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Another Palm OS Developer Giving Away Software: A Developing Trend?

Fri May 2, 2008 - 1:34 PM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell


Looks like another Palm OS developer has gone freeware. Ellams Software has been around for awhile with games like Air Hockey 3D, Agent Z and Jetman Jack. And of course Snowballer too!

Now all of Ellams Software is completely Free. There is a note near the top of the page in which the developer asks for donations if you enjoy the games.

I counted 16 games in all, so that's a lot of Free games. I do hope that many will donate though. You can download the games at the Ellams Software website.

We seem to be seeing a sort of trend here with the Palm OS software going for free lately. Last month Dan reported on Dmitry Grinberg of PalmPowerups fame, saying a farewell after 5 years in programming as his last Palm OS project is SDHC driver. Grinberg is now giving away his SkinUI program for free.

Last week I reported on PDAmill Game Studios giving away Palm OS games for Free. PDAmills stopped developing for the Palm OS platform in February of 2007 and their products were discontinued. Due to the high demand, they've released all their past Palm titles for free. Now let me tell ya, these are some really nice games they're giving away. I'm talking about quality graphics here. Very nice! As I mentioned in my article, I downloaded GameBox Asia on my Treo 680 and I'm loving it!

Back in February I reported on an article by Michael Mace of Mobile Opportunity in which Mace talked about the decline of the mobile software industry. Mace said that the level of developer activity and creativity that we saw in the glory days of Palm OS hasn't reappeared on any mobile platform since.

In fact, as the market shifted from handhelds to smartphones, the situation for mobile app developers has become substantially worse.

This past Wednesday James Martin over at PC World wrote an interesting article entitled "Is the Palm OS Dying? Should You Care?". Martin said that when recently talking to an executive at a smart phone software developer, he asked why the company hadn't released any new versions of its software for the Palm OS when it had released new versions for Windows Mobile Smartphones and RIM BlackBerrys. Martin said that the executive replied, matter-of-factly:

It's a dying platform.

Martin, who has been a Palm loyalist since 1997, said that his Palm devices have been easy to use, reliable and sturdy. But he has mixed feelings because his Treo hasn't been looking the greatest of late compared to the iPhone and other devices. He's even had an urge to stray from his Treo. But he goes on to list four reasons why Palm OS smartphones are still worth owning.

  1. The Treo Touch Screen Isn't Too 'Touchy'
  2. Palms Come Fully Loaded
  3. There are Beaucoup Third-Party Applications
  4. The Keyboards Are Actually Usable

He also lists some features lacking on Treos and Centros that other smartphones offer. Of course Built-in Wi-Fi is at the top of that list. You can read the full article here.

The Official Palm Blog wrote about Martin's article this week as they found it interesting as well, calling it "a well-balanced and comprehensive look at the Palm OS in today's landscape". And I agree.

So, is the Palm OS dying? Well, it's alive now as there are still so many apps out there available for it, and Centros are selling like hotcakes. Palm doesn't seem to be planning to make anymore stand-alone PDA's as far as I know. And I don't think they're planning to make anymore Palm OS Treos. Their next platform will be a Palm OS built on top of a Linux kernel, the Nova as we call it around here.

Will our Palm OS apps be compatible on Palm's upcoming new platform? There are already discussions going on about this in our TreoCentral forums. Forum member zelgo started a thread entitled "Will you buy the Linux Treo if you can't use old programs?", and he asked:

Most of us who have been with Treo for years have also bought lots of 3rd party programs. I'm assuming that, with the upcoming Linux-based Treo, these old 3rd party applications will no longer work.
Many of us, who have stuck with Treo mainly because we bought so many of these applications, will use this opportunity to bolt and try another smart phone.
What will you do?

Forum member johncc responded:

I expect that I will be able to use PalmOS programs via some sort of emulation.

Forum member fishera added:

It would be a problem that would hold me back, sure.
I spent a good amount on Palm OS software back when I had my 600 and one of the main reasons I haven't made a jump to another other platform remains I have invested a lot of money on apps. Up until today I am purchasing new ones.
Obviously I won't wanna run my old OS Garnet apps on a shiny new Treo with a new OS... but if somehow all the developers had free or discounted upgrades for new versions. When Apple switched from PowerPC to Intel, most developers just upgraded their current apps, very few actually released entire new boxed versions.

Very interesting thread. I hadn't even thought about whether or not our current Palm OS software will work on the new platform. That's a very good question. Go check it out and be sure to chime in and add your thoughts.

You might also want to check out the thread, "Give me some reasons to stay with Palm".

I will definitely stay with Palm. Not to beat an old phrase to death, but "It just works". I love the simplictiy of the Palm OS. I've got a crapload of Palm apps on a crapload of Palm devices, and I plan to keep them all running until they just won't go anymore. I recently got a Nokia N810 which I love and still drool over when turning it on. This is the first Linux device I've ever owned. I'm pretty impressed with it so far. I really look forward to seeing what the upcoming Palm/Linux platform will bring to us.

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