Gartner Bullish on PalmSource Acquisition

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Earlier this month, Access Co., Ltd, announced that it is going to acquire PalmSource, the company responsible for developing the Palm OS.

Todd Kort and Ken Dulaney, analysts for market-research firm Gartner, believe that this is good news for Palm OS users and for Palm, the biggest Palm OS licensee.

In a research note, the two pointed out that Access has the money needed to complete Palm OS for Linux, the next major version of this operating system. Without Access’ additional resources, they believe that PalmSource would not have been able to complete this project.

Mistakes Were Made

The Gartner analysts think that, although PalmSource has made mistakes in the past, it is now back on track.

“The development of Palm OS took a wrong turn when Palm acquired Be in August 2001,” wrote Kort and Dulaney. “Be’s software team led the development of Palm OS 6, also known as Cobalt. It was released to developers in December 2003, but no one has ever produced Cobalt devices. This has left PalmSource well behind its rivals, with Palm OS 5, known as Garnet, showing its age.

However, since that time, work has started on Palm OS for Linux, which the analysts believe will be what PalmSource should have been working on all the time: a low-end operating system, capable of running on a smartphone that costs less than $100.

As Kort and Dulaney point out, Access is hoping it can use the millions of Palm OS users and the large number of applications written for the Palm OS to create a smartphone platform that can compete successfully against Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Symbian.

Access is well positioned to compete in Asia, but has also saddled itself with the $324 million it paid for PalmSource.

Kort and Dulaney suggest the enterprises that are already committed to the Palm OS should stick with it, as Access will continue to support Palm OS Garnet and Palm OS for Linux will be out next year.

On the other hand, they recommend that companies that are just now considering smartphones should look elsewhere, at least until Palm OS on Linux is available.

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