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The Apple Sidekick In Your Palm 2.0

Palm Sidekick AppleA couple of months ago I wrote a post entitled An Apple in your Palm which highlighted the many former key senior Apple Computer executives that are now working at Palm on the development of: 1) a next-generation hardware platform for a range of entirely new smartphone designs; 2) an entirely new operating system (codenamed NOVA) and mobile user interface as well as 3) a major focus on the integration of Web 2.0 applications and services.

Because of their respective professional backgrounds we have until now assumed that most of these new Palm executives were primarily working on the development of the new hardware platform (led by Jon Rubinstein – a technical guru who famously headed the iPod division at Apple and has joined Palm’s board as executive chairman as well as heading Palm’s hardware design and manufacturing) and the Web 2.0 services but little to nothing has until now ever come out about the team working on Palm’s next-generation NOVA OS and user interface.

A few days ago however we finally discovered that the man leading the charge on the OS and user interface front is no other than Matias Duarte – the famed user interface guru behind both Danger’s Sidekick and Helio Ocean interfaces (screenshots below).  Since September of 2007 he has been (very quietly and secretly) working as Palm’s Senior Director, Human Interface and User Experience.

Helio Ocean User Interface

 Helio Ocean UI - Messages Helio Ocean UI - Calendar

I have to admit that I am delighted to see someone with Duarte’s proven track record (he was Director of Design at Danger) finally “taking proper care” of our next UI.  After languishing for (too many) years in the development stages I hope that he’s at last the man who will make all our dreams come true when Palm unveils its new OS at the end of this year…

At the same time my hopes continue to be equally high for the next-generation hardware platform that Palm is designing.  Led by SVP of Product Development Mike Bell (a 16–year Apple veteran who until recently was vice president, CPU Software, in the Macintosh Hardware Division) Palm’s “product-realization group” will have to equal or surpass the significant design achievements made by both Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s new BlackBerry Bold.

Palm Quatro v0.1

I had already shared with you what a future Palm “Quatro” based on the iPhone (above) might look like and now thanks to Photoshop I’ve also managed to get a pretty good version of one based on the BlackBerry Bold (below).

Palm Quatro v0.2

To say that Palm’s repeated delays on both the OS and new hardware designs over the last couple of years has been “frustrating” would be an understatement and it’s therefore not surprising that a great many Treonauts have simply given up and unfortunately made the move to the iPhone or BlackBerry. 

Having said this, I believe that it’s certainly not too late for Palm to win back the hearts, minds and wallets of the millions of “smartphoniacs” that are due to come on the market in the coming years.  The fact is that smartphones continue to be the fastest growing segment in the mobile industry and one day everybody will surely have one.  If Palm plays its next cards right then many of these people will undoubtedly choose one of its Treo, Centro or Quatro smartphones.

See Related Posts:
Palm Nova OS Details
An Apple In Your Palm

Matias Duarte now developing Palm’s next-gen UI [via engadget]

Treonauts never give up fighting…

Posted by Andrew on July 8, 2008 at 12:33 PM

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by Branedy | Jul 8, 2008 5:48:07 PM

I'm too am looking forward to the new os, hoping that it will work on my new T/X is probably too much to ask. But I'd look forward to a newer device, better than what you have pictured here. For to compete against the iPhone, it will have to be fantastic not just an upgrade.

by Felix | Jul 8, 2008 6:10:26 PM

Why does Palm insist on making the screens smaller when it is clear that consumers want the opposite: a larger screen. For the record I love my Treo and all it would take for me not to buy the 3g iPhone is for Palm to introduce a device like this:

1. Thinner than the Treos/Centros (hint: like the iPhone...DAH!).

2. Multi touch Technology and a better browser to go with it.

3. Larger screen (hint-- keep the QWERTY keyboard but eliminate the buttons above the keyboard...not needed with multi touch technology like that of the iPhone; AND widen the screen to the edges like the iPhone).

4. Keep ALL else the same.

Is that too much to ask?

Oh, and call it the SUPER phone.

by Steve | Jul 8, 2008 11:28:53 PM

Wishlist for next gen Treo with Palm OS:
- 3G
- Wifi a/b/g/n
- Built-in GPS

That's it. Keep everything else the same, and I'll upgrade my current Treo 680 in a heartbeat.

by tommy | Jul 8, 2008 11:51:53 PM

Got a kick out of the photoshop phones.

My wish list is also for a larger screen, wifi, 3g, multi-tasking and something I have not seen before..."windows". I sometimes find my self wishing I could see information on small windows when on the phone. Meaning, being able to alt-tab a small window onto the phone control screen and see both screens at the same time. I guess this would require multi-tasking, multi-touch control, and a large enough screen.

Just an idea.

by E Stigall | Jul 9, 2008 12:21:18 AM

I am proud to say that I am on my 5th generation of the palm pda (600, 650, 700p, 755p, and centro), but I am sad to say that I am fed up with palms extreamly slow development. Its like they are not aware of the environment around them. Just like someone stated before, all it would take for me to stay is for palm to produce a copetative pda. But unmentioned earlier, I would like to have a sliding qwerty keyboard. I too have been shoping myself around for a new manufacturer, and I believe I have found just the right replacement, the HTC TOUCH PRO!!!!!!!!!! Hey guys check it out, It looks great!!!!!! It should make it to the States by Sept.....

by ria | Jul 9, 2008 2:10:49 AM

I love the photoshopped Palm Quatro v0.1 and would get that in a heartbeat if it does come out. My main gripe with Palm, being a Mac User, is the buggy integration between OS 10.4 and Palm. Datebook categories aren't copied into iCal. But if the integration will be seamless in the future, I will be really happy because I still love Palm despite the Jurassic-ness of the units.

by femaad | Jul 9, 2008 4:49:53 AM

i now have a treo 680, and have been using palm OS PDAs/phones since 1999. i don't intend to upgrade since treo 680 is working well for me.

but now that i've seen the samsung omnia, i am so tempted to change! if only the new palm would have samsung omnia's specs, then looks of iPod or LG prada phone, and maintain palm OS (instead of windows), wowowee!!!

by GabVoice | Jul 9, 2008 7:14:57 PM

The comments from Felix express my exact sentiments.

"Larger screen (hint-- keep the QWERTY keyboard but eliminate the buttons above the keyboard...not needed with multi touch technology like that of the iPhone; AND widen the screen to the edges like the iPhone)."

Can you (Treonauts) survey the users and find howmany would give up the hard navigation buttons in favor of LARGER SCREEN? Then send the survey to Palm as a petition from the "Users Union"?

by JayB | Jul 9, 2008 9:23:10 PM

Felix's post, #2 above, is right on the button. I was comparing the face of the 30GB Zune to my Treo and I would love a Treo with such a screen size and hard keyboard. Of course, 3G, GPS, gigabyte size memory, an excellent browser and wifi are absolute musts, but hopefully they won't totally change the Treo concept. Oh, and I trust they will bring back the Foleo which I think will threaten every single notebook & laptop. Witness the Asus eee which is essentially a Foleo minus the Palm.

by JayB | Jul 9, 2008 9:23:56 PM

Felix's post, #2 above, is right on the button. I was comparing the face of the 30GB Zune to my Treo and I would love a Treo with such a screen size and hard keyboard. Of course, 3G, GPS, gigabyte size memory, an excellent browser and wifi are absolute musts, but hopefully they won't totally change the Treo concept. Oh, and I trust they will bring back the Foleo which I think will threaten every single notebook & laptop. Witness the Asus eee which is essentially a Foleo minus the Palm.

by ummmm | Jul 10, 2008 11:21:17 AM

So basically what everyone is saying is they want an iPhone, but think that Palm will someday make a modern smartphone that works. haha keep dreaming!

by dgarts | Jul 10, 2008 4:19:11 PM

I thought I was beginning to sound like a broken record (only those of age and experience will get that) but both Felix and JayB not only beat me to it but prove that I may be crazy, but I'm not alone.

BIGGER $%&^#!@ screen please.

by dgarts | Jul 10, 2008 4:24:33 PM

Gabvoice is with the program, too.

Let's say it again, all together now...



by eja | Jul 10, 2008 7:01:18 PM

Yes to bigger screen! Hopefully Palm is listening.

Using the web with a ~1.6" x 1.6" Centro-sized screen is unpleasant. The 755p's screen isn't much of an improvement at only ~1.74" x 1.74" while an iPhone is 2" x3". Palm's old Tungsten C with keyboard was 2.25" x 2.25" and it was still a reasonable pocket size, although at 0.74" thick, it's too much of a handful compared to the iPhone at 0.48". Try cutting out paper pieces to above-noted sizes and you'll better appreciate the dimensions.

And to ummmm: I don't think everybody wants an iPhone. Apple's iCal still isn't as good as Palm's calendar functionality. Unlike Palm, iCal's To Do list can't handle complexity. There's no assignment of categories or locations to tasks; i.e. 'contexts' for the Getting Things Done folks. Palm's old software vision is still pretty good, but their hardware must have bigger screens and thinner footprints. I'd even tolerate a battery bulge if it remains easy to swap batteries (something that iPhone2 doesn't allow). Hopefully Palm will figure out how to sync with .mac (now mobileme) and include Notes. Since Apple's pitching it to Windows Exchange users, there should be a way.

by Saalik | Jul 11, 2008 7:11:30 AM

Palm is a better OS. I have a palm and a windows OS Treo and think the Palm OS is more reliable.
Yes to a bigger screen but DO NOT go totally Windows.
The Zen of Palm is still with us.

by R.I.P. Palm OS | Jul 11, 2008 4:29:07 PM

Is Palm OS still limited to only FIFTEEN "categories" after all these years?

If so, Palm continues to fail.

Good luck to their new OS, they haven't fixed or maintained their so-called current OS for years.

What's more incredible, that Palm thinks they can build a new OS to save their company, or that Palm users believe it?


by kim schoneck | Jul 13, 2008 1:12:23 AM

Does anyone know which wireless carrier will have the Quattro, or Quatreo? I have Verizon, and it seems they never get the good phones right away, it takes a year or so. I like the Palm 755, but would wait if Verizon will get the new Palm.


by David Kunkel | Jul 18, 2008 9:48:54 AM

1. Larger, at least 640x320. Orientation-switching.
2. Hard keyboard. Slider, flipper, whatever-er.
5. GPS--or at least tower-based triangulation--for Google Maps.
6. Palm's still-elegant OS, maybe reskinned, certainly retweaked, but not discarded.

That's the recipe for an iPod killer. I don't think you need wi-fi if you have a data plan, and I don't trust wi-fi security.

by ZAHADUM | Jul 23, 2008 4:20:19 AM

1) yep, that's alot of new firepower for palm ...

frankly, i am surprised these guys came out of retirement to join a company that has had the worst possible management in the industry (and technology that is even more mediocre than msft windows, if that is possible to imagine!).

what do the SEC filings say about how much stock they were awarded to join such a sinking ship?!

2) as for the delusional comment by another poster that the crappy palmOS is really good! ...

i have a TX lying around (while i wait for the 3G iphone to arrive on back-order) - and the damn thing freezes &crashes & hangs all the time!


and yep, the mac support for palm desktop totally sucks - here is a sample of the gotchas:

* i can not upgrade the ROM/OS via usb (let alone over the air);

* the installer is broken (so there is some some weird manual PC shit is involved to install java ...which is required to use the sweet, sweet Opera browser);

* the bookmarks can NOT be synced to pc/mac desktop via BT or USB or wifi ... and the IR beaming for bookmarks only transmits them (one at a time) to another PALM! --- so basically, ESSENTIAL data is forever orphaned on the palm!

(how could it not be obvious, as soon as apple demo'd FrontRow, that there would be an opportunity for an omni-purpose IR:USB hub, given the 10-20M installed base of Tiger users who would inherit this feature when it became bundled with Leopard?!)

3) platform versitility is the only the only thing that can save PALM ...

(the only reason i even have the TX is to test whether a legacy SEIKO "smart pen" accersory will still work - i spent $400 on both versions of the SEIKO gear on the undersstanding from SEIKO marketing that they would ship an SDK (so that i could create mac drivers) ... but SEIKO just rolled up & died without any followup by PALM to assume control over vital orphaned technology such as the "smartpen/smartpad"! ... i would be inclined to stick with the Palm platform if i could actually be certain that legacy Palm accersories would have new drivers - written by palm if isv/oem's could not be persuaded to opensource their abandonware.)

(however, the new generation of smart pens makes the whole nightmare of Palm-based accessories a moot point --- the livescribe.com smartpen (which is an anato-based product) is lightyears ahead of the clumsy seiko pen, and it will soon have mac drivers! ... though bizarrely, not iphone/itouch/ipod drivers!)

if palm wants to compete against the iphone then it needs to do stuff that is different than apple's NIMBY thinking:

* an open "dock" policy (apple restricts its hardware oem's from having a pass-through port: only one device - to the exclusion of all others - can be connected at one time. That is really dumb.

* an pro-active policy for integrating as many I/O peripherals as possible, eg:

... apple missed a golden opportunity in the note-taking category or simple field recording studio or DJ-ing etc, when it shipped an audio recording chip with ipods but no support for mics! ...

or likewise, apple refused to create simple usb drivers for the ipod to make it a host device for direct streaming input from digital cameras or flatbed scanners

... and the obvious example of being a TV or PC remcon (cf front row, above).

The bottomline is that Palm's only chance for survival (only 5% of consumers plan to purchase a Palm vs 50% for iphone) is to do all the stuff that doesnt fit into the blinkered thinking at apple, BB, winmob ...

given that there are now two credible opensource platforms (symbian & android), there must be something inherently better about palm for it to even be considered let alone for it to thrive.

i think that there are only two of the three big content domains left untapped by apple:

* games: interactivity doesnt have alot of upside remaining in it if apple displaces psp (unless they can dream up a new category of gaming like the wii did).

* ebooks: a no-brainer! ... apple has completely neglected the whole area of small tablet form-factors, especially suitable for the educational & creative professional markets ... this is in turn related to apple's NIMBY attitude towards smartpen input, and the complete absence of any CBT technology (for over a decade!) at apple.

* HIG: apple has totally ignored speech recognition & systhesis - which is vital for both the HUGE (multi-billion dollar) second-language learning marketplace, as well as for the huge tourguide & real estate advertising marketplaces (also multi-billion dollars being left on the table).

But what Palm really needs is a post-content strategy!

Palm should hook up with content powerhouses like yahoo & amazon that need to have a unique mobile presence -- if these content platforms are willing to outflank google by investing seriously in the deep OIL+DAML technologies required to power the semantic web.

The real future of content (and not just search) is AGENTS and agent-based languages ... so ironically the future for palm is not to get former apple execs ,,, it is to get a much more rarified kind of apple exec, namely the former GENERAL MAGIC execs who specialized in the ground-breaking agent language Telescript (google already has snagged one of these fellows, Andy Rubin, to lead the gphone) --

what is CRUCIAL to understand going forward is that what people really want from their (mobile) devices is not just (another) better abstraction of the machine, or even better design of information (which is apple's forte): rather what will cause people to sit up & take notice of a failing brand like Palm is the availability of useful abstractions of /knowledge/ - which means agents (fortunately unlike the first attempt of Telescript, which was hobbled by the dinosaur partners at the telecoms like ATT, today's SOA could smoothly slide over policy managers for MPLS or on ATM).

Palm is too small & its technology track record is too mediocre for it to come back on the strength of the new heavy-hitters on its bench: it needs to find a new model that admits big partners whose cloud ambitions against apple, microsoft & google are large enough to warrant serious investments that can deliver a game-changing paradigm shift.

in the case of yahoo, the obvious example is for it to buy up the yellow pages franchises! - and then use the new palm as an agent-based edge delivery platform that intelligently unites together buyers & sellers (this requires a serious use of KIF to support vendor microformats) - in other words, yahoo could leave the commodity dredging business to google, and focus on the premium mass-customization market ... to be delivered on a palm as the preferred gizmo of choice (the price of this smartphone will need to be subsidized by a share of the CPM that is a give-back to the consumer .... note: in the future it will become the norm that consumer's will be entitled to participate in the monetization of their own data whenever it is aggregated, data-mined, filtered, or re-personalized!).

in other words, palm shouldnt be looking at the carriers to subsidize the price of handsets like apple & rim do; they should be looking at content providers to provide the subsidy for the device (note: yahoo as a media company is not the same thing as google as an advertising company - they are on different sides of the coin viz content, so their business models should not be conflated).

a yahoo/palm alliance is different from a google/gphone platform inasmuch as in the former the end-user begins to become an active participant in how his purchasing power is monetized - whereas in the google version he is passive (and in the apple version he is not present (because apple is oriented to a subscription model); whereas in the microsoft relationship, purchasing power is antagonistically opposed by a company that will try to fleece him at every turn - not much news there).

plam needs to step outside the box & offer a new category -- not just for the user experience, but for the whole idea of consumption itself.

it is commonplace to say that technology transforms the way we work; however the correlative of that notion is often missing - namely, how can technology transform the way we consume ,,,, and not in some trivial way (such as which API or which brand gets the most eyeballs or the best stickiness for one-stop shopping) but rather in a way that transforms the underlying social & economic power relations for the consumer; in a way that the consumer can retain his autonomy & his privacy, in a way in which technology does not alienate man from his identity (which is a key part of the modern Capital in this our information age).

(these are two qualities which are better served in an agent paradigm because the equity they require between producers & consumers is much more reliably expressed through the application of Beliefs, Desires, and Intentions (BDI) than it can be expressed in an advertising-driven paradigm ... game-theory relies upon an organized system of GUESSWORK to compute any reactive equilibrium, whereas HOL's (higher order logics) used by serious agent languages (ie equipped with an LTL) have the advantage of relying upon CERTAINTY to calculate the impact of one's behavior upon the whole system.

The singular UI experience on the mac is called the 'Finder'; if Palm is to have an enduring impact then it must create a new singular UI experience for the nexgen cloud - maybe it will be called the 'Getter'.

(i think that the moniker of the 'Decider' has already been taken - and by forces that are certainly hostile to precisely the kind of individual freedom to be associated with the new Palm platform, at that! ;-)

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