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Palm News - Centro GSM + Linux OS Delayed

Today we have some good news and some very bad news…  For starters the good news is that a leaked image appears to confirm that a new Treo smartphone (pictured below) is headed to AT&T.  The device looks identical to the Sprint Centro but has the Treo logo at the top left which might hint that it may be released as the Treo 500p.  Additionally, it’s interesting to see some new applications on the device such as PushToTalk (finally) as well as AT&T’s Xpress Mail, (Shopping) Mall and Music.

Palm Centro Treo 500p GSM

Palm Linux OSOn another front, the very bad news is that Palm’s CEO Ed Colligan appears to now have confirmed in a recent conference call that the long awaited Linux OS that the company has been frantically developing for some time (years) will not become available on new devices before “the end of next calendar year” (end 2008).

At first I thought that this was a mistake and that Colligan had been misquoted but it’s now the second time within a few short weeks that he has given an estimated ETA of late 2008.  I thus have to reluctantly and very disappointingly conclude that my previous hopes of seeing a new high-end Treo smartphone with the Linux OS by Q1 ‘08 are now pure fantasy.

Overall, I don’t know whether to feel angry or simply dismayed at this latest delay.  While I guess that I can live with the existing PalmOS for a while longer, I nonetheless find it unacceptable not to see meaningful improvements to the PalmOS in the meantime – an area where Palm has done next to nothing in the last few years.  Like me people are scratching their heads wondering why the company has not even made basic, simple and quick changes such as applying a more modern skin to give it a more attractive look and feel.

I have absolutely no doubt that when released the Linux OS will be absolutely great – Palm is spending literally hundreds of millions on its development – but we’re all simply tired of hearing that “it’s coming soon”.  Sure, there are already signs thanks to the Centro and Treo 500 that at least Palm’s hardware design team is starting to get things right again but it unfortunately suffers because of the lack of the new OS…

Treo 500p image via GearDiary

Treonauts hate to be delayed

Posted by Andrew on October 4, 2007 at 12:40 PM
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by JD | Oct 4, 2007 12:58:10 PM

looks like a fake ...
it's weird that Colligan said at the conference in NYC last week that Sprint will have exclusivity on Centro until xmas... but wait a minute .... it would come out after xmas then so the exclusivity deal is over ???

anyway, there is sthg weird that makes this pic suspicious



by Jack Graham | Oct 4, 2007 2:49:58 PM

It's either fake or its that they aren't getting it until Christmas, because Sprint does have 3 months exclusivity with this device. Of course, maybe they could get around it by calling the GSM one a Treo 500 rather than the Centro, but if I were Sprint I'd consider that a big stretch. Besides, why give AT&T any apples, when they have the exclusive on the iPhone for now (couldn't help the pun)?

by AndyP | Oct 4, 2007 3:08:51 PM

The Q1 availabilty of the 500 series may simply be the result of Sprint's exclusivity clause. What has me more concerned is the tremendous NEED for the Linux Palm phone. Really, Palm if we had seen any real changes in the last few years (wi-fi, whatever) we'd have an easier time hanging in and waiting.

I'm still waiting to hear anything about the 800w series. Latest credible rumors are Q1 2008 appearance (and that may be optimistic) and I'm guessing that the phone is (just) a CDMA 755p.

Let's not get into the knee-jerk reactions here, people. I know. One-handed. Qwerty keyboard. I just think that we're falling further and further back in the pack. Palm, are you listening? PDA phones are coming out with double or even four times the RAM of the 755. OK. WM needs it but the Palm OS can run in a couple of K. Whatever. I'm just looking at the entire market and comparing it to the Treos. And the Treos are coming up short.

Palm! We're dying out here and we're begging for something. Anything. Unless your plan is to trade your mainstream customers for entry-level customers the 500 series does nothing for us. We know why we bought our Treos and smaller and cheaper isn't going to get us to trade down to to the latest models.

Read my lips. More RAM. Wi-Fi. GPS. Soon.

by proee | Oct 4, 2007 3:15:31 PM

I suspect the delay in the new Linux OS is directly related to the iPhone. The graphics power of the iPhone probably made upper managment reconsider the development of the new Linux OS - possibly starting over from scratch again! In order to compete with the iPhone, the new Linux OS will have to be VERY good. Better to change course now, then release something early that is only modestly improved.... What do you guys think?

by TazUk | Oct 4, 2007 3:21:10 PM

If they mean by then end of next year there will be products available for sale with the new OS then, although not good, it wouldn't be a total disaster. If they only get the OS finished by then and they still need to develop devices to run it and go through all the carrier testing then I think they'll be up a certain place without an implement used for rowing!

by Aaron | Oct 4, 2007 3:40:17 PM

Proee is probably right. The iPhone raised the bar for mobile UI. Heck, even the Zune 2 raises the bar for mobile UI. (It's no secret that Microsoft has a Zune phone in the works, and the new interface looks great.)

In order to compete, Palm can't simply take a bunch of mobile linux apps and slap a consistent skin on them.

That's going to mean hiring a serious UI team -- something Palm hasn't had since the original Pilot ten years ago. End users aren't going to care whether the new software uses Linux, Windows Mobile, or anything else. They'll care that it works, that it's stable, and that it looks good.

by cwf42 | Oct 4, 2007 3:51:26 PM

I am stumped. I have had treos for the last 5 years and have been satisfied, albeit jealous of other phones. I have had to use my old 600p the last 3 weeks because my 700p was stolen, it has been a beating. I am locked into Sprint for who knows how long and was excited to see the Centro on the horizon. I am know concerned after hearing the negativity on Palm and also the fact that the centro will not be able to run PCS Business Connection, which is apparently the only way to get my email from my office server without having to do a hack. My primary use for my PDA is email and it synced with my outlook. Does anyone have any suggestions? Should I go with the Centro and see how it is or check into alternatives?

by BaDZeD | Oct 4, 2007 3:56:16 PM

David Beers at Pikesoft (www.pikesoft.com/blog) had an interesting theory on this. Essentially, Palm was developing a Linux OS for a while now and we did see it on the Foleo. This spring, however, a few key software people, responsible for the original ipod joined in and they wanted to start from scratch on a different Linux based os. Its a great article, I advise everyone to read it.

by Liberty For ALL! | Oct 4, 2007 7:10:55 PM

So no Linux Palm OS till late 2008 = giving Apple's iPhone the green light!!!

by Bill | Oct 4, 2007 9:38:11 PM

I think Linux OS for Palm will not be there. Why not invest in the existing PalmOS which is now back with Palm! After all Palm OS is not too bad just need further development. Especially now that Palm can have full control over it and make meaningful and much anticipated improvement be it multi-tasking or better UI.

My bet is Palm will release a new version of PalmOS early next year using Centro hardware platform.

I am eager to await that moment. But my fear is the battery capacity to afford a decent full day usage without worrying. At the moment, I am happy with 680 with 1600mHa batt.

by What's in a Name? | Oct 4, 2007 9:49:34 PM

so IF we were to believe the postponement of a Linux based Treo is due to the iPhone, what happens if/when Steve Jobs wants to introduce another revolutionary product or upgrade in January as he did this year? Is Palm going to fall back on their heels again, becoming only reactive to Apples inovation?

Personally, I like to think (actually, I PRAY) that the iPhone was not the reason for the delay......otherwise Palm officially becomes followers in the business.

by dmm | Oct 5, 2007 6:32:19 AM

Bill--Palm's plan all along, most people figure, was to get the use of the current OS just to emulate it. There's nowhere to take Garnet (the current OS). It was built as a stopgap from previous versions, and the original was built with limitations (like no multitasking) that they never anticipated they'd need or want to use.

What's in a Name?--that all depends on whether there's one cause or multiple factors. I think the iPhone is one, though it may not be the only one and might not justify the delay on its own. It all depends... reading the tea leaves is more art than science.

Personally, I'm hopeful that 1) Palm will deliver on the new OS and 2) that there's something to the "revolutionary form factors" Ed Colligan mentioned on Palm's conference call this week. Can I be sure? No. However, this is their "last best chance"... We'll just have to wait (at least for the rumor mill to gear up) and see.

by Michael Barnes | Oct 5, 2007 8:21:25 AM

Well, it seems I may have to be heading for that Centro when it comes out. I haven't upgraded since there was nothing remarkable on the new GSM devices. My Treo 650 is starting to have seen better days. It's quick muting on and off is about to drive me and my friend nuts. Either that or I'm going to jump ship to WinMob, which I don't want to do.

I've been waiting patiently for the Linux OS, since it's been rumored for so long. First it was the end of this year, and I thought "yea, I can last that long." Then it was rumored for early next year and I thought, "OK, I think I'll be fine." Now, with waiting till next year, I'm not so sure.

I think that this delay may finally make Palm lose a good chunk of their faithful followers.

by wushuhsu | Oct 5, 2007 7:52:17 PM

Palm should fire their entire Linux team and hire a BSD team. They would save money from having to pay some other OS company to bail them out, and, they would actually get a product out. After years of broken promises, who really believes they'll have an OS out by the end of next year?

by Tommy | Oct 6, 2007 12:41:10 AM

Uggh. Very disappointed to hear this. I was really hoping to see a new o/s for Palm.

Don't they realize that most cell contracts are two years? Given that, before they release their new Linux people will have to make choices for a new phone. Well, at least that's what I'm thinking. I've had the treo 680 for almost a year. Next year I will be looking again. I like the Palm O/S, but not for life...

At the very least, like some other posters have said, they should consider updating the Palm O/S. For starters, how about some new fonts and color? How about a 3-d button? I mean, they could come up with something better than an oval for a button, right? They could start by owning some of those hack programs, making them work, and integrating them...

They don't need to complete a new o/s, just up the current version by more than 0.0.1. Try going to version 6! Oh, and why in the world did they stop using the phone interface that came out on the 680? Who can answer that one?

...oh, and add WiFi!

by sg | Oct 6, 2007 5:02:55 AM

100s of Millions on a new OS..based on Linux good grief...this should be a 20 person-50 person 1-1.5 year project at worst.. that would be less then 15 Million tops.. I love my Treo...but it's getting old...and unfortunately, looks like Palm is road kill. By end of 2008 we will all be on BlackBerrys..sigh..

by B Blomberg | Oct 7, 2007 9:42:47 AM

"Oh, and why in the world did they stop using the phone interface that came out on the 680? Who can answer that one?"

That fancy interface did look rather snazzy, if you love aluminium emptiness... But it was impractical and STOLE a lot of space, as several visible lines in the contact page!!

It was a smart move to skip that, but better looking design - that NOT steal space - would be very cool... Then can simply buy the best skin program, select the finest skin and let the other be alternatives ;-)

by Jmore | Oct 10, 2007 7:40:47 PM

There's the final nail in the coffin. Thanks Palm, you've served me well for over 8 years. Now I can officially retire my 650 and go iPhone.

by DG | Oct 15, 2007 6:00:14 PM

How much can we take? This company continues to make demands on its core customers to hang in there with them, but then make NO effort to throw us a bone.

In the immortal words of my esteemed fellow Treonaut AndyP above, "Palm! We're dying out here and we're begging for something. Anything. Unless your plan is to trade your mainstream customers for entry-level customers the 500 series does nothing for us. We know why we bought our Treos and smaller and cheaper isn't going to get us to trade down to to the latest models.

Read my lips. More RAM. Wi-Fi. GPS. Soon."

More RAM, yes. Wi-fi, sure. GPS, might as well. But seriously, above all that, BIGGER SCREEN.

We are dying out here, throw us a bone, we do know why we bought our Treos and smaller and cheaper isn't going to get us to trade DOWN to the latest models.

Hey Palm, can you hear it? It's the sound of bitter tears as more and more Palm loyalists find themselves with no choice but to move on since you've sent us NO hope, nothing to hang our hats on...

by DG | Oct 22, 2007 1:05:59 PM

I must update my previous comment with some new insight.

Not sure whether it remains bad news or may be a ray of hope, but I think I now truly understand why the Linux offering will be delayed.

I popped into an Apple store and saw, held and played with the iPhone. I'm getting the impression that the iPhone has scared Palm silly, and right at this very moment the direction they THOUGHT they would take the Linux they have realized won't be good enough, so they are scrambling to do better.

The iPhone is SLICK, and has absolutely raised the bar where interface is concerned. Gee, how my Treo seems just plain klunky when compared to the seemless beauty of the hardware itself. After holding the iPhone in my hands, picking up my 680 seems like walking backwards in time. Every edge on my 680 now seems almost oafish, clumsy...

And, this is the point. The 680 is nice. It is plenty better than my old paper-based day planner organizer book. But the iPhone is the thesis of elegance.

NOW, let's be clear. I find the iPhone TOO THIN in my hand. I LOVE the big beautiful high-resolution screen (have I mentioned how much I want a bigger screen on my Treo? It is my single most important item on my wish list). I wonder how much 3rd party development there will be in the world of the Mac PDA OS in order for me to customize my PDA with the software that supports my individual life - I want my PDA to work for me, not me for it.

I would suggest, therefore, that it is still bad news that they were planning to release for us hard-working Treo users a "new OS" that was still behind the competition. That's pretty sad.

But, if they actually are getting smarter, then they're high-tailing it now to redirect their efforts and attempt to stay relevant.

And that, oh so hopefully, must be good news, if I'm right.

So, I will "hand around" in my 680. I will get the Centro for my wife in a few months, and we will wait for Palm to get me the next generation by 2009. If they fail this time, we should all quit and move on, for they will finally, unquestionably and irreversably prove themselves unworthy of our unrequited loyalty - there are other companies working far harder to listen to us.

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