PalmSource Targets Smartphones
Feb 16, 2004
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PalmSource, a developer of operating systems for hand-held computers, is shifting gears as the market for so-called smartphones grows and the one for simpler personal digital assistants (PDAs) shrinks.

The company's new strategy, to focus more on devices that handle both voice and data communications -- as rivals Nokia and Microsoft have already done -- was unveiled at its developer conference in San Jose, CA, U.S.

"We've been a player in this space for a long time, and we're making it official now that it's a key market for us," PalmSource CEO Dave Nagel said. "We're going to go after it with every weapon that we have."

The company makes the Palm operating system and licenses it to makers of digital assistants and their smartphone cousins, which combine computing and cell phone functions.

PalmSource was spun off last October from the hardware division that makes Palm-branded devices, now called palmOne.

PalmSource's approach would be to stop development of an older operating system as it moved on to an upgrade.

But now, PalmSource says it will adopt a "dual-version strategy," developing a new operating system aimed for the smartphone market while keeping the older Palm operating system -- previously known as Palm OS 5 and being renamed this week as Palm Garnet -- available for other gadgets.

"Two versions of the same platform will allow us to go after a broader swath of the market than we could do with either, alone," Mr. Nagel said.

Palm's newest operating system, called Cobalt, which recently began shipping to device manufacturers, already includes major upgrades for multitasking and security, but will be further improved with telephone features, Mr Nagel said.

PalmSource cannot afford to let the growing smartphone market slip by, analysts say. Sales of hand-held computers without phone functions slipped 18 percent in 2003, according to market research firm IDC.

Smartphone licensees signed on with PalmSource include palmOne's Treo line, Samsung, and Kyocera. (Associated Press)

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