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Palm's next-gen OS Nova is set to debut at CES 2009

It wasn't so long ago that Palm was one of the biggest companies in the smartphone and PDA market. When the traditional PDA died out as one of the hot gadgets to have, Palm took a few blows to the head. When other companies jumped into the smartphone market with products superior to Palm, it took even more blows.

Today Palm is seeing its profits shrink and its products lose popularity to newcomers like the Apple iPhone, which now holds over 16% of the smartphone market. Palm hasn’t given up and has announced that its big news for CES 2009 will be a new operating system it calls Nova.

To turn its ailing business around, Palm reached out to Apple veteran Jon Rubinstein in mid-2007. BusinessWeek reports that after talking with Palm executives Rubinstein agreed to become Palm's executive chairman in charge of product development.

Under his watch, Palm began to grow its engineering prowess and work on a next generation operating system that in Palm's words aimed for the fat middle of the smartphone market. Palm says that its goal with Nova is to bridge the gap between devices like the BlackBerry that are aimed at providing communication in the form of email, voice and text messaging for business users with the entertainment oriented features of the Apple iPhone.

Palm feels that there is a significant market that has needs in between what the BlackBerry and iPhone can offer that isn’t being addressed and it plans to meet the needs of these users with Nova. Palm's Ed Colligan told BusinessWeek, "People's work and personal lives are melding."

Little is known about Nova at this point with the veil of secrecy that Palm was wrapped around its operating system. What is known is that Palm doesn’t want to get into a slugging match with either BlackBerry or Apple with Nova. What Palm wants is an operating system that is flexible and supports a wide range of digital consumers.

Palm feels that the closest device to meeting the needs of the group of users Nova targets is the iPhone, but the glut of features the iPhone offers means batteries are depleted quickly. Some inside Palm believe that Nova-powered devices could ultimately grab the company 2% of the smartphone market, a number that Palm would be happy with. Palm's last new handset, the Treo Pro, failed to make a real impact on the market.

Some sources say that Nova is an attempt to make an operating system that is smarter about you. An example of what Nova may be able to do, according to these sources, is look at your calendar and see you have a trip planned. Then the day before the trip automatically send you a message with things like weather conditions at the location.

Many wonder if the smartphone market will welcome an additional operating system to the fold. Developers are already running full-tilt to produce Apps for the iPhone along with programs for the BlackBerry and Google's new Android devices.

One developer named Jeff Holden with Pelago, a company building applications for the iPhone told BusinessWeek, "If they can't show me a large, active audience, I'm not going to be interested. At this point in the game, you're toast unless you have something completely unbelievable."

The smartphone world will have to wait until CES in a few weeks to see if Nova is unbelievable or if Palm will quickly disappear under the force of better competition.

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RE: About time
By Diesel Donkey on 12/15/2008 3:02:46 PM , Rating: 2
Are you calling the Palm OS stable? I love my Treo 650 to death, but it does reset about once or twice a week. I haven't used any Win Mobile devices for any length of time, but are they really worse than that?

RE: About time
By lifeblood on 12/15/2008 4:28:37 PM , Rating: 2
Palm OS is more stable than others. However, you can have two identical phones and one can be very stable while the other is constantly freezing or rebooting. I know a few people who bought smartphones from both AT&T and Verizon who had to keep returning them until they got one that worked reliably. Admittedly modern smartphones pack a whole lot of functionality into a small package, but QA really seems to be poor with smartphones in general.

Hopefully the new OS will run all the old apps that were written for Palm OS. Their are a ton of really nice apps for free out there.

RE: About time
By retrospooty on 12/15/2008 4:35:55 PM , Rating: 3
Palm OS is stable, Treo 650 is problematic. Try a Treo 755p or a Centro... You wont have the problems.

As for Wireless/802.11 - the Palm OS cant do cellular and 802.11 on the same device, the new OS absolutely will. The question is how will the new OS stack up against winmobile nad Google Android.

RE: About time
By Diesel Donkey on 12/16/2008 4:52:16 AM , Rating: 2
I would love to have a Treo 755p just for its EVDO capability, but given its price tag I can't justify it right now. I'm curious to know if the OS revision on the newer phones is slightly different or if it's simply the hardware differences that account for fewer stability problems on the 755p/Centro.

802.11 support would be amazing (and overdue, of course). I have some high hopes for Android, but only if it doesn't become too closely integrated with Gmail, etc. Hopefully "open" really means open, though I guess maybe that's in the hands of the developers.

RE: About time
By androticus on 12/15/2008 8:23:01 PM , Rating: 3
I love my Treo 650 to death, but it does reset about once or twice a week.

Hey, call your phone customer support and verify they have the right phone programmed into their system! I was experiencing frequent resets on my Treo 650 and when I phoned customer support, they discovered they hadn't set it up properly since I had switched phones; when they changed it to the proper phone type, my resetting problems vanished. I've had it for several years, and it works great -- resets maybe once every few months at the most.

RE: About time
By VTHokie on 12/17/2008 2:09:49 PM , Rating: 2
The Treo 650 w/ Palm OS had a lot problems due to the OS being updated on the Sprint network. When I first got my Treo 650 I had no problems with it the first year. When I upgraded my OS to the latest version, my phone would lockup where it wouldn't let me unlock the phone. So I would have to pull the battery to do a soft reset to the phone. I would have to do this about twice a day. When the phone was locked up I couldn't receive calls either. I took my phone to a Sprint store and they said they could not fix it so they replace the phone under my insurance.

The next phone I got had the exact same problem and I noticed the OS was the same version that I had a problem before. I went back to the store I told them I had the same problem and they said they would replace it again. This time just to confirm it was the OS I didn't reload any of my information or programs into the phone. Again the same problems occurs with in 24 hrs. I did some research and found that other where having similar problem and that there was no way to roll back to a previous OS. I think I had my phone replaced 5 times total before one day I just bought a new phone.

Later on I came across this Class Action Lawsuit.

Palm broke their phone with a bad OS update and refused to fix it and even denied they had a bad OS update. After going through that hassle, I won't ever buy a Palm product again. It pretty bad when a phone can not do its basic function of making and receiving calls without a battery reset every few hours.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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