By Steve Niles
The PalmSource developer's conference is perhaps the biggest event of the year for Palm, Inc. This year, it was held December 12-15 in Santa Clara, CA at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The more than 3,000 attendees used the conference to network with other consumer, Web, and education developers, licensees, enterprise managers and solution providers, IT managers, VARs and system integrators, as well as key members of the Palm marketing, engineering, and executive teams.
The event naturally garnered a good deal of press, which the PalmPower Enterprise News Center, at http://www.palmpowerenterprise.com/news/news.html, diligently monitored, because so much of the news was enterprise-related. Palm made a number of exciting announcements over the course of the week, and we thought it would be valuable to review them here for those of you who weren't aware of, or didn't get a chance to check, the daily news updates.
Things got off to a great start as Palm's Chief Executive Officer Carl Yankowski delivered a keynote address to kick off the first day. The biggest announcement was, of course, the version 4.0 of the Palm OS. The new version supports 16-bit color, USB connections, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. The fun didn't stop there, however. Yankowski also hinted at Palm OS version 5.0, which will allow for a higher resolution screen.
In the address, Yankowski laid out his vision for handheld computing and announced several other important new technology plans and relationships. Among Yankowski's announcements were the following:
- A range of new wireless modems and integrated wireless handhelds are scheduled for the Palm platform, which will allow you to access most of the world's major wireless networks, including CDPD, CDMA, GSM, GPRS, PDC, and Mobitex;
- Samsung became a new licensee of the Palm OS platform, and the company is developing a new Palm OS-based smartphone due to be released in the first half of 2001;
- The Palm Economy Association will debut later in the year, to be led by independently elected officers.
Also in his keynote address, Yankowski outlined a six-part, near-term vision for the company. First, he believes it's Palm's heritage to provide a world-class PIM (Personal Information Manager). Further, Palm is taking its PIM to the Internet. Palm has recently acquired AnyDay.com and is leveraging this acquisition by creating the MyPalm portal, which will include wireless email, online calendar synchronization, browsing, Web searching, and an array of online content and services. The MyPalm portal became available on December 26, 2000 and is available free of charge at http://www.palm.net.
In what Yankowski described as Communication Phase 1, Palm will extend its existing email solutions to include message notification, instant messaging, and seamless access to Microsoft Exchange email. All this is set to take place in 2001. In Communication Phase 2, Palm plans to add voice to the mix. This will first be done via telephony. In fact, Kyocera and Handspring already sell Palm OS-based smartphones, and Palm is working with them and Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung to develop next-generation smartphones. The Kyocera Smartphone is pictured in Figure A.