The rumors have been swirling for a while, but today Palm issued a press release stating that tomorrow Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm (and Handspring) will host a live video webcast to describe a“new category of mobile device.” This will be held just after the official announcement at the D: All Things Digital conference. Unfortunately, the webcast is only open to ‘credentialed media’, plus industry and financial analysts. I’ll have to see if I can view it tomorrow.
Details are sketchy, but the general feeling is that it is going to be something along the lines of an UMPC (Ultra-Mobile PC) or a web tablet like the Nokia N800. It will almost certainly run Linux, as Palm officially announced that they would be delivering a new Linux-based mobile platform later this year, back in April. And it will likely use Opera as a web browser, as Palm also announced a deal with Opera in April. It is also likely to support Palm OS Garnet (the current revision of the OS) applications, as Palm holds a perpetual license to it. (Quick aside: Palm had split into two entities – Palm, the software side, and PalmOne, the hardware side. Palm, and the Palm OS, was acquired by ACCESS. PalmOne acquired the rights to the Palm name, and renamed themselves back to Palm, and acquired the perpetual license from ACCESS for Palm OS to allow them to continue to use and develop it in their products.)
So it is probably Linux-based, with Opera for browsing, and backwards compatibility with existing Garnet applications (which I hope includes SlingPlayer Mobile), and most people seem to expect some kind of tablet form factor. Anything else is really guess-work. Will it have WiFi and/or cellular data connections? Will it support voice connections? How much memory will if have? Is it all solid-state (Flash) or does it have a drive? What kind of memory expansion does it have (if any)? SD? MiniSD?
I’m a long time PalmOS user. I started with a Palm IIIx back in 1998. I eventually moved up to a Handspring Visor Deluxe. and then a Sony Clie NZ-90. I wanted a converged device, but I wasn’t happy with any of the earlier devices. The original Qualcomm/Kyocera pdQ was a brick! It looked pretty much like a Palm IIIx and a cell phone someone had glued together – which was about what it was. The second generation QCP 6035 was a much more polished product, but I was enjoying the Visor’s expandability. The Kyocera 7135 looked like what I’d been waiting for – a slim flip-phone with a color screen. I used to check in regularly with my Verizon store, waiting to get it. Unfortunately, Verizon took forever to support it. And, in the process, the Verizon sales reps I talked to lied to my face a couple of times, which convinced me to dump their service completely. The NZ-90 had come out, so I picked one of those up and switched to AT&T Wireless to get a BlueTooth phone to use with it for data. (On top of everything else, Verizon didn’t offer any BlueTooth phones at the time either. And we’ve come full circle. AT&T Wireless became Cingular, and now it is AT&T again.)
Once I had the NZ-90, with it’s big (for a PDA) 480×320 color screen and built-in keyboard, I couldn’t go back to gray-scale devices like the early Treos. The Treo 600 almost swayed me, but the grainy 160×160 display kept me away. It was the Treo 650 that finally hit the sweet spot for me. The 320×320 display was almost as good as the Clie, and it was everything I needed in one well-designed device. I made the jump and I’ve been very happy with the Treo. This February I made the small jump to the Treo 680, which is a nice improvement on the 650 in most ways. I’ve used other smart-phones, like the Motorola Q and the Treo 700w, but I don’t think they compare to the Palm OS Treos.
So, after all that, I’m very curious to see what Palm is going to announce tomorrow. I’m hoping for something as revolutionary as the original Palm was in its day, or the Treo has been more recently.
I picked this up from Palm Infocenter.