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Palm Nova OS Details

Palm 2.0 = New Nova OS + New Palm Smartphone Brand (Quattro or Quatreo?)

As most of us know, over the past three years Palm has been secretly working on the development of an entirely new operating system codenamed “Nova” based on Linux which the company plans to use to power the next generation of Palm smartphones expected to be released in the first half of 2009.

For the most part Palm has kept any information about this new NOVA OS close to its chest but in a recent interview CEO Ed Colligan finally opened up a little and discussed in some detail what this quote/unquote “Palm 2.0” operating system is all about.

Palm Nova OS - Palm 2.0

Colligan speaks of “Palm 2.0” as being a “next-generation operating system with much more capabilities, driven around the Internet and Web-based applications” – addressing not only one of the core limitations of current Palm smartphones today (not a particularly rich mobile browsing experience) but also the nascent use of mobile web applications.

Asked why Palm was still developing its own OS, Colligan stated that “We’re focused on executing our own system, mostly because we really believe that to create the most compelling solution it should be an integrated package much like we started with the Palm OS and doing the original Palm Pilots: we did the operating system, we did the hardware and we did the whole synching architecture and the desktop tie-in, which is equivalent to the Web these days. One of the things we wanted to do is to make sure that we had an end-to-end solution we really controlled and could deliver the end-user experience we want to deliver. We think [Palm 2.0] is going to be stunning and breakthrough in its execution, and we’re working on some very exciting new devices to go with it” (not all devices will be smartphones and Foleo II may appear under the new OS).

Colligan also points out that the “classic” Palm OS is not going away as it will continue to be offered in low-end devices such as the Centro.  “Centro is our consumer line of products, the start of a product line to hit that demographic and price point” Colligan says. “Centro will be strictly Palm OS”.

At the same time, Palm will continue to promote the Treo line of Windows Mobile smartphones to business customers (such as the forthcoming Treo 800w and Treo 850).  “Microsoft is the de facto standard in corporate email, and I think they should be the de facto standard in mobile email.  If you have an Exchange server today you can already get mobile push email without installing a single other piece of third-party equipment, so it’s pretty easy to deploy.  I don’t believe we could ever create a position in the business community that competes with Microsoft, it just wouldn’t make any sense.”

Palm Quattro Smartphone ???

That ‘next generation’ Palm 2.0 OS will slot in between the Centro and Treo lines under a new ‘prosumer’ brand that’s yet to be decided, Colligan explains.  “We’re going to continue to look at those three line areas – consumer, prosumer and enterprise. Treo is today more of our mainstream prosumer product which is extended into the enterprise, but over time you’ll see some branding work done on the top two to make sure they’re really well delineated.”

Overall it’s encouraging to hear that Palm is not only getting closer to releasing its new NOVA OS / Palm 2.0 smartphone but also placing much greater emphasis on mobile web browsing and mobile “Web 2.0” applications – I’m naturally dying to see what the devices running Palm 2.0 will actually look like…

Also, I’m not sure how I feel about the news that Palm will in the future only push Windows Mobile in the Enterprise market but there is clearly logic behind this move.  Palm seems likely to use Windows Mobile smartphones to compete against RIM then NOVA OS smartphones to compete against Apple and the Classic Palm OS Centro to compete against other entry-level manufacturers – giving the company a wide portfolio to grab market share.

Palm readies next-gen “Web 2.0” OS [via APCmag]
Next-Gen Palm OS [via Gizmodo]

Treonauts are always ready for the next thing

Posted by Andrew on May 28, 2008 at 05:47 PM

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Tracked on Dec 18, 2008 10:45:13 AM


by Sorian | May 28, 2008 10:07:54 PM

So you are saying that my Centro can't have the new OS when it comes out? NO FAIR!

by random9q | May 29, 2008 6:37:45 AM


Disappointing capitulation to Microsoft in the enterprise market, but I can always dream that Palm one day is in a strong enough position to pose a more serious threat.

Interesting argument about being able to control both the OS and the hardware together. There's some merit to it, and the iPhone is surely the competing example of Palm's envy. I do remember the Clié, though. Before Sony decided not to renew its PalmOS license, it'd become quite facile at producing high-end PalmOS PDAs, including doing things in a way that demonstrated an adroit ability to hack the OS. I always kinda wondered what they would've done if for their mobile phones they'd built around PalmOS instead of Symbian, but I infer (via the Sony-*Ericsson* name) that their phones were via an M&A instead of an endeavor started in their own R&D. And I do point out that no one was arguing then about the Clié being able to deliver a "world-class higher-end compelling user experience" (in more period-appropriate marketing language, of course).

In any event, in terms of market calculations, I think it rather shrewd that they're not challenging WinMo head on in the enterprise market just now. Regardless of the observations above. They just don't have the momentum in the market to be able to do that. Not realistically, not this round. If NOVA OS is wildly successful, maybe eventually there will be enough of us "prosumer" (gack! who the heck coined that! gack! gack!) types who favor it that enterprise culture will take a look at it. Until then, best to keep rolling out another line of devices that guarantee the enterprise market keeps an eye on your products as a serious offering.

As for keeping Palm OS around for consumer devices, I suspect that is similarly shrewd, and for different reasons. It gives any developer with an app that won't port well some additional time and still gives them a revenue stream -- keeping the developer community happy. It gives any of us with cartloads of Palm OS software a safe harbor for a while, but gives us a carrot of prestige once we're ready to make the jump -- which will save some grumbling. *Some*. Us "prosumer" (gack! cough!) types are an inevitably grumbly and argumentative lot by nature, it seems.

Still way too short on details for me, I'd like information on architecture and capabilities and how it will feel to develop software on and whether, like Android, it will permit third parties to "replace" some of the built-in apps completely. But the strategy is something to chew on, and at least seems well thought out to me in as little as was stated.

by Cheker | May 29, 2008 11:55:26 AM

So it will be like that for Palm? Centro/Old-PalmOS = Low end, Treo/Window Mobile = Big time Flagship devices, and New-PalmOS devices = just an in-the-middle "prosumer". Great ... NOT!!!

by Andrew | May 29, 2008 12:10:35 PM

Checker - the iPhone is also a "prosumer" device so I wouldn't have such low hopes for the "Quattro" when it is released - I pretty much guarantee that it will have all the same high-end hardware specifications as the new Windows Mobile Treo line but will be running Palm 2.0 / NOVA OS.

Cheers, A.

by random9q | May 29, 2008 6:00:16 PM


Ditto with one more comment. Expect that Palm is very, very nervous that once their NOVA OS hits the market the reaction will be exactly like yours and will be spending a lot of effort trying not to disappoint. How successful they will be remains to be seen, but just because a device isn't high-end-large-business-friendly doesn't mean it won't wow you.

Making "Cobalt" too business and carrier friendly was a colossal mis-step, too, and that'd also be fresh in mind.

I'd expect more features, too, that businesses shun because they are time sinks... like media-use and game-friendly features. Take a look at flash-oriented gaming sites: that seems to fit into, as a subset, what's described above. Or www.instantaction.com (a beta of GarageGame's). And so on. Including more comminity-oriented stuff that isn't gaming, of couse. And so on, again. Which is also why I'm looking for more spcifics. At this point I see TOO many possibilities. There isn't time to build all of them before launch. I want to see what they DO build. But I'll have to WAIT.

by Stuart Guthrie | May 30, 2008 10:48:48 AM

I can't wait until the Nova is released - I'm sure Palm are going to blow us away! I love my Treo but I also hope that Palm offer dedicated handhelds (like the Tungsten or LifeDrive) running the new OS.

Stu :-)

by Nigel | May 30, 2008 1:57:23 PM

Seems Palm still hasn't a clue. Have they forgotten the Chevy Nova? Car didn't sell well, partly because "no va" in Spanish means "doesn't go."

At least it's just a code name, but still you don't want everyone buzzing about your upcoming product code named "doesn't go." The current Palm OS freezes often enough, thank you.

by Roberto | May 30, 2008 6:38:12 PM


Well, for Pedro's sake... it would be pretty hard to devise a name, code or not, that in some language does not mean something stupid, or rude, or both. There used to be the joke about DOS causing problems in Hispanic countries because at the prompt "Insert DOS disk in drive" people would crunch in TWO floppies... I trust that the success of a product rests on better premises than linguistic compatibility.

Perhaps Palm should code name Palm 3.0 VABIEN (hey, that would work in French too!)

by Bill | May 30, 2008 7:57:38 PM

I wouldn't mind this strategy so much if Windows Mobile's UI wasn't so awful. I have watched in amusement as some pretty hardcore users in my company have thrown their WM devices hard against a wall and switched to something else. To me "Enterprise" doesn't say Windows. In the mobile space, I tend to think more of RIM and maybe even iPhone. Marketing people may point to an albatross and call it a duck, but if it doesn't quack I'm not buying it.

What the really interesting interplay is going to be -- as at least one other commenter noted -- is now the Nova device plays against the iPhone. In particular, the iPhone 2 (expected to be announced soon) should have at least a 6-month head start with applications due to the upcoming SDK and App Store launches. And I, even as a enterprise user, am watching that development very closely.

If a device, ANY device, can support my needs either with bundled or third party applications -- email, PIM, always-on IM, web, rich media apps, SSH, remote consoles, etc -- in way that is not a hassle to work with, then I'll consider it. The iPhone misses the boat on third party apps (for the moment). Windows Mobile loses due to insanely crappy UI. Palm simply hasn't been innovating so hasn't much new to offer -- so I'm still on a 680.

In my view, there isn't a must-have device or people would be flocking to it like sheep. But if the vendors can address their shortcomings for our hopeful usage, then things will get interesting. Palm has a particularly crappy track record of delivering quality OS releates in a timely way... so I'm still considering Nova a huge question mark. If they want to build some creds, they should take a page from Apple's playbook and consider some form of beta program -- even if it's an emulator. I wouldn't touch a new release of anything they put out for at least several months while others munch on bugs.

by random9q | May 30, 2008 9:29:07 PM

Regarding "no va": Yeah, I've heard it. Parents drove a Nova, actually, so you bet I've been thinking the same. Since it's only a code name I'm hoping the impact is minimal. Plenty of time to come up with a made-up multi-culturally-inoffensive-intangibly-interesting-name. Maybe. I think. ;-)

Re: WinMo UI sucks stinky rocks. Yeah. I agree. You buy more intelligently than lots of folks. It is the exchange server that sells, though, to enterprise folks because Microsoft sells the package-deal well. RIM is good but WinMo got a few fleeing crowds for a while when RIM was in litigual limbo. Not their fault, a pretty raw deal, but they took it in market share.

Hope bringing in the ChatterEmail author improves VersaMail greatly. 'Sall I'll say. About Palm's previous results as an email client.

Re: Still using a 680. Yeah, my carrier tried to offer me a discounted upgrade early. Switch to RIM or WinMo or get a 755p. No go. 755p not different enough. As long as my 700p doesn't crap out on me. There are moments -- usually when it resets in the middle of working on it -- that I'm tempted to tantrum-style throw it against a wall. My coworkers would be shocked, pretty much known for my long fuse and chill temper. But I've managed not to. And I've managed to stabilize my 700p over time a bit more. My Zire 72 was more stable, but obviously didn't have ChatterEmail getting network IMAP updates in the background constantly. Nor was it NVFS. And I think that's the difference there. I'm still sore at Palm over how they rolled NVFS out. Moreso than how they botched Cobalt, actually. NVFS gave Palm an *earned* right to be called buggy. They'd better have figured how to roll out new features without making the app base buggy.

Oh, wait, the old app base might not be compatible with the device at ALL.

Re: Beta via emulator.

Aren't they supposed to roll out Nova OS a few months before any devices? Well, how do they do that? An emulator! (And an SDK, I presume.) There you go! I think that's the official rumor, anyhow.

by Nigel | Jun 1, 2008 12:51:27 AM


"Dos" means two. "No va" means it doesn't go. I don't think the acronym DOS hindered sales or caused disparagement of the product. Nova did both. It's ironic that Palm would pick a known problematic name, especially when their current operating system so frequently doesn't go (freezes, resets). There are people who check proposed brand names for just this sort of thing. Most don't mean something stupid or rude in other languages. My French isn't very good, but I think "va bien" means "he is fine," not "it goes well", but I suppose Palm could code name it Vabien if they wanted to.

by John Whorfin | Jun 2, 2008 1:08:17 AM

So let me get this straight...

- Consumer / Centro / Palm OS.

- Prosumer / Quattro / Palm 2.0.

- Enterprise / Treo / Windows Mobile.

Seriously? Sounds more like...

- Re.

- Tar.

- Ded.

Palm can't even adequately support the current (hopelessly convoluted) product lines they have, and now they're going to add a third hardware and software/OS platform to the mix? Ooo, brilliant! (And how many models for each?)

Show me one example of any company that has succeeded with THREE simultaneous hardware AND software/OS platforms in the SAME product category (in this case, smartphones).

Nintendo has managed two hardware/software platforms - the Wii and the DS - but they aren't the same product category (one's a console, the other's handheld). Similarly, Apple's pulled off three hardware/software platforms - the Mac, the iPhone/iPod Touch, and the iPod - but again, they aren't the same product category (and the iPhone/iPod Touch uses a handheld/mobile version of OS X, not an entirely different OS). Sony I suppose does three as well - they make PCs, plus they have the PS3 and PSP - but again, totally different product categories.

Now imagine if Nintendo or Sony tried to make and support three different handheld/portable gaming devices - each with different hardware and software/OS platforms, which weren't compatible with each other. Or imagine if Apple made three different iPhones using different hardware and software/OS platforms.

You can't, can you? Because it'd be as STUPID as it'd be INSANE.

Colligan has clearly lost his marbles - or is lying.


by seraphan | Jun 2, 2008 10:18:40 PM

I currently own a Treo 680. I am kinda curious if Treo 680 can be upgraded to Nova when its out.

by Seraphan | Jun 2, 2008 10:22:17 PM


Motorola does 3: Winmo, Linux and the run-of-the-mill handphone.

by Mikey | Jun 3, 2008 12:22:30 PM

This is 21st century corporate America. As long as there is cash in the coffers and executives with marketing skill, they will create a stir of deluded expectations to keep the corrupted board at bay while siphoning money out of the company and into their pockets. The above plan is so self-important and absurd I really don't think anyone will care what Palm comes out with next. This is the future:

Centro: Palm OS - A platform quickly becoming dead and sales are representative of legacy Palm OS customers getting a small phone to tide them over to something else.

Quattro: Palm 2.0 - Who will care? By the time this comes out even RIM will have made a more serious entry into the prosumer market and the iPhone has its dedicated user base. Windows mobile will improve as has Symbian leaving this poor excuse that nobody really needs for an OS. Unless it cooks dinner and does my laundry...

Enterprise: Win Mobile: This is the only entry Palm has that anyone will care about. There is already plenty of competition in this space. The "Treo advantage" is long gone and unless it's totally revoluationary, this isn't going to save the company.

So Mr. Colligan, continue to rake in your dollars while spinning to the press that Palm is going to conquer tall buildings in a single bound. Like most other Treos, people will say "um... haven't I heard and seen that one before?" Ho Hum. Auctioning off my Palm stuff on Craig's List...

by Andrew | Jun 3, 2008 12:39:59 PM

Mikey - I strongly disagree with your outlook.

1. The Palm Centro is the single most successful consumer smartphone out there today and most of its owners are new and not previous Treo owners. It clearly shows the resilience of the Palm OS which not only continues to win new converts but which also continues to meet the needs of people like me.

2. The "Quattro" devices will not only have an "amazing" operating system with the new NOVA but is also likely to have a completely revamped form factor. I have no doubt that it will compete agressively and effectively against anything that the likes of Apple and RIM are able to throw at it.

3. As you point out, the new Windows Mobile Treo smartphones with their high-end specifications will likely strongly appeal to a corporate audience intent on saving costs (by not using a RIM server) in an increasingly more difficult market.

Strike 1 + Strike 2 + Strike 3 = a winning combination in my book...

Having said this, it's true that Palm still needs to fully exploit the opportunity that exists and I hope that the new team will be able to execute it well.

Cheers, A.

by Joe | Jun 3, 2008 4:13:51 PM

@Andrew: As I noted in another thread earlier today, I'm completely astounded at your repeated comment that "Centro is the single most successful consumer smartphone out there today".

Can you provide some current, objective evidence to support this position? Because ALL the data I see indicates that Apple and RIM are smashing Palm in market share.

And one can reasonably expect that both Apple and RIM will extend their leads very soon -- with Apple expected to add 3G capability, GPS support, Exchange support, and an SDK, while Blackberry is releasing Bold -- in the next few weeks, not a year from now! And icing on the cake, StyleTap recently announced that they'll be releasing a Palm OS emulator for iPhone, easing migration for existing Treo/Centro users.

I really don't see how Palm can survive this onslaught as anything more than a niche player.

by John Whorfin | Jun 3, 2008 11:15:31 PM

Andrew, Andrew, Andrew...

Put down the Kool-Aid. We aren't drinking it anymore.

It is at best delusional and at worst dishonest to call the Centro "the single most successful consumer smartphone out there today". Because IT'S JUST NOT TRUE.

Stop undermining what tiny sliver of credibility this site has left.

by Everett | Jun 4, 2008 12:07:25 AM

To correct just about everyone on this thread, poor Chevy Nova sales in Spanish-speaking countries (and the likelihood of Spanish-speakers viewing the Nova negatively due to its name) is an urban legend.


by I WANT MY FOLEO... NOT!!! | Jun 5, 2008 10:41:21 AM

"We think [Palm 2.0] is going to be stunning and breakthrough in its execution, and we’re working on some very exciting new devices to go with it” (not all devices will be smartphones and Foleo II may appear under the new OS)."






that's hot

by random9q | Jun 5, 2008 10:30:10 PM


Meh. Foleo is a niche idea. But it is my kind of niche, so kindly quit dissin' on the practicals of my reality. I really could use an instant-on device about that size that's amout 1/16th the weight of my laptop. For mere web-surfing and email and little more. What can I say but my aching back and the draconian office policies make it actually practical.

And I know the account executive types would kill for something like that. But they'll have RedFly for their WinMo devices, so they can shell out for it.

It may be my folly, but I want my Foleo.

by random9q | Jun 5, 2008 10:32:50 PM



Gawddamn I love that site. SO useful. I should remember it more often. Politely debunked more well-meaning chain-mails in my in-box than I care to count.

by Chuck Darwin | Jun 11, 2008 2:17:34 AM

Palm sounds more and more like Commodore did when it was trying to extend the life of the C-64 by bringing out the C-128 while simultaneously marketing the revolutionary Amiga. Too many eggs in too many baskets, and Commodore devolved from early personal computer market-share leader to dodo bird in under 5 years. Palm is making the same mistake.

by plmn | Jun 12, 2008 11:42:42 AM

With 2 million sold and counting, the Centro is very successful by any measure and rants about the demise of Palm are overstated.

Palm now has a top-notch executive team and industry analysts are expecting big things from them. As long as they can meet their current deadline promises, I don't think they are in any dager of going to go out of business before 2.0 rolls out. If 2.0 gets scrapped like their last two big releases, they will be done.

Although I am frustrated about many things on my Centro from flakey software to missing features that should be standard, for my use it is still far more useful than the iPhone and the new 3G doesn't seem to change that much. I fully expect a more refined Centro replacement by the time I'm due for a new phone. If there aren't good improvements, I'm sure somebody else will be able to match the features by then in a more attractive overall package. Of course many current Palm fans have been waiting for improvements for some time so who knows.

As a disclaimer, my Centro is my first smartphone. I won't claim to be an expert, but I do know what I need and use in a smartphone and what is eye candy. By the nature of what they do mobile phones get abused and updated often, so I don't think any phone is realistically designed to be used for more than 2 years. As such, overall cost is very important, and I think sales of the Centro show that.

by Geedavey | Jun 12, 2008 2:57:29 PM

I think that all Palm needs is:

Multithreaded, multitasking new version of the Palm OS that supports legacy apps

Flash and Java support native in the browser (an iPhone killer right there)

and a 640x320 or 800x400 dual-orientation display with the same fantastic keyboard they already have (i participate in IRC chatrooms with it, and I can keep up!).

With the WHOLE internet on their screen rather than the iPhone's crippled version, plus the boxcar-load of still-fantastic legacy apps available and a dedicated cadre of developers still going strong, that'd be an iPod-humbling response. And coupled with a good online store it could keep Palm in dividends for another decade.

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