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EuroDevCon - Day 1

Back to back presentations stretching all day from 9.00am to 10.00pm and one-to-one meetings with dozens of attendees has left me packed with notes, ideas and plenty of stories to tell (there were over 20 combined hardware and software releases and/or annoucements made today)... I can't report on all of them now but I'll try to give you as much of it as possible...

Revving the engines...

Here, David Nagel, PalmSource CEO opening the conference with a keynote presentation.  Early on, David outlined what I found to be a powerful vision statement for the company when he stated:

"We'll do for wireless what we did for the PDA space: Deliver simple and elegant solutions to real customer problems."

He also emphasized the company's short term goal to increase the number of GSM phones running PalmOS - with the announcement today of the Qool smartphone.

For those Treonauts who have been longtime Palm OS fans this should provide you with an indication of the renewed energy with which PalmSource is embarking for the future.  Having spent many hours picking the team's brains I can tell you that I will be leaving mighty impressed by this company.  There's a level of dynamism, optimism, can-do and lets-go-get-them attitutes that it's hard not to want to encourage and support this team. 

On another note, I later had the opportunity to ask David if Sony might come back to the Palm OS frey in the future - particularly on the smartphone front - to which he answered that the company's relationship with Sony continues to be very strong and it cannot be dismissed that such a future device might appear.  After a while I also stopped to wonder why I had not brought up the question of Apple becoming a potential licensee...  iPhone with the PalmOS and a ton of cool iPhone accessories?  Doesn't sound bad at all to me!

In fact after speaking with PalmSource's VP of product marketing and the many licensees in attendance (Samsung, GSPda and Qool Labs) I thought that maybe raising a few million to license PalmOS and develop a next generation smartphone might not be such a dumb idea after all...  Although not a smartphone, the people over at Tapwave certainly have done a great job developing a 'Palm Entertainment Device' with their Zodiac...

A new PalmOS licensee and ODM PiTech developed the Qool Labs QDA-700 smartphone... I will have more pictures of this tomorrow when I get a chance to play with it in the morning.  Also had a closer but brief play around with GSPda's G18 and G88 and will have a chance to take it for a longer spin tomorrow.  One interesting point is that both of these manufacturers are strongly targeting and making inroads in the Asian market which is undoubtedly becoming one of the most important ones in the world.  I also learned from speaking with a GS representative how commonplace movies and television were in Asia - thus their emphasis on the multimedia capabilities of their devices.

SAMSUNG [No Photo...]

Hidden within his short speech, Ryan Lee of Samsung's Business Development Team, confirmed that Samsung is actively working on a number of Garnet and Cobalt devices!  When I asked him later he could not however specify any release dates for these.  More on Samsung tomorrow though...

PalmOne's VP EMEA, Vesey Crichton, outlined the many and growing opportunities in the smarthphone space with a total market size of 25 million units by 2006 (however there are many conflicting market figures at the moment as nobody seems to agree on what should or should not be considered a 'smartphone'... via www.gigaom.com ).

He went on to point out that from recent surveys and analyst reports it is estimated that of the 600 million mobiles phones sold this year there are about 200 million of those users who want a 'smarter phone'.  A statement which certainly spells BIG opportunities for palmOne.

He also interestingly singled out GPS integration on palmOne devices as a huge upcoming market.

Richard Hanscott, VP of Business Development at Orange astonished me by stating that the Treo currently generates the highest ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) among its vast phone lineup! 

IBM [No Photo...]

Todd Moore, Chief Technology Officer at IBM's Pervasive Computing Unit, strongly reassured the audience that the PalmOS was indeed an 'enterprise class mobile computing application' and overall provided a strong indication of PalmSource's potential to penetrate the corporate community in a very meaningful way.

Tyler Nelson, VP Global Business Development at RIM, not only reiterated that BlackBerry will shortly become available as a downloadable application for the PalmOS but also that it will come preloaded on a number of upcoming Palm Powered devices.

Two pictures of BlackBerry Connect demo on Palm Powered Samsung SGH-i500.  Sadly no Treo...

Larry Slotnick, Chief Product Officer at PalmSource, presented details of his company's four main product annoucements:

1. PalmOS Cobalt 6.1 (see previous post also and this very good overview at BargainPDA)
2. PalmSource Installer (which as I mention further below I consider to be an extraordinary solution)
3. PalmSource Browser 3.0 (particularly the reformatting and display of web pages)
4. PalmOS Developer Suite 1.0
5. New Online Tools for PalmOS User Groups (PUGS)

Aside from this, I also had a couple of one-on-ones with Larry over lunch and later in the evening on which I will report in the next couple of days.

Snapshot of Cobalt 6.1's new appearance with 'sliplets, shading, anti-aliasing and transparence' - all are a direct inheritance from Palm's acquistion of BE OS some time ago.  The OS is finally starting to feel robust and is no longer just a nice little 'toy'...

Yesterday in the middle of a one-to-one demo with the new 'PalmSource Package Installer' team I actually found myself interrupting them to say "Guys, please tell me what has changed?  You are making such a radical turnaround!".  Multiple answers followed: a great new team in many areas such as marketing, engineering, product development and more; a focus on fixing the basics that had been left unattended for too long; stop pushing products and building solutions; KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) mindset+++

Demonstration of the PalmSource Package Installer solution - browse to website, follow link, click OK and you've got an application installed on your Treo...  Want to take it for a spin?  If you'd like to install a demo application using the *.psi package via your PC or if you'd rather test it over-the-air then you point your Treo browser here: www.palmsource.com/installer/demo/ota.  I'm willing to make a bet today that in the coming months this will become one of PalmSource's most important accomplishments of the year - I absolutely love it.

GSPda smartphones G88 (left) and G18.

The expanding PalmOS PDA and smartphone lineup (left to right): Treo 600, Tapwave Zodiac, palmOne Tungsten, Samsung SGH-i500, Kyocera, GS G88 and G18, Zire(s), Tungsten T3 and Garmin.

Posted by Andrew on September 28, 2004 at 04:56 PM

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