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Palm's Software Chief Quits 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the out-of-hand dept.
alphadogg writes "Michael Abbott, the head of Palm's software and services team, will leave the company at the end of next week, according to a regulatory filing Palm made on Friday to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. He submitted his resignation on Monday and will leave the company on April 23, Palm said. The resignation came as reports surface that the struggling handset maker is seeking a buyer. Last month Palm reported disappointing results for the quarter that ended Feb. 26. Its Pre and Pixi smartphone lines, which run the WebOS operating system, are up against a growing number of smartphones using Google's Android platform as well as Apple's popular iPhone."
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Palm's Software Chief Quits

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  • by karmaflux (148909) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @12:48PM (#31882368)

    Access owns PalmOS, Access owns BeOS, WebOS was a failure, and it's a damn shame, but Palm hasn't done anything worthwhile since the Treo 650. I loved my Treos, and I loved the Kyocera 6035 I had before them, but the only value Palm provides these days is nostalgia.

    • Have you actually used WebOS?

      It didn't fail because of the OS. (Well, OK, them dragging their feet on native code didn't help, but the OS is quite good, and probably has the best UI of any mobile OS today.)

      Even the marketing didn't do it.

      It's the hardware that's absolute crap.

      • by dn15 (735502)

        Have you actually used WebOS?

        It didn't fail because of the OS. (Well, OK, them dragging their feet on native code didn't help, but the OS is quite good, and probably has the best UI of any mobile OS today.)

        Even the marketing didn't do it.

        It's the hardware that's absolute crap.

        I have to agree. As an iPhone owner I thought the WebOS interface looked pretty nice. It's a shame this is happening to Palm because it seems like they had the start of something great.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 17, 2010 @12:58PM (#31882406)

        I agree, WebOS is simply amazing. I've used an iPhone for over two years and switched to using the Pre recently, WebOS is the most elegant mobile platform around. The iPhone OS and Anround are both nice, but I think if more people actually gave WebOS a try, they'd love it.

        and yes, the hardware is pretty bad, not "absolute crap" -- but need quite a bit of improvement :(

      • by jellomizer (103300) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @01:39PM (#31882580)

        You can put a lot of money into marketing a good product and it can still fail.
        1. The Name WebOS... Sounds kinda gimiky to me. The Web is Popular and we want an os that sounds like it will be good at browsing the web... How About WebOS. That name sound so 90's to me that it isn't funny.
        2. Timing. At around the same time other companies tried to make lame iPhone wannabes. The fact the blackberry storm stunk at the same time put credit to people well if I want something like an iPhone ill get an iPhone.
        3. What I call the OS/2 Warp add campaign. A lot of talk but little showing the product in what it does... You need to give credit to Apples adds. They show you how to use the phone as part of the add. Web OS adds where soo... All the apps I need to run will be on the web...
        4. Tried to be an iPhone killer... Palm wasn't in a position to go head on head with Apple. The whatever you can do I can do better type of stuff really hurt Palm especially as they lowered their prices. Because if it was that much cheaper it must be a cheap ripoff
        5. the iTunes compatibility thing. That was rather unethical business by palm in the first place to in essence hack the phone to make it look like an iPod... Then to market it as iTunes compatible. Then try to complain about USB compliance to Apple because apple stopped the hole. Then to push it further until they lost their USB compatibility. In the mean time you give customers a feature which breaks on them until the next update... Not giving them positive reviews.
        6. Crappy Developers Emulator... Sorry a VirtualBox that runs a Linux distro that runs Web OS... Without physical buttons that actually let you go back. It made it a pain to do development on it so developers will go well I will do it for the iPhone and we will see if it is compatible later.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DAldredge (2353)
          "5. the iTunes compatibility thing. That was rather unethical business by palm in the first place to in essence hack the phone to make it look like an iPod"

          You mean like COMPAQ did to IBM PC BIOS?

        • While sure there "were" apps, they were all crap and free. They didn't even have a proper billing system in place. Hell, it came out WITHOUT any native code or 3D support. Why the hell have a phone with a 3D chip and NOT be able to use it.

          The idea that you could build apps out of AJAX is all well and good, but it blows for performance apps.

          If Palm released the phone with the software as it is NOW, then they would of had a killer. Instead they dragged their feet on the API and development tools.

          Kind of r

        • by LurkerXXX (667952)
          There is no virtualbox that runs on top of linux. You are thinking of Android. WebOS was designed just that way, as WEB OS. The only apps originally ran in the browser. They were HTML and javascript. That's it. Since then, they have released native APIs. Once again, no virtualization.
        • by Tokerat (150341)

          I've never had a problem with the Emulator. Just press ESC for the back gesture. Would be nice if you could test the other physical buttons (some [palm.com] are emulated) and gestures, though.

          Besides, you should always be testing on actual hardware as well as the emulator ;-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hitmark (640295)

        mostly the choice of CDMA2000 as the connection system. And maybe tying it to a US carrier at first launch.

        this btw, is something is think more and more companies will burn themselves on trying to emulate the original iphone launch without considering that the US (and to a lesser degree the world) market have changed.

        just observe what dell is trying to do with their mini 5, or google with the nexus one. Basically, they are trying to negotiate exclusivity agreements with one or more carrier, rather then just

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There's a reason why they're carrier exclusive -- the carriers agree to spend $50-$100+ million on advertising in exchange for being exclusive for 6-12 months. For a company like Palm with only $400 million in cash to cover all expenses, it's not something you can easily ignore.

          The downside is that the carrier decides the marketing campaign, and it's not always a good one. The Verizon Palm Pre Plus "mom" ads may have even *hurt* sales.

      • WebOS hasn't failed. It's circling the drain, with hope of being fished out. As much as I'll shill and fanboy over the iPhone, WebOS IS a decent phone OS. I'd just rather have my iPhone.

      • by log0n (18224)

        Yes. WebOS is by far the best mobile platform out there. It isn't quite feature complete to compete with BB or Android, but the foundation is rock solid with real room to expand, not just tack features on.

        And yep, the hardware was crap. Not the specs, the actual construction. I went through 3 Pres (only 2 died on me, the 1st broke when it was being activated) in 3 months.

        (basically a 'me too' post.. but if anyone wanted to know exactly why..)

        • by paganizer (566360)

          I think the "Crap hardware" is the thing that is possibly freaking me out the most.
          This is PALM for Lughs sake. What possible excuse could they have for making crap hardware?

          Longish post warning...

          Palm. The worlds greatest PDA maker. I was going to quote various Wikipedia articles, but you would have to be living under a rock or be in middle school to NOT understand what Palm really represents.

          Ever since the big media storm about the iPad came out, the cognitive dissonance has been incredible; Take a CA 200

      • Actually webOS kinda sucks. It's sluggish; not enough that if you use it for a few minutes you notice much, but after a few days of owning it, it gets on your nerves. I can't wait to get rid of my Pre when the HTC Evo comes out.

        • by Tokerat (150341)

          Put the 800mhz patch on your Pre and tell me how sluggish it feels then. webOS is not the problem, the Pre is the problem.

          • by bhtooefr (649901)

            Myself, I'm used to a Touch Pro running MightyROM (a WinMo 6.5 build,) the Pre that I had felt *FAST* compared to the Touch Pro.

            But, comparing the Pre to the Droid and N900 would be a good idea, they've got the same CPU. ;)

          • The reality is that BOTH are the problem. The product should have been designed with matching software and hardware (i.e. if webOS needs faster hardware, it should've had it; or it should've been optimized better for the hardware it does have). But I say in this case it's more webOS's fault because other mobile platforms with similar functionality (iPhone, Droid) work just fine on a similarly powered CPU.

            By the way I tried using patches, but I didn't realize you needed to uninstall them all before an OS u

    • by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @01:02PM (#31882426) Journal

      Palm didn't do the Treos, either. Those came from Handspring, which they acquired almost a decade ago.

    • that's funny cause i think the treo's OS sucks and the webOS is great. i feel like many share this opinion, not yours o.O

    • I still have my old Palm Pilot III complete with dial-up modem. The dial-up modem was probably one of the most useless add-ons but for the few times I did use it I was glad to have it.
  • by tivoKlr (659818) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @12:49PM (#31882370) Journal
    So Palm offers 250k in stock, over 2 yrs for the other principal management to stay. Not the most convincing of offers, and what's that Palm stock going to be worth in 2 years? Anything?

    Bye bye Palm. It's been nice knowin' ya.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know man, the stock could come back and everybody would be millionaires. Like 1999 all over again. I'm still holding on to the LNUX I bought at $242/share.

      That shits gonna come back man. Servers with Linux on them? Thats a no brainer huge win just like phones with WebOS. To be fair LNUX no longer does servers with Linux on them but still.

    • by blaster (24183)

      Not that it really changes your point much, but they were given a 250K cash bonus AND a stock grant.

    • by RobFrontier (550029) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @03:05PM (#31883032)
      I can only assume by your comment that you don't follow markets in general, or Palm specifically. Palm is more than likely going to be purchased fairly soon which will increase the stock price dramatically before the purchase. HTC seems like a natural fit, though the most interesting idea I've heard is RIM. It would be nice if Blackberry's came with an actual OS. WebOS is the best mobile OS available, with Android a close second, so there is plenty of value there. Palm also hold a lot of valuable IP and Patents.
      • by tivoKlr (659818)

        You sir, assume correctly. I do not deny my ignorance of markets and so on...

      • by Tokerat (150341)

        If any mobile phone manufacturer buys Palm, you can kiss everything goodbye except the patent portfolio. Toss webOS up on the shelf with BeOS and OS/2, in the archive of great OSes screwed up by everything else around them.

      • by teshuvah (831969)

        WebOS is the best mobile OS available, with Android a close second, so there is plenty of value there. Palm also hold a lot of valuable IP and Patents.

        Wow, got blinders? Good job ignoring the 800 pound Apple shaped gorilla in the room. You know, the company that actually makes the best OS and the best hardware, which is backed up by their sales figures, and people actually want and buy it. There are tons of Android phones on the market and they can't even compete with a single Apple phone with regards to marketshare?

  • by c.r.o.c.o (123083) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @02:03PM (#31882668)

    I started with the Palm Pilot 5000, and over the past 10 years I've never been without a Palm OS PDA. Just to prove that I am as familiar with Palm OS devices, here's a short list of the ones I've owned for at least a few months at a time: Palm Pilot 5000, Palm Vx, Clie SJ30, Palm m505, four Palm TX, Clie NR70, two Clie NX70 and three Clie TH55. The reason there are so many duplicates on the list is because I was buying and selling them at a small profit.

    For the most part the hardware was reliable, but the ONLY devices to completely fail on me were the Palm ones. The battery died on my Vx, and replacing it was impossible without butchering it (disassembly instructions involved using a heat gun to melt the glue) or spending a lot of money to have it replaced by Palm with a refurbished unit. The touch screen on one TX stopped responding, and another TX stopped charging. Every Clie I've ever owned on the other hand was still running, no matter how abused it was. I bought a Clie NX73 off Ebay, and when it arrived, the hinge was completely worn out, the casing was beaten up everywhere, the screen was scratched BUT it was working perfectly. In terms of features the Clies were also far ahead of any Palm device. They had high resolution color screens, memory card slots, wifi, BT before anything from Palm, and they had MUCH better build quality and materials to boot.

    When Palm announced the Pre I was really excited, because WebOS looked amazing and the hardware had great specs. Backwards compatibility with PalmOS apps was also a HUGE bonus. But the anticipation lasted precisely until I got to actually hold a Pre in my hand. I absolutely, positively hated it! The shiny plastic shell was cheap and scratch prone (just like the TX). The sliding keyboard was awkward, cramped and had a raised lip around it that feelt unfinished. Overall the Pre was a big disappointment. Not a bad device, but worth half what Palm was charging for it.

    At this point I was really hoping someone will license the WebOS and design a GOOD smartphone to run it. That never happened and probably never will, since all manufacturers went with Android. In the meantime I picked up a Nokia N900 and I'm not sorry I did. I can still run my PalmOS apps through Garnett, and having a full Linux computer at my fingertips is simply amazing.

    So that's my take on it. :)

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Who knows, perhaps the manufacturer of the group you rather like, Sony, might be still the last hope ;). Sony Ericcson seems a bit undecided where to, launching new WinMob, Symbian and Android devices. Throwing WebOS to such bunch wouldn't seem to be that much of an overkill, I guess ;). One can even imagine they're the ones to whom Palm will get sold...

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      I have had several Palms since the early pilot days, and have had just the opposite results, NONE have failed. I stopped with palm products with a T/X and eventually switched over to a blackberry due to work compatibility. Now its an iphone since i was able to ditch that evil BB.

      Still love the T/X but it pretty much is what it is, nothing new will come down the pike for it ( oh, and the missing microphone what were they thinking?!?! ) so it was time to move forward. ( thus the apple product )

      • by c.r.o.c.o (123083)

        I have had several Palms since the early pilot days, and have had just the opposite results, NONE have failed. I stopped with palm products with a T/X and eventually switched over to a blackberry due to work compatibility. Now its an iphone since i was able to ditch that evil BB.

        Still love the T/X but it pretty much is what it is, nothing new will come down the pike for it ( oh, and the missing microphone what were they thinking?!?! ) so it was time to move forward. ( thus the apple product )

        My experience i

    • I have an Palm M500 and the sucker works to this day (even the original battery!) I have a metal exterior case for it, but I've dropped that thing, stepped on it, spilled stuff on it and it continues to work like a champ. I've never bought a replacement PDA because it still does what I need it to do. In fact, I still use the Palm Desktop software, because in my estimation, it's the perfect day planner/address book.

      Not sure what their current hardware is like, but my m500 owes me no favours given how bad

  • Seriously, their past decade has been nothing but fail - uninspired me too phones, horrible battery life, and totally missing the smartphone boat through lack of vision despite having the killer device factor (m500. m505) and OS model more than a decade ago.

    What executive or consultant realistically thought the Pre was any competition for the iPhone? What market were they trying to target?

    Or better yet, where do I get one of those consultancy jobs?

  • ha! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by charliemopps11 (1606697) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @02:14PM (#31882722)
    I used to work for Palm about 8 or 9 years ago. I was one of their higher level tech support agents and had direct contact with their software engineers. Their corporate people, like Mr Abott were a joke. The real programmers we all in Asia as well as all their hardware manufacturing. They just had a corporate staff in the US... they all had their heads so far up their butts that Palm was never going to go anywhere. They started the market, and could have come up with an iPhone/Blackberry like device years before anyone else did. That's what their customers were screaming for... that's what we kept telling them. But they wanted a more closed OS and had little interest in allowing any really interesting apps unless the developer was working in direct partnership with them. Their OS updates were, for the most part, not backwards compatible. Lots of software would work on one model but not another even though they had the same OS on them. It was all just silly. I'm really surprised it took this long for them to tank.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chysn (898420)

      I used to work for Palm about 8 or 9 years ago. I was one of their higher level tech support agents and had direct contact with their software engineers. Their corporate people, like Mr Abott were a joke.

      You supposedly worked at Palm way before Abbott started there in 2008. How do you know he's a joke?

      Seems like an unfair assessment, is all I'm saying. I opted for the Hero over the Pre this year, but WebOS is a pretty damn slick bit of work.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        I was referring to their corporate leadership, which I doubt has changed much over the years. Especially given their current state.
  • I think I need more coffee - when the title caught my eye, I honestly thought it said "Palin's Software Chief Quits". I had a few seconds of confusion where I tried to think of a reason Sarah would have a software chief. Worse still, I kept seeing "Palin" through the first part of the summary.

    Funny thing is, if you replace "Palm" with "Palin", some peoples' comments here are still strangely relevant...

  • That way they will stop having good phones is absolutely abysmal sofware. It isn't even limited to their smartphones - their flip/slide phones are buggy as hell too.

    It's a shame really... Samsung phones are some of best phones physically, but their software can really use a boost. WebOS on the original Instinct might have actually produced a decent phone.
  • .NET and biochemist (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NuShrike (561140) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @03:45PM (#31883246)

    Anybody notice that Abbot was formerly the general manager for .NET online services @ Microsoft before webOS?
    http://www.neowin.net/news/palm039s-head-of-software-resigns?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+neowin-forum+(Neowin.net+Forums) [neowin.net]

    Seems to be a biochemist by education too:
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelabbott [linkedin.com]

    So not sure if his leaving is a huge loss for Palm. May be just cutting the fat.

    • Having worked with Mike before, I'm going to guess this isn't the case. He's an incredibly talented software engineer and has a good head for business as well. More likely, he saw that the ship was sinking and decided to get off.
      • by NuShrike (561140)

        That's fair then, and an incredible loss for Palm. I apologize for any negativity.

      • by NuShrike (561140)

        Along this route, fat to the company execs isn't always fat to engineering, especially in a merger where highly paid == expendable no matter how irreplaceable.

        I've seen the side where corps will let go of core people because they're considered trouble-makers even though it's this exact personality that builds and expands the company technically.

  • Making a good phone isn't rocket science. Give it the same form factor as the MyTouch/iPhone, and then give it:

    A) Good battery life
    B) Good call quality
    C) A front facing camera

    And why not use the free and excellent Android Operating System, and then put money into some really killer apps, rather than duplicating effort trying to reinvent the wheel with YET ANOTHER phone OS? I'd like to see a Skype alternative that worked on free and open codecs like speex and theora, in particular. If I had that on a phon

    • by teg (97890)

      A front facing camera

      How are you going to use it? Many phones have had front facing cameras, but video calls from cell phones have been a complete failure so far... and I guess one of the reasons is that holding the phone half a meter in front of you is awkward, plus you can't see the one you're calling then.

      • by crhylove (205956)

        I'm sure these are difficulties that could be easily overcome with a minimum of R&D budget.

    • by vbraga (228124)

      Do you really believe that fitting all your requirements in a sub-100 phone isn't a difficult task?

    • A front facing camera is good for one specific task (which - to date - hasn't had a good working implementation). For all other usages of a camera (you know -- taking pictures) front-facing is useless. Ever try to use an LCD viewfinder that you couldn't see?
      • by crhylove (205956)

        For the price of a little CCD, I didn't presume to suggest you do away with the rear camera. I was merely suggesting that you could ADD one to the front, under the glass of the screen..

    • by mjwx (966435)

      C) A front facing camera

      Your spelling seems to be a bit off, perhaps you meant "solid hardware" or "2100/900 HSPA" because these are features I'd look for long before a front facing camera. The market for front facing camera's is tiny and most people would rather it would work on the two most prolific mobile frequencies.

      • by crhylove (205956)

        Those are features that already exist in phones on the market. I was suggesting those would also be included in the new phone, in addition to a front facing camera.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          Those are features that already exist in phones on the market. I was suggesting those would also be included in the new phone, in addition to a front facing camera.

          Fair enough,

          Try looking at phones marketed in Aisa, this is the only place I've seen that has any kind of a market for video calls. The only phone I've seen in Australia with a forward facing camera is the Nokia 6120 Classic, which has not got the screen for video calling.

  • I think there is a bit of "not dead yet" for Palm. Things do look pretty dismal for them right now, but I really want for them to pull through. WebOS is vastly more open than the iPhone's OS, and the HW is pretty decent. WebOS is a truly great phone OS.

  • 1) Crappy Hardware. They countered this with even crappier?

    2) Too slow getting real development kit out. The App store is a huge advantage for Apple, and Android is closing fast.

    3) Lame marketing from TV ads to Sprint exclusivity.

    4) Sending another companies USB identifier from your device, and then whining about it to the USB consortium. And they expected what to happen?

    Jon may be great at software, but a great CEO he is not.

  • I'm sorry but I just can't buy another product from Palm.

    The TX has some pretty good hardware but there hasn't been any kind of software update or improvement in features since it was released.

  • In fact, now that I think about it, if they made a WebOS upgrade for all existing Palm OS devices (that could run it) the adoption would be huge.

    Not only would it signal to customers that yes, Palm will support its hardware into the future, but it would also give developers a huge base to sell applications too.

  • Sad... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Illogical Spock (1058270) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @08:18PM (#31884508)
    The sad thing is that Palm TX (a 5-yr-old product) can do more than the majority of today's phones, and specially iPhone. I still have mine working, and I can watch DIVX videos (I can just copy the full 700mb video to the memory card and play there without hiccups), play MP3, run any J2ME program using an emulator, etc, etc. And I can, for example, listen to music while I do other tasks. It have Bluetooth, WIFI, and with a downloaded software I have a very neat interface (the original one is ugly in today's terms). Yes, I know that the processor is slower than today's, that the battery autonomy is very short, etc, but it's a 5 YR OLD product.

    My point is: Palm could be one of the big players today, if they haven't stopped in time. They were almost alone for too long in the market, and forgot how to evolve. This is why I admire Google: they are the top of the top in several things, but still they keep evolving, adding funcionalities that we didn't think of in GMail for example, way before someone else's do.

    Like the first poster said: Palm today is nostalgia. And this is from someone who loves Palm...
    • by karnal (22275)

      I used to love Palm.

      The TX pretty much ruined me on it. I really used to pine over the Sony CLIE devices, and thought when Palm brought out the TX that it would be one of the best new handhelds ever.

      I used it for a bit after my wife bought it for me for Christmas the first year they were out. Fast forward a few months later, and the power button stopped working. Meh, no biggie, ship it back to Palm (paid for shipping) and repaired. Next, the screen started to whine. Sent in to Palm twice for this, paid

  • What bugs me most is that I'm on my third Tungsten|E2 and it's already older than the previous two and I need to be ready when it fails, but I haven't found anything to replace it.

    I was among the first buyers of the original USR Palm Pilot and I've been using the Palm Desktop and Palm (or Handspring) devices ever since. That's a big investment. The PDA and Desktop are loaded with information, Cloak (er--Turbo Passwords) manages my passwords, and I can write graffiti as fast as I can write on paper. I shudde

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