#23984349) Homepage

    What happened to Palm? What can the company do to effectively compete in the mobile market, and turn its fortunes around?"

    Not a thing. Stick a fork in them, they're done.

  • by blhack (921171) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:16PM (#23984401)

    Make a phone that is aimed at business users.

    remember blackberry? the old one? the one that ONLY did email?

    That little device with its tiny niche' market rocketed RIM to the company that they currently are. Unfortunately RIM has completely lost sight of what used to make them so incredible. The market needs a new paradigm for business phones. there used to be nextel, and the blackberry 7520 (which i said they could have when they pried it from my cold, dead fingers) but sprint is basically flusing nextel down the toilets. they're hoping to phase out the network and poach the users onto sprint.

    This is all another story...

    The point is that there is definetely a group of consumers out there who don't WANT a phone with an MP3 player, a camera, lots and lots of bright, shiny surfaces, tiny buttons, etc. etc. we don't want phones that we designed for the 15-20 female market. We don't.

    Lets look at something like the blackberry 7520 (the phone that i had up until yesterday) to the blackberry curve (which i have now had for about 24 hours).

    The 7520 (which was an astounding success, btw) was big. really big. But we LIKED that about it. It was rugged, I would routinely chuck it across the office to demonstrate to the non-believers why it was so amazing. Its size also allowed it to have BIG keys...ones that you could type on. The screen was recessed, it NEVER got scratched, ever.
    This is the type of thing that business users want....functionality.

    Now lets look at the curve:
    the buttons are f*cking tiny. You can't type with your thumbs, you have to use your fingernails. I can only assume that this is because the phone was designed for 8 year old girls. The dropped the scroll wheel on the side that made the old blackberries have such a (in my mind) LEGENDARY interface. Honestly that was one of the best interfaces i have EVER used. They dropped it for a stupid trackball that, while pretty, is all but useless unless you use two hands to operate the phone.

    Okay...rant rant rant rant...i hate the new blackberry, but this is my point:

    A market (that used to be dominated by RIM) has been abandoned. there is a sizable gap that needs to be filled, and this is Palm's opportunity to start turning a profit again.

    If you dont' belive me about the 7520, ask anybody that owned one. Most of the people that did still keep it (with the service turned off if they have to) as an organizer. It was just THAT good, and there currently is nothing on the market that offers the same level of functionality.

    • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:33PM (#23984545) Homepage

      ...but sprint is basically flusing nextel down the toilets. they're hoping to phase out the network and poach the users onto sprint.

      As someone who has been watching Sprint for years I can tell you your assertion is patently false. Sprint is not trying to kill Nextel.

      Sprint continues to do everything they can to shoot themselves in the foot. They acquired Nextel in large part to protect their foot (like a shield) and keep them afloat (cell phone company floaties and a mixed metaphor!).

      Sprint isn't killing Nextel, they are going down themselves and Nextel is being dragged with them.

      More on-topic, Palm's problem is clear. The OS today is clearly based on the original OS from ~1996. We owned one of those (with the US Robotics name and all). It was a nice device. But while everyone else moved on (and Windows CE/Mobile/PDA/whatever it is now) pushed many new capabilities into the devices. Palm continued to ignore everything (to the point that Handspring was formed) but still things haven't changed. The company ran themselves into the ground.

      How do they fix it? No idea. They need a new OS. Not the one they've been promising for 5 years, something new, and good. But at this point, you have to beat Apple (ha!), Microsoft (plenty of investment), RIM (took what could have been Palm's market), plus every other cell phone company.

      Frankly, I think they're gone. It's just time. I don't know if anyone could bring it back.

      • by blhack (921171)

        As someone who has been watching Sprint for years I can tell you your assertion is patently false. Sprint is not trying to kill Nextel.

        it sure seems that way. Every time i would call our rep for more phones i would have to sit through them trying to get me to switch to sprint. they have also done almost nothing as far as bettering their service in my market (phoenix), which is why we finally dropped them.

    • by vic-traill (1038742) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @05:19PM (#23985003)

      The dropped the scroll wheel on the side that made the old blackberries have such a (in my mind) LEGENDARY interface. Honestly that was one of the best interfaces i have EVER used. They dropped it for a stupid trackball that, while pretty, is all but useless unless you use two hands to operate the phone.

      I liked my 7520 too, and I agree with your comments about key size, etc. But I'm surprised by your comments about the trackball. I was more than ready to hate the trackball when I got my 8830, but surprise, I liked it more than the scroll wheel. It balances better in my hand, as the point of balance is centred on the trackball, rather than over to the right as it was with the scroll wheel.

      I'm not very confident about the durability of the trackball, though. I've had it stop tracking in one or more directions twice. Turns out that a little spit and rotation gets the grit in the trackball out of the way, and you're good to go again. I suspect that over time this will become a bigger problem, as grit seems to get into the mechanism easily, and there is no complete way to clean it (remember that mouseballs used to have this problem, but you could take them apart and give them a through cleaning, which you can't with the 8830 trackball).

      Your comment about the screen recessing on the 7520 points to an issue with the 8830 - the screen is *not* recessed, and mine was getting pretty scuffed up after four months use.

      I had my first 8830 replaced under warranty after the keyboard went berserk. Keys started to fail, and then start working again, while other keys started to fail at the same time. It was like the problem was circulating through my keyboard; it did make life exciting though, as you found out what keys weren't working on a particular day. The biggest problem was when the Alt key and Del key weren't working at the same time. My PIN had numbers in it, which made it impossible to unlock.

      Overall, I don't think that the 8830 has the durability of the 7520, and even though I do like the trackball, I don't think it is going to last in service. I never had any issue with the scroll wheel.

  • by ricegf (1059658) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:17PM (#23984415) Journal

    Palm suffers from the same fatal illness that has killed so many once-promising companies - totally inept management.

    From their board minutes: "Let's make a Linux OS! No, wait, let's buy BeOS and use that! Great, it works, now let's not ship any products that run it! Now let's announce another Linux OS! Now let's announce an UMPC with a different, incompatible Linux OS than the first one - I mean, second one. Now on shipping day, let's cancel the UMPC and "commit" to the first Linux OS! Let's write an emulator that runs on another company's tablet, and give it away for free - but not ship a product of our own that runs it! And in the meantime, to keep our customers entertained, let's keep selling the Palm name to ourselves over and over again!"

    Didn't these guys used to run Atari?

  • I use overpriced phones for work, I used to love my PalmOS devices (ohhh, how shiny my Visor Prism was..) but then other PDA devices came along that actually supported multitasking and I never looked back.

    This may seem excessive to some, but I will routinely handle trouble tickets on my phone (currently a company supplied Blackberry Curve). This involves 'tabbing' between e-mail, a web browser (for customer information), and an ssh client (to resolve their issue). On Palm devices applications in th

  • Quite simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:22PM (#23984447) Homepage Journal

    Palm is the new Amiga. They both had great devices that were ahead or the best of their era, but then decided to sit on their butts and stop innovating.

    That's what happened.

  • customer service? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:26PM (#23984487) Homepage Journal

    What happened is they started with a good product and nonexistent customer support, and they just rested on their laurels instead of building their customer loyalty through good service. Now better products have come out, and products with actual customer service have entred the market. What happens after that is only natural.

    If you have a problem with your palm pilot, your only hope is to find a forum where some other unfortunate soul has ran into the same thing and managed to figure out how to fix it, and was generous enough to share their experience. Either that or you'll find 35 threads of others having the same issue and nobody has figured out how to fix it.

    Yes I own a palm pilot. Right now my screen refuses to re-calibrate the stylus (no it's not a "screen wedgie") so I have to press 1/8" below wherever I want to click, and there's evidently no way to fix it short of replacing it. Lucky me.

  • They refused to innovate where they needed to. Palm OS was interesting when I first saw it, what? 10 or more years ago? Sure, the phones got more and more advanced, but it's roughly akin to Apple's refusal to leave OS8 and OS9 behind and advance to a modern OS. All the legacy users will drag you down when you can't pull any more new users in because your phones' software was written when Java was considered new. Innovate or die happened to Palm. If they can come out with a new OS they might stand a chance
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:29PM (#23984505) Homepage Journal

    In 2004, Palm planned to convert [palminfocenter.com] PalmOS into nothing but a GUI and backwards compatibility API layer, replacing the OS with Linux. Lots of Palm software assets and licenses were transferred among Palm, China MobileSoft, and the Japanese "Access" mobile SW company [com.com] over the next year or two.

    By now, we should be able to get smartphones with easy Web access, the thousands of little PalmOS apps, and all the Linux apps, all upgradable at a "tap" over the air or USB from the Internet. But it never happened. Instead, Palm put out a couple of different models of Treo, which were excellent phones when released, but rapidly eclipsed by more frequent updated releases of Symbian and Windows phones.

    I bet what happened was that just announcing a PalmOS/Linux smartphone earned its execs and directors a lot of money, money changed hands in the endless spinoffs/acquisitions/mergers, but no one ever paid a team to convert the phone to Linux or PalmOS as a layer on top of it.

    Another good question is why I can't just install Linux on any of the new phones with HW compatible with it, and keep my telephone service contract. That should be easy by now, and shouldn't require Palm to do it.

  • by darkPHi3er (215047) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:30PM (#23984517) Homepage

    This thread is peculiar timing for me, as i just spent the last few days resurrecting my Visor Prism for a Head-to-Head with my Dell Axim x51v and my AT&T Tilt...

    The long and short of the comparsion? Palm never confronted Wince and its Descendants...

    My early Palm's, the III's and the V's, were SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE EARLY WINCE PDA'S...

    Good screens, GREAT battery life, and once you got the hang of Graffiti...you could fly on
    entry. The Wince recognizer STILL isn't quite as good as the early Palm.

    The Palms were soooo much better that Palm had the market essentially all to itself. For the FIRST FEW YEARS.

    But then, Palm failed to grow, Palm failed to innovate (How old is Garnet?)... ....and each generation of Windows PDA got slowly and slightly better.

    So, i remember attending the MS PDC in Denver ('97) and spending over 8 (F******) hours, working on my Compaq Companion (rebranded Casio Cassiopeia), getting the modem and Pocket Outlook and Pocket Explorer working over a 9600 baud connection. If the "windows" in my 16th story hotel room had opened, the Companion would have taken a Unscheduled Flight.

    OTOH, my x51v (with a Stowaway BT Folding KB) has around 90% the ESSENTIAL functionality of my current laptops, and the x51v is a 3-year old PDA.

    YES, the battery life on the Axim sucks, Yes, the Windows Mobile 5 Pocket apps are still a little underpowered and slightly flaky.

    However, in raw functionality, my TX has less power than my x51v, Garnet is flakier than WM5, and i have to go to a bunch of 3rd party apps to get equivalent functionality with the Axim.

    The TX's battery life is not all that much better, and the display screen isn't half as good.

    ON THE BLACKBERRY SIDE; email on the Treo 700, though way better then my Treo 180, is still a relative PIA, compared to the Idiot Simple usage of a Blackberry.

    And though i vastly prefer my Curve2 to my old Pearl, both of them had equivalent basic functionality to the Treo 700 in line-of-business apps, such as contacts and appointments.

    Internet access on the BB is just a little behind the best of the 3G/4G phones. Display is also slightly-to-moderately behind, but has been catching up.

    So, Palm got beat by cellphones on voice and Internet connectivity. Palm got beat by Wince on applications deployment and display. Palm got slaughtered by RIM on email functionality. Palm (along with everyone else) GOT MASS MURDERED BY Apple on multimedia delivery, which will only get worse with the 3G iPhone.

    And both LG and Samsung, gigantic industrial conglomerates with HUGE MONEY, are lining up to play whack-a-mole with the iPhone. They may not succeed, but they WILL deliver many more powerful cellular devices to further eclipse the Palm line.

    I STILL LOVE MY PRISM, but it's SOOO Olde Skul...

    Palm SHOULD HAVE become the "iPhone", but they got fat and lazy with a dedicated user base.

    Then once they fell behing they didn't have the: talent, vision or resources to catch up.

    Palm -- "The PDA That Time Forgot"

  • by guanxi (216397) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:31PM (#23984525)

    Palm's demise was common wisdom when it was still dominant in the marketplace, and I never understood why. Even today, the several-year-old OS is better than Blackberry at everything but e-mail, and better than Windows Mobile at everything (I switched from Palm to Windows for a few years and just switched back; what a relief and pleasure to not be fighting my phone all the time).

    I understand the OS can't multitask, but they've had plenty of time to correct that. I suspect it's too complicated for most consumers, and does not provided features needed by corporate IT for management, support and integration. But they've had plenty of time to correct that, too.

    I'm sorry to see it die off. I love my Treo 755p. It's incredibly efficient, very reliable and, for my needs, highly functional.

  • It sounds like there were spending too much time fantasizing about their profits, 'cause it sounds like things are getting pretty hairy over there...
  • by m0nkyman (7101) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:32PM (#23984531) Homepage Journal

    What happened is they lost their best people to Handspring. From that point on it's been all downhill.

  • What happened to Palm is arrogance and greed.

    They should have switched to Linux as their primary platform around 2000, putting a PalmOS emulator on top of it and working with the open source community. This is no 20/20 hindsight, I was saying the same thing back then.

    But they wanted to own it all and develop it all themselves.

    What can the company do to effectively compete in the mobile market, and turn its fortunes around?"

    Join Android or Limo. Even if the market were still receptive to another platform,

  • by Deathlizard (115856) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:42PM (#23984633) Homepage Journal

    1) Spinning off the Palm software division. One of the reasons Palm worked so well was that it's hardware and software were tightly integrated. Removing that integration turned them into just another PDA/Smartphone manufacturer with nothing different to offer. Add to that a hardware third party (the only reason they split in the first place) that basically imploded and a buyout of the software division, and you got a disaster on your hands.

    2) Axing off Hotsync Server. I had more execs wanting this function than I could count just so their secretaries could update their calendars on the fly. So when they couldn't get it because Palm decided it wasn't important enough, they switched to Outlook, since Exchange could share calendars over the network. Add to that the frustration of getting a Palm to sync with Outlook without duplicating something and you got a recipe to can your palm with something that syncs right, like Windows mobile or RIM.

    3) Switching from Dragonball to Xscale. My Kyocera 6035 smartphone is over 6 years old. Personally, I usually get 7 days use out of my phone before I have to recharge it, and thats with a 6 year old battery. New it used to go for 2-3 weeks with moderate usage. Show me a Palm phone that could get 3-5 days without a charge out of the box. The Dragonball processors were not the fastest chips out there, but were unbeatable in the energy usage department. When Palm switched, the devices got fatter, bigger, and sucked battery life like water, All without offering a big benefit vs older Palms. I guess you now got more memory and more functionality available but what difference does it make to the exec that just using it for his calendar and contacts? All he knows is that his palm's battery lasts 1/4 of the amount of time of his old m515 and is twice as thick. So he tosses the palm to his secretary and goes out and gets that blackberry that everyone is talking about.

  • I currently own a Palm Tungsten T3(my previous PDA was a Palm m550) and until a year 1/2 ago was genuinely useful.
    It did everything I wanted; play music, read pdfs, various programming options and browse the Internet with my mobile phone. There are/were many useful applications for it, Office software, font anti-aliasing software(way before Pocket PCs could do it) and even a Java VM (no longer downloadable because Palm discontinued it - this could have made it much more useful - mind you the implementation

  • I've been a Palm user for many years (Palm II) and I can tell you they haven't done anything for a long time. My Treo600 was pretty nice for its day. The 650 became nice plus bluetooth. The new Centro became nice plus bluetooth minus weight at the expense of screen size at that has to be the meat of it.

    How much has the palm device has changed over the past few years. I haven't seen much of anything new since the treo600. How many years has that been without any significant innovation. The Centro is a sad
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:47PM (#23984681)

    First PDA was an M130, amazing piece of hardware with an amazing price point for the mobile market. I was sorely disappointed when it went tits up. Bought another, died again for unspecified reasons. But I was hooked at that point and got a Tungsten E. Far more durable, in part I attribute this to the optional clamshell protective case. Pretty screen, interesting software options, but doomed due to Palm's lackluster embrace of the wireless world. The whole Palm/PalmOne branding fiasco, lack of focus on product lines that actually fit market needs, and other douchebaggery ceded too much market share to other smartphones. Palm should have beaten Apple to the iPhone years ago, PDA's are supposed to be their fucking core competency! Blackberry beat them to it even earlier.

    I got a Berry 7250 with my last job and the PDA became sorely neglected. The office integration was slick and I did all of my contact management/scheduling/note crap in there, plus email, etc. For casual entertainment, the internet was more than sufficient for browsing news sites, message boards, etc. The PDA was relegated to ebook reader. I like the idea of carrying reading material with me for whenever there's unanticipated downtime.

    Lost the Berry when I switched jobs. Don't really feel the lack of the berry since the new position has different responsibilities, less mobile tech support and stuff, more desk-bound. PDA is back doing service as primary downtime reading device. The iPhone has a certain lure, especially with the big price break/performance increase, but I'm trying to avoid picking one up just on gee-whiz factor alone.

    What I really liked about Palm and PalmOS is that there was a real PC mentality. "Hey, it's your hardware, do whatever the hell you want with it." Early palm adopters were very hacking-oriented and they came up with uses for the device the designers never anticipated. I loved the docs2go program with the ability to sync down a copy of a word doc and edit it on the palm. The IR keyboard turned it into a proper cheap-ass laptop and was pretty much in a class of its own until the ultra-lowend laptops started coming out recently. The thing that pissed me off about all the other portable devices, even the berry, is that they're less hacker-friendly. I've yet to see a berry ebook reader or even a means of uploading a text file to it. Emails truncate anything too large, same goes for putting large amounts of text in outlook notes. Adobe never wrote an acrobat reader for it like they did with palm.

    I'm still not sure how much of a walled garden the iPhone is going to be. From the sounds of it, it'll be more open than typical American cell phones but less open than the pc's we've all come to know and love. I'm interested in seeing how it develops. I'm just very sad that Palm so thoroughly suicided itself. We'd probably be five years ahead of where we are know if they had their shit together.

  • Lots of problems (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjbe (173966) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:52PM (#23984725)

    1) They haven't bothered to significantly upgrade their technology in years. Their development cycles are too slow and they've been milking their platforms as cash cows for too long with too little improvement.

    2) PalmOS was clearly a dead end years ago and their Windows based systems basically outsource the crown jewels (the software) to Microsoft.

    3) Treos were nifty at first but they've stagnated compared to the competition. Palm missed the idea that email is a killer app and never developed the backend infrastructure RIM did.

    4) They don't have the financial resources or scale to compete long term with Nokia, RIM or Apple. And they have no defensible or must-have products to compensate.

    5) Their "strategy" has been insane. There is no focus to the company. No vision. They buy technology and never use it. They break the company up for no clear reason and then put it back together.

  • by kazrak (31860) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @04:56PM (#23984765)

    Every mistake that the pundits wanted Apple to make, Palm tried.

    They licensed out their OS. Then, because the licensees were complaining about Palm's unfair advantage, they split into separate hardware and software companies. They even bought Be, which everyone said Apple should have done instead of buying NeXT.

    So what happened?

    Well, the software side (PalmSource) came out with a fancy new OS based on the BeOS stuff they bought. And...the licensees all said "We'll get to it."

    So PalmSource said, "Oh, and the 6.1 version will be even better!" So the licensees (including PalmOne, the hardware side) said, "Great! Tell us when it's ready."

    So PalmSource panicked and said, "...um, great! Um...hey...we'll make our next OS based on Linux!" And the licensees said, "Oh, okay, we'll wait for that one then."

    And so, without planning to, they committed the one fatal error when you're up against Microsoft - they stood still. Microsoft can't catch a moving target, but stand still and they'll run you over. The PDA market dried up and all the licensees bailed. PalmSource got sold off to a Linux company. PalmOne decided to make a Linux OS of their own, and it'll be ready Real Soon Now.

  • by rs232 (849320) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @05:09PM (#23984915)
    'Palm Computing filed lawsuits in Germany and Italy against Microsoft on Thursday, stating that the "Palm PC" designation will cause too much confusion among consumers .. a Microsoft spokesperson said.

    "We don't see how the name Palm PC [windowsitpro.com] conflicts with the name PalmPilot."
    '

    Yea, who would confuse Lindows [wikipedia.org] with Windows .. :)
  • by Blice (1208832) <Lifes@Alrig.ht> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @05:18PM (#23984993)
    This was a letter from Engadget to Palm back in 2007, it left an impression on me after I read it. I think most of it still applies today.



    Dear Palm,

    Man, what a crazy year, right? We know things haven't really been going your way lately, but we want you to know that we haven't given up on you, even though it might seem like the only smartphone anyone wants to talk about these days is the iPhone. It can be hard to remember right now, but you used to be a company we looked to for innovation. You guys got handhelds right when everyone else, including Apple, was struggling to figure it out. And it was the little things that made those early Palm Pilots great -- you could tell that someone had gone to a lot of trouble to think about what made for a great mobile experience, like how many (or rather, few) steps it took to perform common tasks.

    The problem is that lately we haven't seen anything too impressive out of you guys. Sure, over the past few years the Treo has emerged as a cornerstone of the smartphone market, but you've let the platform stagnate while nearly everyone (especially Microsoft and HTC, Symbian and Nokia, RIM, and Apple) has steadily improved their offerings. So we've thrown together a few ideas for how Palm can get back in the game and (hopefully) come out with a phone that people can care about. (And we're not talking about the Centro / Gandolf.) Read on.


    So yeah, it was probably a smart move to recognize that you needed to offer a Windows Mobile version of the Treo to appeal to enterprise users, but there are literally millions and millions of consumers who want a high-end, powerful mobile computer that isn't built around Exchange server support. What they're looking for is a great user experience. Apple has done a good job tapping into that market, but there's still a huge opportunity out there for Palm to offer a smartphone that's just as engaging as the iPhone, but that's also open, rather than closed, and more geared towards productivity.

    Frankly, you've taken a turn from being the respected underdog and innovator to repeat offender in stale gear. Every press release you issue or "leaked" photo we see these days is another dent in your already banged up armor, and really, we're not sure how much more we can take -- our loyalty has practically become an embarrassment among peers. The New York Times totally nailed it when they said "Palm is about to release a new model in its Treo line and photos leak out to silence." That said, we humbly submit a few (mainly practical) suggestions for how you can turn things around, organized by hardware, software, and other.

    Hardware

    Get thin - Three words: FIGURE IT OUT. If HTC, Apple, and Motorola can offer thin (and we mean friggin' thin) smartphones, you can too. We know you think the Treo is perfectly proportioned, but it's not. It's chubby. No excuses any more, ok? It doesn't have to be as thin as the iPhone, but you've gotta trim some of the fat.

    Bigger, higher resolution displays - Make the screen bigger and up the resolution and you'll go a long way towards winning us back. There's no reason the 750 shouldn't have 320 x 320 (or higher) -- Windows Mobile 6 supports that, or didn't you hear? But for new devices you might want to have the keyboard slide out, like with the HTC Hermes or the Samsung i730. It's a really smart move. The long and short of it is this: if you can find some way to marry the expanse of something like the iPhone's or G900's massive, high res screens and still retain the spirit of the Palm keyboard, people will be very interested.

    Speaking of the keyboard, don't mess too much with it - Apple may or not add a physical keyboard to the iPhone (our money says it won't happen), but the one the Treo has now is pretty good and it's pretty much the one thing that's keeping a lot of Treo owners from jumping ship. And from what we hear, the Centro is going to have a keyboard that's "impossible to type on" -- not
  • by TRRosen (720617) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @05:38PM (#23985145)
    like many tech companies Palm has succumb to NBTS ... Next Big Thing Syndrome. Instead of maintaining its succesful product Palm put all its effort into the NBT trying to be the smartphone leaders while abandoning its lead in PDAs. Palm hasn't made a new PDA in years and its software is languishing. Now imagine if palm had an ounce of smarts and had continued to work on the life drive. Giving it a 30+ hard drive or an 16Gb flash mmmmmm would look a lot like an ipod touch wouldn't it.
  • by cbreaker (561297) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @05:45PM (#23985177) Journal

    I like the Treo phones; they are capable and the ones with the Palm OS are pretty good. Nice screens, etc.

    But, every time I go to shop for a new phone, the Palm PDA-type phones are always so damned expensive. When I can get a Windows Mobile phone for free (or $99 for a delux one) with my plan, paying $600 for a Treo doesn't seem to make much sense.

    They've marketed for a fairly small segment it seems, so I don't know why it's a surprise that they're struggling.

  • by zullnero (833754) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @06:30PM (#23985507) Homepage
    The problem with Palm was simple. They were a hardware company with a software arm. They spun off the software side so they could offer devices with different OSs, mainly so they no longer had to compete with Microsoft. The software side created a mobile OS that was technically superior to most out there, but cheap hardware couldn't run the microthreaded OS real effectively.

    Enter Linux. Palm has been working on a Linux kernel based OS for the past couple years now. When I was down there awhile back, they were hiring Linux guys in a major way. They're at least as far along as Android, and maybe further. The main reason you don't hear about Palm's Linux distro is because they keep tight lipped about things, unlike Android, which has been more about marketing than about actual development now for a long, long time. The thing is, Palm takes longer because they tend to do wild things like...make developer tools available before the thing is released...stuff that Apple could never be bothered with doing properly.
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @07:21PM (#23985811) Journal
    Worse development platform ever. 16 bit CPU. Segmented memory model. Eventually a 32 bit CPU but the OS is still emulated 16 bit and you essentially have to hack in 32 bit routines (with endianness swapping) like the way you used to make USR() calls from BASIC to your assembly language routines. Want to write an application that adapts to any (possibly dynamically sized) sized screen on any Palm device? Keep working at it, maybe you'll get there eventually. Want to multitask? More or less impossible. Want to access Palm files and databases like a regular file system? Sorry, no can do. So don't even think of using the libraries you thought were portable that you'd developed elsewhere.

    When Palm started they had these piddly little 68000 CPUs and less than a meg of RAM. They did the right thing - they followed the Zen of OS design and produced a minimal OS that performed amazingly on such a machine. But recent Palm machines are way more powerful than the workstations I used to have on my desktop. You can't control a beast like that with a toy OS. The MS strategy was correct after all - write a slow bloated OS because one day, in the not too distant future, it will cease to seem slow and bloated on fast new devices without anyone having to change a line of code. Maybe there's a message there: take into account what's available today, but make sure you're writing code in such a way that it'll last as long as you expect your business to last.

    And after countless years, did Palm *ever* write a tool that allowed you to find out what was actually stored on your Palm? None of the Palms I ever owned had such a feature.

  • Treos happened (Score:3, Informative)

    by nightfire-unique (253895) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @07:37PM (#23985921)

    Firstly, I want to say that for the entire 2-year period I owned a Treo, I desperately wanted it to be the perfect device. It was so close.

    But, what happened to Palm is simple: their flagship device was simply not something you could rely on.

    Because "franken" garnet (palmos 5) had no form of memory protection or scheduling, a million little hacks were needed to make it seem like a modern, functional OS. Users were demanding advanced functionality (like background processing for MP3 players), and instead of introducing a modern OS core (ie. cobalt or palm's UI on linux), they chose to hack in feature after feature to the ancient palmos 5. It was cheaper (in the short-term).

    The treo 650 was somewhat stable if you didn't do anything with it. If you simply used it as a phone, never installed any software, and rebooted it regularly, you could usually count on it to function when you needed it.

    If, however, you installed any software (particularly that which runs in the background), within a month or two the phone would start crashing randomly. It didn't matter which software you installed; eventually, one or two apps would cause device instability, and you could spend days and days trying to figure out what was wrong. I'm saying this a 24/7 debian user, sysadmin, with 10 years C/perl/java experience (and having even written several palmos apps); I truly can't imagine trying to debug a treo as a business user.

    In the end, a phone/PDA must be reliable. It cannot drop calls, forget to notify you of an appointment, or lose data. The treo failed on all three fronts.

    Compounding this fundamental flaw was the fact that Palm (the company) was so arrogantly silent on the issue, slow to release patches (most of which didn't work anyway), and often in denial that the problem even existed. When confronted, often their line was "it's your 3rd party applications." Wrong answer. This is a modern computing device. If the OS crashes, it is not the fault of the applications. What is this, 1992?

    This was the major problem, but not the only. Lack of automated background sync, simple over-the-network sync, true multitasking (or even context-saving task switching), sufficient workspace memory, and wifi made it even less attractive. The sudden rush towards Windows Mobile alienated the remaining Palm supporters, who were hoping for Cobalt (palmos 6), not WM5.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @07:59PM (#23986053)
    They failed to capitalize on their strengths.

    It is not that their OS could not keep up... it could. My Palm Tungsten (not even the newer version) runs some excellent third-party applications that can read/write documents compatible with Word and other word processors, read / write spreadsheets from Excel and other brands, display PDFs quite well, swap screen orientation, display picture files (.gif, .jpg, etc.) play .wav, .mp3, and other audio formats with a very capable mp3-player application, display videos from many video formats (after a brief but easy conversion process).

    It was great. Bluetooth, wifi, etc. The touchscreen was great and the handwriting recognition was very good. Often better than trying to type it all it.

    In short, the Palm had almost all the little pieces that go into the iPhone today, 3 or 4 years ago! So... what went wrong?

    They did not take all those pieces and put them all together into a single, smooth package or set of features. The completely failed to capitalize on those strengths, and instead threw them away.

    Example: the Treo phone. Now, among the STRENGTHS of the Palm were: nice high-resolution touch screen, and good writing recognition OR a pop-up on-screen keyboard. So, what did Palm do on the Treo? They made the screen SMALLER, scratched default Graffiti support, and put in a shitty little blackberry-style keyboard! I.e., they adopted a competitor's solution and at the same time gave up two of the advantages they had over that competitor (Blackerry).

    They followed that pattern in a number of other ways... compromising their own strengths in order to cater to the perceived desires of their competitors' customers.

    That is simply not a way to get ahead.

    Palm could have BEEN the iPhone, 2 years before the iPhone. But they dropped the ball. Again and again and again, they "compromised" by giving up their better features in order to emulate others.
  • by drolli (522659) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @12:59AM (#23987663) Journal
    I had a palm M105, which i loved very much (especially for it's capability to accept AAA Standard batteries and rechargables, which are available even in the middle of nowhere). It did what it should-it kept my Adresses, my Appointments and my notes - and was well readable in bright sunlight (simple plain monochrome LCD). Then I bought a Z31 (after the M105 was stolen). It wis not readable in Sunlight, but i overall appreciate it because you can use it as MP3-Player and the memory card gives you space to store dictionaries etc. In End of 2006 my beloved Nokia 6310i started to fail and it was clear i was going to Japan for my Job. So i decided to get a smartphone. I tried to find a Palm Treo to buy (i really would have liked it), but missing 3G just excluded the models from the list. Now, nearly two years later, i see still no Palm OS device with 3G. For me it's dead. I am missing a lot of the convenience of the palm's PIM functions on my Nokia E61, but i have gotten used to it. I am looking forward to the day when a Palm OS Emulator will appear for Symbian OS to run the old calendar app on a Version of a Nokia Phone with a touchscreen.

A method of solution is perfect if we can forsee from the start, and even prove, that following that method we shall attain our aim. -- Leibnitz

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