Arguably Palm is considered to be the company that started the smart phone trend. Initially Palm was just a maker of hand-held computers or PDAs. Later they merged the PDA to the cell phone and thus was born the smart phone in the form of the iconic Palm Treo lineup. Ironically, even though global adoption of smart phones has increased over the years, Palm’s market share has seen a steady decline.
With more and more smart phone vendors offering PDA capabilities in their phones, Palm’s niche PDA market saw a steep decline. The company faced tough times and even sold off their software division. Later they re-acquired the same. For the past few years Palm is going through a very rough patch.
This is very surprising for a company that has a brilliant team of technical experts and who have in the past created superb products for the mobile professionals. To get back to a healthy state Palm even started making smart phones based on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform. Though this helped the company it did nothing to reinstate it in its former state of glory. Of late with the Centro smart phone, Palm saw some success. They followed it up very recently with the Palm Treo Pro that was received well by the consumers. However the Treo Pro was running on the Windows platform – not something with which you would expect to set the market ablaze.
For quite some time now, Palm has been reported to be working on its next generation operating system based on the Linux platform. Known as the Nova, its still away from seeing production by at least a year. The bigger question is would Palm’s fortunes turn around with Nova, now that we have multiple mobile operating systems in the market? Operating systems like Apple’s Mac OS, Nokia’s Symbian, etc. have gained a lot of popularity. RIM’s Blackberry is still supposed to be the be-all and end-all of smart phones. And the latest entrant in this field is Google with its Android operating system.
So does it make sense for Palm to spend time and money after its Nova? Wouldn’t it be more prudent to just take Android and then work your magic on it? I sincerely believe that Palm should try to embrace Android. Not only is it backed by a powerhouse like Google, but it provides an extendible platform on which Palm can start building its next generation of applications. For Android Palm would not have to pay any licensing fees since its open source.
Palm has the capability and the prowess to turn around by embracing the Android platform. The question is will it?