Linux and PalmSource

Andrew Carton writes about the acquisition of China MobileSoft (CMS) by PalmSource:

Following this announcement, some people commented that they saw PalmSource’s move to Linux as a final ‘desperate’ attempt to rescue the company’s fledging fortunes. For my part, I view it as a very smart and exciting strategic move and one that I envisage will completely and positively transform PalmSource, the PalmOS and the Palm community at large.

Perhaps some of the negative comments stem from the fact that until now PalmSource’s software has been synonymous with “PDA” software. Since the PDA market is now stagnant or in decline, people have thus viewed the future of the company as uncertain. However, I believe that PalmSource’s strategic move has not been analyzed in the right context, nor been given the benefit of some imagination and overall misses to identify significant future opportunities.

if future opportunites for PalmSource are not to be found in its traditional PDA niche where will they be? My answer: the PalmOS will be everywhere there is a need to power handheld devices. Mobile Phones, MP3 Players, Portable Movie Players, Portable Game Players, Digital Cameras and eBooks are but some of these handheld devices.

Across the world, there are three industries that manufacture and need the software to power these handheld devices and PalmSource could become a key partner to all of them.

First there is the mobile phone industry and palmOne, Samsung, GSPda and Qool are but a few of its existing licensees in this space. Nokia, Motorola, LG, SonyEricsson meanwhile are among the leading worldwide manufacturers.

Second is the consumer electronics industry with behemoths such as Sony, Samsung, Philips and RCA who typically produce most if not all of the previously listed handheld devices. An increasing number of small independent players typically develop just a few of these handheld devices.

Third is the computer industry with players such as Dell, HP, IBM, Sony and Apple who have developed PDA’s and/or MP3 Players and have shown (to the exception of IBM) a strong interest in expanding their reach across the consumer electronics market.

However, as you will have undoubtedly noticed, something revolutionary is happening across these three industries. Namely, they are “converging” and increasingly competing across each others’ boundaries. Apple, a computer company, develops the iPod, a consumer electronics device. Dell does the same. Nokia, a mobile phone company, develops the nGage, also a consumer electronics device. These are but a few of the largest representative examples but the trend is growing rapidly and new players seem to appear almost on a daily basis.

The name typically associated with this revolution is Digital Convergence. I believe that it opens gigantic new opportunities for PalmSource and its move to Linux will significantly help the company in its efforts to exploit these.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.