Brighthand’s Predictions for 2006

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A new year is starting, and Brighthand is going to carry out its long-running tradition of making some predictions for what’s going to come down the pipe in the next twelve months.

Just like last year, contributing writer Shawn Barnett has chimed in with some of his thoughts.

The Penguin Is Coming At You

There’s no doubt that the big news in the Palm OS world will be the version of this operating system based on Linux which will be released around the middle of this year.

Shawn is going way out on a limb by predicting that all current Palms with Intel processors will be able to upgrade.

I’m also taking a bit of a risk by saying that the first Linux-based Palms will be out by the end of 2006, and at least one of these will be from Palm, Inc.

Speaking of new hardware, Shawn thinks that a much slimmer version of the LifeDrive that includes gigabytes of Flash storage, not a microdrive, will be introduced.

I believe a follow-up for the LifeDrive is virtually certain, but I’m guessing it will have a 6 GB mini hard drive.

Shawn also predicts that Palm will release a Treo with 1 GB of internal storage.

Clash of the Titans

Microsoft has already said that it will introduce a small update for Windows Mobile 5.0 sometime soon, but I’m not expecting to see Windows Mobile 6.0 until next year.

I’m sure we’ll see a bunch of cool new Pocket PCs and Smartphones out in 2006, but I think the real news is going to be the battle between some models that have already been announced but not yet shipped.

There’ll be plenty of people having a hard time choosing between the HP iPAQ hw6700, the Motorola Q, and the Treo 700. While somewhat similar, each of these offers features not included in the others.

Sales of devices like these are going to increase significantly this year, while the number of traditional handhelds sold will drop.

That’s why I think Dell with ship its first smartphone in 2006.

I’m also hoping it will come out with the hard-drive based Pocket PC that was rumored for last year.

2005 Predictions Even if Dell doesn’t, Shawn is predicting that Palm will follow up its first Windows Mobile device with other Pocket PCs, including a version of the LifeDrive.

Lawsuits in Motion

Research in Motion’s long-running patent-infringement lawsuit with NTP is drawing to a close, and Shawn and I have diametrically opposed opinions on how it’s going to come out.

We agree that NTP’s patents that are at the heart of the case will be declared invalid, but Shawn thinks that this will come too late to prevent the court from shutting down the BlackBerry service in the U.S.

I doubt that this is going to happen. I think the case will be thrown out, or at the very least RIM will cave in and pay NTP its blood money. The BlackBerry service won’t be affected.

Aside from that, RIM’s devices will continue to sell like hot-cakes in 2006.

In coming years it might be a different story. A whole bunch of big companies are working hard to take RIM’s business away.

I’m Ready for My Closeup

No matter what kind of mobile device you carry, expect to be bombarded this year with different ways to watch video on it.

Apple has shown that people really do want to watch TV shows on a small, portable device, and plenty of other big-name companies are scrambling to catch up.

Near the top of this list is Nokia, who has declared mobile video to be a top priority for this year. If you get an S60 smartphone this year, expect it to come with some kind of service for viewing TV shows.

You can definitely expect some mobile video related announcements this week at the CES show, but these will be just the first of many.

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