PalmSource Claims Smartphone Leadership (Again)
By Eric Lin, Thu May 20 21:30:00 GMT 2004

After years of being firmly entrenched as the OS leader for a "two-device solution," it seems PalmSource is trying to re-invent itself as a smartphone OS provider -- long after Symbian, Microsoft and even RIM made the switch.


PalmSource CEO David Nagel delivered a confounding address at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium, a 3-day workshop sponsored by Research In Motion. He started off on a high note, touting the increasing numbers of Palm's developer program -- as many as 2000 developers are joining per week, he claims, most in enterprises. All these developers should add to PalmSource's already large software library, something they've bragged about since 2001. Nagel also claimed that 80% of Palm OS devices are used in the corporate environment, even if they're purchased by individuals.

But after Nagel touts their enterprise domination and all their software, especially enterprise applications, eWeek catches his remark that "Those who prefer data-centric devices should buy a BlackBerry. Those who prefer a phone-based solution should opt for Palm." (Link courtesy of Wireless Development Weblog)

Excuse us, Mr. Nagel, but how is say, the PalmOne Treo any more voice-centric than a late model Blackberry or any less data-centric than one? Both have very PDA-like form factors. Both have built-in speakers and microphones as well as thumb keyboards, both screens can display about the same amount of data. The Treo may have a slight dialing advantage, but not enough to call the device "voice-centric." In fact, with all of Nagel's boasting about application developers, and since data-centric Palms outsell both BlackBerries and Palm-based phones, you'd think he would call Palm the data-centric platform of choice.

It's true Nagel was speaking at a BlackBerry conference, and he was compelled to throw RIM a bone. However he successfully demonstrated the BlackBerry Client working on a Palm OS smartphone, which he easily could have parlayed into another plug for the strength of applications running on the Palm platform. He could have easily used this opportunity to reiterate PalmSource's leadership in applications and make the leap to their strength as a data-centric device leader. Why, instead, would he back off and reduce Palm to a voice-centric solution?

Nagel also tried to assert Palm's ease of use, at least in the smartphone space, based on support call figures from Orange UK. According to their figures, Orange has received an average of two calls per Palm user, which is slightly lower than the average per Symbian user and significantly less than Orange's 8 calls per Microsoft user. He neglects to mention that there are significantly fewer Palm phones than Symbian and Microsoft handsets, and that they have been sold for a much shorter period of time.

After this presentation we're not quite sure who Nagel was trying to convince of the inevitability of Palm's dominance -- the attendees or himself.