Smart Phone Version of Palm OS 5 Coming Next Year

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Even after the release of Palm OS 6, PalmSource will continue development of Palm OS 5. A version specially suited to smart phones is being developed.

Those familiar with the Palm OS platform should be aware that licensees regularly offer smart phones running older versions of the operating system. For example, Handspring’s Treo line currently uses Palm OS 3.5, even though the operating system has had two major upgrades since that one.

Rather than discouraging this, PalmSource is going to release a special version of Palm OS 5 for smart phones which won’t even be available until after Palm OS 6 has been given to licensees, according to Computer Business Review.

While Palm OS 6 will be appropriate for handhelds and high-end smart phones, PalmSource says the lower hardware requirements and maturity of Palm OS 5 will make it better suited for low-cost smart phones.

Speaking at his company’s developer conference in Munich, David Nagel, PalmSource CEO, said, “OS 5 is so small and compact we think we can get down to a lower price point and higher volume. We think these devices will over time come down to under $200.”

During his interview with Brighthand last spring, Mr. Nagel spoke of the necessity of getting the price of smart phones down below $200 in order for these devices to become more widely used.

Of course, companies that want to use OS 5 in smart phones don’t have to wait for this new version. In fact, both Handspring and Samsung have announced handsets running OS 5 which will be available soon. However, a good deal of customization work is required to make OS 5 ready for a smart phone. The new version will make this process easier and less expensive. PalmSource gave no details but, among other changes, it will probably include software that will act as a virtual keypad. Currently, companies using Palm OS 5 in smart phones have to write their own applications for this if they need one.

PalmSource would commit itself to an exact release date, only saying the smart phone version of Palm OS 5 will be released some time next year.

The company announced yesterday that the final version of Palm OS 6 would be given to licensees on December 29.

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