I read an interesting post on The Verge today: The Lost Secrets of WebOS. For those not familiar with WebOS, it was Palm’s last gasp before HP finally killed it. The article makes a brief mention of upcoming LG TVs that will run WebOS before launching into an interesting discussion of the software’s history.
I was a heavy Palm user back in the day, and it’s interesting to realize that the whole Palm ecosystem is virtually extinct. Hardware, software, accessories, app stores (before today’s current app store model came into existence) – all gone.
That actually makes me think of some housecleaning I did a few weeks ago. It was time to go through my password app and clear out those old usernames and passwords I no longer use. Of course there were logins for a number of Palm-related apps and services that don’t exist anymore. There was an online game from a major entertainment company, a library service from a major content provider, and even services such as Gowalla and Meebo. Of course the last one made me think about all the services that Google has developed or acquired and then terminated.
When the (conservative) housecleaning was complete, I had deleted over 40 usernames. I could probably delete at least that many more without much effort. For me it was an interesting reminder of the rise and fall of tech services. Ars Technica has an interesting and somewhat related article: Ars deathwatch 2014: Companies on the edge of relevance.
A lot of the “free” apps available for the iPhone are ad-supported, so as you tap away on the device you are confronted by a host of ads with various levels of intrusiveness (depending upon how nice the developer is). I recently downloaded an app called Dots Free. The ads in this one are small text bars that display at the bottom of the screen. Not very intrusive at all really, so it was just kind of happenstance that I noticed one of the ads invited me to check out the new Palm Pre. Right there . . . embedded in my iPhone app . . . a Palm Pre ad. Too funny. Now of course Apple isn’t running this ad, but given the animosity between the two companies, I found this decidedly amusing.
Sometimes you need a little chuckle. And I still think the Pre is a pretty cool device. 😉
Seems like every couple of days we’re hearing more about data in the cloud. I’ve thought about this one in considering the iPhone, and I’m still thinking about it as I read more about the Palm Pre. One of my biggest gripes about the iPhone has to do with synching data across multiple computers. I do this all the time with my old Palm Treo. I drop it in a cradle attached to my desktop computer, I drop it into a cradle attached to my home desktop, and I connect it to a cable attached to my laptop. The frequency varies, but the long and short of it is that if I’m in a network dead zone and I need to get something from a computer onto my handheld (or vice versa), I can connect a cable, push a button, and I’m done. Not so with the iPhone. If I need to sync data across multiple computers with the iPhone, I have to subscribe to Apple’s $99 per year MobileMe service. Even after subscribing to that service I wouldn’t be able to sync the way I want to: I can’t simply connect the two devices with a cable and push a button. MobileMe depends upon having a network connection so that my data can copy itself to Apple’s server in the cloud. Eventually the updates trickle across the network to the other computers. As I read more about the Palm Pre and Palm’s new WebOS, it seems that this device will follow the same path, and that disappoints me.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I simply may not want some of my data to live in the cloud. Yet I still need to synchronize with multiple computers. What’s a person to do then? But ignoring the fact that I don’t want all of my data to live in the cloud, there are other considerations. I live in an area with MANY network dead zones, so it simply isn’t always even possible to sync data. Let’s think about travelers. Do you really want to pay for an hour’s worth of network time in every airport you pass through just to keep all your data synchronized? Probably not.
I’m trying to keep an open mind about cloud data and apps. Some people love it, and it works well for them. That’s great for those people, but it shouldn’t come at a cost in functionality. If data synchronization with the cloud is just another option, then that’s a good way to go. Nothing wrong with giving people options. But why take away functionality that already works? Don’t do it, Palm!
So . . . About a week ago Palm unveiled the Pre at CES. Their newest phone garnered a lot of press and blog space, and for the Palm faithful who desperately hoped that the company would knock one out of the park, it was a moment of dreams finally fulfilled. Well . . . almost. So far there is no firm delivery date. The price hasn’t even been set yet, so customers can’t even pre-order the device. Ha! Get it? Pre? They can’t PRE-order the Pre. Anywho . . .
What started off as a major event that turned a lot of heads has rapidly descended to a dull murmur, and that’s really too bad for Palm. I have only seen photos and videos of the device, but it looks good. Most reviewers have been genuinely enthusiastic, and some have raved about this new phone. With all that good press, it’s a shame that Palm doesn’t have a product ready to ship. I’m ready to give it a try. Of course we would all prefer a product that is as bug-free as possible, so I can certainly understand waiting until it’s actually ready, but I’m sure Palm would like to capitalize on all the positive buzz their unveiling generated.
Over the last month many articles have lauded Palm as the company that essentially built the handheld market. Their PDAs were mainstays for many years. Unfortunately, as other companies entered the market and pushed it forward with new innovations, Palm struggled to hold its place. The company lost ground as its own product lines stagnated – a fact highlighted by the emergence of RIM’s BlackBerry, Apple’s iPhone, and a plethora of Windows Mobile devices.
There is always room for competition in the marketplace. The iPhone, Blackberry, and Android products seems to be spurring each other along nicely. However, in the past Palm has contributed well-designed hardware and software, so another solid OS would be a good addition to the mix. Let’s hope Palm can get something to market before they are completely irrelevant.
So now Palm has jumped on the software store bandwagon. In an interesting move (interesting to me, at least), Palm has announced a new mobile software store. I find this interesting for a couple of reasons. First, Apple has already done it. Google has also already done it for Android. So why is Palm now getting in the game?
This strategy has worked well for Apple. Palm may be thinking this is the wave of the future for delivering software to users. Of course, that’s assuming that Palm actually has a future. However, given Palm’s dismal outlook, the creation of the mobile software store is certainly an act of optimism.
However, perhaps it’s more than an act of optimism. It could be an act of supreme confidence based on Palm’s expected reception of their new OS and hardware. January will tell.