Palm: It’s A Hardware Company Now

Those of you who have been following my personal tech journey via know that I have been a HUGE Palm fan for many years. I loved how simple it was compared to Microsoft Pocket PC amongst other things.
Recently I switched to Microsoft Pocket PC by buying a Dell Axim 50. Well soon (possibly today) Palm will launch a Treo powered by Microsoft’s Pocket PC. This is VERY significant for you to keep in mind as you explore mobile computing.
The “Palm” battle is no longer about Palm and Microsoft operating systems. Palm is a hardware vendor, just like Dell, HP, Apple and is no longer tied to selling Palm hardware tied to a Palm Operating System. Sure many of Palm’s existing devices will have the Palm OS but expect more Palm devices to be MSFT PPC powered.
Since Palm Source has been sold to Japanese company ACCESS earlier this month Palm is no longer tied to selling Palm as its operating system.
My guess is that as Microsoft has dominated the desktop OS space, it will dominate the mobile computing space to a very large degree.
Business Week writes FOR PALM THE ACCESS DEAL is the least objectionable outcome since it prevented Palm OS from falling into the hands of a competitor. Palm is not likely to shift away from Palm OS as the software behind its Zire, Tungsten, and LifeDrive PDA models. But the market for these nonphone handhelds has been declining for several years as wireless handsets take up more of their functions. And with the acquisition of PalmSource now off the table, Palm can be agnostic about its software choices.
Although I have long been a Palm fan, I have to concede that Microsoft software increasingly makes sense for a converged device like the Treo. The first Pocket PC Phone Editions, which came out three years ago, were ghastly, but the hardware and software have steadily improved. I tried a Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ) iPAQ HW6500, due this fall from Cingular Wireless, and it was nearly as good as a Treo 650, both as a phone and for e-mail — and it uses an older version of the Windows Mobile software. HP used a Treo-like square display instead of the elongated ones used in other Pocket PCs. This left room for a built-in keyboard while keeping the device compact and not too top-heavy for typing. Between the improved software and Palm’s Treo design experience, the Windows Treo, expected to hit the market early next year, should at last be as good as the Palm OS-based Treo 650.

Read the full Business Week article here