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Palm Developing New Linux Powered PalmOS

Tue Apr 10, 2007 - 9:10 AM EDT - By Dieter Bohn, Jennifer Chappell


More as it develops, but the big story so far from Palm's Investor Day today is that Palm has been working on a new version of the PalmOS that is based on a Linux kernel. Details are still very scant, but so far we know the following:

  • PalmOS 5 devices (currently the latest version) will still be released later this year
  • Devices based on the Linux kernel should be released by the end of the year.
  • The OS is separate from the Access Linux Platform, it is Palm's own homegrown OS.
  • Palm will not license the OS to other manufacturers
  • It is highly likely that the new OS will use Opera as its default browser, given the recent agreement between Palm and Opera.

As can be seen by the graphic below, Palm seems to intend that the Linux-based PalmOS will maintain some backward compatibility (i.e. "Commitment to the Palm OS Commmunity"). It seems clear that Palm has no desire to license Access's mobile OS, but prefers to develop their own to leverage the long experience in creating software with great usability. This PalmOS will be separate from Access' OS. Furthermore, Colligan made it clear that Palm has no intention of licensing the new OS to other hardware manufacturers.

Colligan also pointed out that Palm recently acquired Chatteremail, a great PalmOS email client. Also of note is that Palm has recently entered into an agreement with Opera to use their browser on "future Palm products." In other words, it seems likely that Palm will not even be using Access's browser, Netfront, which has been the basis for Blazer.

Palm intends to have future PalmOS devices fully support not only mulitasking (hooray!) but also simultaneous voice and data.

"The right thing to do when you're surfing is to be in the right spot when the big wave comes," said Colligan. "We're lining ourselves up to catch that wave."

Update: Palm also emphasized their strong patent position, noting that they currently have bee issued over 270 patents and also have 370 pending patents. Palm has increased the number of patents they've applied for every year. They want to use these patents to increase their differentiation in the market, so that the oft-cited "Zen of Palm" will stay Palm-only.

Palm also has been changing their internal methods for developing devices. They're now developing hardware platforms that can be used with either PalmOS or Windows Mobile, speeding up development time. Palm expects this new method will result in much more device releases in the coming years. They've also added engineering centers in Ireland, Taiwan, and China in addition to their California centers.

More details as we receive them. Head on over to our forum to discuss this story. Here is the other relevant slide from Palm's presentation.

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