Would The Next Motorola Please Stand Up


… in which I am defensive and somewhat sentimental.

So, Palm’s “Treo Pro” came out today. It’s got a square 320×320 screen, it runs… well, windows-mobile-something and… Jeebus.

A little while ago in another forum I was chided as follows:

Also, I would like to say “NEENER NEENER” to one Mike Hoye. Because five years ago, I said: “Microsoft’s already beaten Palm, and the question now is whether Linux can mount an effective handheld challenge. … In five years, the competition in your hand is going to be the same as it is in your server room: Windows and .NET versus Linux and Java.”

And he was all: “Palm’s going to be fine. … I think Palm’s going to end up like Apple – the BMW of their product niche.” It turns out Apple is going to be the Apple of phones, but Palm was dead long before Apple took that niche.

So, in my defense, I kind of expected Palm to take some action that wasn’t roll over and play dead. Their flagship product has same screen resolution as the Tungsten models that shipped in 2003 and a bunch of nothing else to recommend it. I had a glimmer of hope when they teased us with the Foleo, but then they choked on the shot, and about twenty minutes later Asus released the EeePC and the market-segment pile-on was well underway.

Their announcement at the time, almost exactly a year ago, said that they “decided to cancel the Foleo mobile companion product in its current configuration and focus all of our energies on delivering our next generation platform”, whose development started in early 2004 (within months of when I made my claim! Yay?) and whose release has now been pushed back to early 2009 (Five years later. Boo), and in the meantime they’ve just been cranking out the same goddamn device, over and over again, in a slightly different plastic box, and now they don’t even ship with the only differentiator Palm has left, PalmOS.

Well, so much for that. Honestly, they might as well just start shipping these.


  1. Posted September 26, 2008 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    But see, here’s the thing: PalmOS was technically unsuitable for future usage. It was built around processors that made 386s look powerful and which had kilobytes of memory. You can’t scale that up to today’s modern phones any more than you could have scaled MS-DOS or MACOS 7 up to modern computers.

    So Palm had the choice between writing a new OS from scratch — no trivial endeavour — or using UBUNTU/WinMo the same as everyone else. They tried the former and ended up with the latter.

  2. Posted September 26, 2008 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Also, it’s sort of creepy how closely Android really is “Linux and Java.”

  3. Mike Hoye
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, add the word “…script” there and you’re done.

  4. Mike Hoye
    Posted September 26, 2008 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    But, you know, that seems silly to me. Windows CE wasn’t built and then pared down to size, and all modern OSes started life on piggly little platforms that couldn’t do shit. Palm could have, _should_ have chosen to grow their OS with the times, (like _all the others_ did) and they plain old didn’t.

  5. Posted September 26, 2008 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    But WinMo was built for hardware that was vastly higher-end than the Palm stuff. Remember, it was considered “bloated” (which is always code for “best utilized on higher-end hardware”) for many years when Palm was already peaking.

    And UBUNTU, of course, was born on 386s.

    (As for Android, no, regular, -script-less Java.)