LAS VEGAS -- If the chief executive of the newly independent PalmSource Inc. has his way, a new generation of slick-yet-sensible Palm-based devices will usher in an era in which smart handhelds become indispensable to the enterprise.
In his keynote Wednesday at Comdex Las Vegas 2003, David Nagel announced that PalmSource is rebuilding its operating system from the ground up to better support many of the latest wireless networking standards.
Nagle said that the Palm OS 6, code-named Sahara and slated for a late-December release, will enable knowledge workers with ubiquitous mobile connectivity, providing fast, easy access to information.
"IT and business professionals are beginning to discover what mobile devices can do to revolutionize their businesses," Nagel said. He noted that today's handhelds can provide mobile workers with nearly all of the business information that they can access from their desktop computers, helping employees to make decisions faster and be more productive.
Nagel said that, in the near future, the Palm OS will be capable of offering seamless connectivity via Global System for Mobile communication (GSM), code-division multiple access (CDMA), Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technology. The upcoming OS will also include better security features, multimedia capabilities, bandwidth management and compatibility with Microsoft software.
"There's no other desktop [OS] that really matters today," which is why interoperability with Microsoft is essential, Nagel said.
During his address, Nagel also spoke of PalmSource's initiative to make its APIs interoperable. Doing so is necessary, he said, because Palm applications would be able to run on a myriad of devices, easing the application development process.
That interoperability will also provide PalmSource with an advantage over Microsoft's mobile operating systems, which Nagel said lack interoperable APIs. Without such APIs, applications written for one type of device could not be used on another, even if both run the same OS.
During the presentation, attendees were also introduced to two of the latest Palm devices, the Zodiak Capwave, and the Treo 600. Capwave, the first Palm-powered handheld gaming device, uses Bluetooth to enable multi-player gaming. It features Palm's traditional PIM programs, a Motorola microprocessor, ATI graphics card, 320-by-480 screen resolution, and built-in MP3 and video players.
PalmOne Inc. vice president Joe Cipher demonstrated the Treo 600 and Good Technology's GoodLink software. He said GoodLink enables enterprises to provision Treo 600s more quickly because user-specific data can be wirelessly loaded onto the device and managed in a format similar to Microsoft Outlook.
Following the shareholder approval of Palm's acquisition of Handspring Inc. last month, the company spun off PalmSource, which will focus on the operating system. Palm, which will develop hardware, was renamed PalmOne.
Chris Bonadeo, a programmer and analyst with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va., said he had wanted to learn more about the latest Palm-based devices.
Bonadeo, who provides support for Palm handhelds in his organization, said that even though the Palm OS offers better client usability than Microsoft's handheld operating systems, he fears PalmSource won't be able to keep up with Microsoft's advances in manageability.
Attendee Jose Rafael Abinader, CEO of O&M Technologies in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, said "Palm is on the right track" with its strategy for integrating wireless data and telecommunications services. He was optimistic about PalmSource's plan to streamline its APIs because the developer community will likely embrace the move.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Learn more about the coming generation of smart phones.
Read our review of the PalmOne Tungsten T3.