Palm is obvioulsy a company that doesn’t intend to rest on its laurels.
Having bought Be Inc., the maker of handhelds now has an interesting future ahead, although it may be a bit unclear on exactly how that future will shape up.
Now that Be is part of Palm, expect to see the BeOS’ influence extend to the Palm OS as Be personnel join forces with Palm engineers on future versions of the operating systems for handhelds. The goal is to expand the Palm OS platform into broader markets using Be’s multimedia media and Internet expertise, Palm President Carl Yankowski said in a statement.
Jean-Louis Gassee, Be’s founder and CEO, will assist Palm in integrating the technology and talent through a temporary advisory relationship, effective upon closing of the transaction. He’ll report to the Platform Solutions Group Committee of the Palm Board of Directors.
“Be’s focus on developers is a strong complement to our commitment to work with the more than 165,000 Palm OS developers to help make them successful in the Palm economy,” said Yankowski.
On July 24, the company extended its licensing program to include ARM (Advanced RISC Machines) silicon suppliers. Intel and Motorola will produce reference designs, and Texas Instruments will develop a wireless processing platform, optimized to support the Palm OS platform via a development license with Palm. This is all part of the Palm OS Ready Program, which is intended to strengthen the Palm OS licensing strategy in the multimedia and wireless device markets as well as assist licensees in bringing innovative ARM core-based devices to market quicker.
Intel will provide Intel StrongARM and Intel XScale Palm OS Ready solutions, Motorola will provide DragonBall MX1 Palm OS Ready solutions, and TI will provide OMAP platform Palm OS Ready solutions. ARM will work closely with Palm to ensure that the Palm OS migrates smoothly to the ARM architecture and that ARM development tools are optimized to support the Palm OS platform.
StrongARM processors provide solutions for portable communications and consumer electronics devices. The processors, which were jointly developed by
and Digital Equipment Corporation, are now available from Intel.
The DragonBall MX1 provides a Bluetooth-ready applications processor platform. OMAP (Open Multimedia Applications Platform) provides a systems solution for the wireless market by integrating an ARM RISC processor, a TI digital signal processor, and shared memory architecture on the same piece of silicon.
Ironically, Apple, which once had a substantial investment in ARM, has drastically reduced those holdings in recent months. ARM, a British company that develops industry-targeted microchips, produces, low-cost, power-efficient RISC processors, peripherals and system-chip designs to leading international electronics companies. ARM also provides comprehensive support required in developing a complete system. ARM’s microprocessor cores are rapidly becoming the volume RISC standard in such markets as portable communications, hand-held computing, multimedia digital consumer and embedded solutions.
On July 27, Palm announced that its Platform Solutions Group, which develops and licenses the Palm operating system, would be spun off into a wholly owned subsidiary by the end of the year. A committee of the board of directors of Palm, chaired by David Nagel, will oversee the subsidiary’s establishment. An Advisory Council of Palm OS licensees will also be formed to consult on the subsidiary’s objectives and provide a direct channel for communication with the Platform Group.
Under the new structure, the Platform Solutions Group would operate independently from the hardware division. However, it would continue to leverage Palm’s infrastructure and staff services, according to Yankowski. The hope is that the move will “bring greater clarity of mission, better serve licensees and, we believe, increase shareholder value longer term,” he addded.
Already licensing the Palm OS are Handspring, Sony, HandEra, Symbol and Palm’s Solutions Group, and smartphone makers including Kyocera and Samsung. New licensees announced this year are Acer, which plans to take the OS to Chinese-speaking customers in Asia-Pacific, and Garmin, which makes global-positioning satellite products.
In the midst of all the changes, Alan Kessler, general manager of Palm’s Platform Solutions Group, has resigned. Tomorrow is his last day. No word on what he’s planning to do next. Eric Benhamou, chairman of the Palm Board of directors and a member of the Platform Solutions Group Committee of the board, will act as chief executive officer of the Platform Solutions Group until a permanent replacement is named.