PalmSource Has a Mysterious New Licensee

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Sony’s departure from the handheld market was a bad blow to PalmSource. Since the Clie line disappeared, the number of Palm OS devices being shipped has declined, and PalmSource’s revenue has likewise declined.

Yesterday, though, the company’s CEO made an announcement that could help remedy this situation.

“I’m pleased to announce that we’ve signed a Tier 1 handset manufacturer to a world-wide license for Palm OS,” said Patrick McVeigh.

However, McVeigh declined to reveal who this company is, although he promised to do so when he had permission from the licensee.

What’s almost certainly happening is that the two companies are still negotiating the details of the licensing contract, and so there’s still a possibility, however remote, that the agreement could fall apart.

Nevertheless, PalmSource wanted to go ahead and make the announcement, as it was a bright spot in the company’s otherwise gloomy report of its most recent financial quarter.

Don’t Expect Handhelds

Although the name of the licensee wasn’t revealed, McVeigh made it clear that this is a mobile phone maker, so it’s virtually certain this company won’t be making handhelds.

However, it has not been revealed whether its Palm OS devices will be smartphones or feature phones. Since its acquisition of China MobileSoft last year, PalmSource has been working on versions of the Palm OS for both kinds of mobile phones.

When McVeigh was asked what version of the Palm OS the new licensee would be using, he declined to say.

On Track to Linux

PalmSource is now exclusively focused on developing two Linux-based versions of the Palm OS: one for smartphones, and the other for feature phones.

The smartphone version will be given to licensees in the first half of 2006, and the other one will be released next summer.

It is not known if the new licensee will wait until these are ready before releasing its first device.

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