• apple,  editorial,  iphone

    EU to Mandate Replaceable Batteries by 2027

    While flipping through Mastodon on Sunday morning, I saw a toot linking to an article on Mashable.com written by Cecily Mauran covering a new European Union legislation that all batteries sold in devices must be end-user replaceable by 2027 and contain 80% recycled materials by 2031.

    There are two benefits to this new regulation as I see it.

    1. Foster customer right to repair efforts to reduce e-waste
    2. Conserve and recycle natural resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions

    Directive 2008/98/EC and Regulation (EU) 2019/1020

    The new law is part of Directive 2008/98/EC and Regulation (EU) 2019/1020. In the updating of the Directive and Regulation, Directive 2006/66/EC is now considered repealed.

    The legislation rightly identifies the growing global demand for batteries as a long-term trend.

    “In view of the strategic importance of batteries, to provide legal certainty to all operators involved and to avoid discrimination, barriers to trade and distortions on the market for batteries, it is necessary to set out rules on the sustainability, performance, safety, collection, recycling and second life of batteries as well as on information about batteries for end-users and economic operators. It is necessary to create a harmonised regulatory framework for dealing with the entire life cycle of batteries that are placed on the market in the Union.”

    The legislation also states that laws governing the management of waste batteries must also be updated “to protect the environment and human health by preventing or reducing the adverse impacts” of batteries.

    As someone who support climate science and initiatives to reduce carbon emissions that are warming the earth, I applaud the EU’s effort to build a sustainable circular battery supply chain.

    EU Regulatory Impacts to iPhone

    But what about us here in the United States? In my opinion, the absolute breakdown of the Congress to actually negotiate on bills and pass legislation means that there will be no unified federal regulations about battery reuse on par with the EU’s efforts. Rather, we here in the US will be left with a patchwork effort by states and corporations to advance greenhouse gas emission reduction and meaningful recycling programs.

    To understand the impact to us here in the United States, I looked to another EU regulation, making USB-C the common device charging standard.

    While this regulation does not directly apply to the US, it is an open secret at this point that Apple will finally switch the iPhone to USB-C, replacing the Lightning port after an 11-year run. It is cheaper for Apple to switch the iPhone to USB-C than to try and maintain a USB-C iPhone to be sold in the EU and a Lightning iPhone to be sold everywhere else. In other words, there is a financial incentive for Apple to get on board with USB-C for charging and sync’ing data. I applaud this decision as the iPhone is effectively the only electronic device that I use daily that does not already use USB-C for charging. In my opinion, the move to USB-C from Lightning on the iPhone was long overdue.

    It’s easy to get behind an EU ruling when you agree with the position they are taking. But what about rulings that you don’t agree with? Am I as willing to accept that EU rules can change the iPhone I use every day in a detrimental way? Let’s take a more reasoned approach to my initial thinking.

    User Replaceable Batteries Alone Won’t Make iPhone Thicker

    My first reaction to this new EU regulation was, “I don’t want a thicker, heavier iPhone”. My mind instantly went to the Palm Treo 700p, the Blackberry Curve 8330, and Android devices. They were all like carrying around bricks when set down on a table next to the original 2007 iPhone.

    Consider the thickness (depth) of these mobile devices:

    Palm Treo 700p (2006)0.89″181g
    Apple iPhone (2007)0.46″136g
    BlackBerry Curve 8330 (2007)0.59″113g
    Apple iPhone 6 (2014)0.27″129g
    Apple iPhone 6 Plus (2014)0.28″189g
    Apple iPhone XS Max (2018)0.30″208g
    Google Pixel 6 (2021)0.4″207g
    Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (2022)0.31″240g
    Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (2022)0.35″228g

    Having reached what I call “Peak Thinness” with 2014’s iPhone 6 and the ridiculous “bendgate controversey” that went along with it, I cheered for the internal battery. A Treo 700p is comically thick compared to the iPhone 6. The thought of putting a user replaceable battery into the iPhone for the first time gave me shivers as I began thinking about battery doors, clips, and a big ol’ chunk battery like the ones used in early smartphones.

    But looking at the technical specifications of the smartphones listed above, they are already getting bigger, thicker, and heavier.

    With this trend in smartphones, and I’ll speak specifically to the iPhone, might some of the world’s best mobile device engineers be able to simultaneously add features and accommodate an end-user replaceable battery? I think it could be possible in 3 – 4 years.

    With the iPhone 15, the next iPhone that is expected to be released in September 2023, Apple is already rumored to be making slight body changes. iPhone 15, as mentioned earlier, is rumored to have a USB-C port, which is physically larger than Apple’s proprietary Lightning port. More powerful camera lens systems also necessitate a thicker body. Anyone else remember when the iPhone 4 would lay flat on its back on a table relative to the seesaw that is a recent generation iPhone on its back? Apple is also rumored to be making a switch from stainless steel bans on iPhone Pro models to the lighter medal, titanium, in an effort to offset weight from a larger battery.

    We will see what pans out in September, but with a clear trend line that iPhones are getting thicker and heavier, it would seem there is some wiggle room to add hardware changes to support a battery that is easier to replace.

    The inside of an iPhone 14 packed wall-to-wall, as can be seen in the photo (above) taken from the Apple iPhone 14 Repair Manual. To remove the battery, one must first remove the back glass to open the iPhone, a procedure that requires the use of a complicated desk mounted contraption. While I am not a mechanical engineer, making the iPhone easier to open seems like a good place to start to make battery replacement easier.

    If Apple really doesn’t want to put a user replaceable battery in the iPhone, without the need for complicated equipment, they could just go back to lowering the price for battery replacements to make the repair more accessible to customers. The price of battery replacements dropped to a low of $29 in 2018 following customer lawsuits in 2017 relating to Apple slowing down performance of older iPhones that had aging batteries in them. In 2019, Apple raised battery replacement prices and did so again earlier this year, erasing all of the temporary price reductions put in place in 2018.

    Wrap Up

    Apple has shown that they can achieve amazing feats of engineering to deliver products that many of us want to buy. But as we will see with the first USB-C iPhone, sometimes that willingness to change and re-invent things requires a little help from world governments. My initial reaction to easily replaced iPhone batteries was likely overblown. With the right motivation and lots of engineering effort, I believe it is possible to keep iPhones from getting overly larger and heavier and still have a battery that is easier to replace than the current process.

  • apple tv,  editorial,  google chromecast,  streaming

    On Apple TV Losing Ground to Other Media “Pucks”

    Analyst firm Parks Associates has released a new report (available for purchase) titled “The Streaming Media Device Landscape”.  According to the paper’s abstract, the Apple TV has now slipped down to 17% behind the Roku, and Google’s Chromcast.

    This really shouldn’t come to a surprise to anyone.  The Apple TV 3 was introduced in March 2012 and has remained essentially unchanged aside from a minor specs bump to add support for 1080p video in March 2013.

    Since then, there really hasn’t been a compelling reasons to purchase one over the Ruko or the wickedly inexpensive Google Chromecast stick.  To be honest, I really like the Ruko feature that allows you to listen to your video over the wireless remote with a pair of headphones.  I almost purchased one for my bedroom over the Apple TV just so I don’t wake my sleeping wife.  In the end, the stickiness of Apple’s ecosystem won out as I have tons of content that I’ve purchased from the iTunes Store since it’s launch back in the early 2000’s.

    Home automation with HomeKit, apps, games, or whatever Apple has planned for the rumored refresh coming this fall will be a welcomed update by many Apple fans.  My kids can’t wait for the new Apple TV to drop just so they can get my two Apple TV 3 boxes.  For me, I’d just love to have the ability to stream the audio over Bluetooth to my wireless Beats earbuds.

    You can read the full Parks Associates abstract on their website.

  • apple,  editorial,  iphone,  rumors,  scuffgate

    Editorial: iPhone 5 “Scuffgate”, Really?

    Via BGR.com
    Ok, I think that this is a bit much.  The iPhone 5 was released this past Friday and customers are already getting their pitchforks out for “Scuffgate”.
    What is scuffgate?  That is this year’s “major design flaw” after the iPhone 4’s “antennagate.”
    Oh my God!  Yes, if you take a sharp object and start scraping it on the back of your iPhone 5, yes, it’s going to get scratched!  Duh!
    Yes, the anodized aluminum coating is going to wear off over the normal use life of the iPhone 5 if you chose to use it without a case.  That’s to be expected.  Don’t like your gear getting banged up, knocked around, or nicked?  Put it in a case.
    Shove your caseless iPhone in your jeans pocket with your lose change, rings, or car keys? Yup, it’ll get scratched up.
    You took a sharp metal object, say a Liquidmetal SIM card tray pin, and rubbed the sharp end on the back of your new black iPhone 5 you say?  Yup, it’s going to get scratched up!  What were you expecting would happen?
    Come on people, the iPad is “magical,” not the iPhone.  The iPhone 5 also doesn’t have a “molecular bonded shell” like KITT had in the 1980’s TV show, “Knight Rider.”
    People who are opening up the box an taking their iPhone out for the first time and finding scratches and nicks in the metal casing, yes, those people have legitimate complaints.  People taking sharp objects to the unprotected metal plating don’t.
    Via AppleInsider.com
    Ok, lets try to put this in perspective.  You go out and buy a new car.  Are you going to take the keys and rub them, sharp side to the paint, down the side of your new car?  No!  Why not? Because it will scratch the paint! So, no, of course you’re not going to do that.  And if you did, you can’t go running back to the deal and demand a refund.  They know you did it.  Same thing applies here.
    To be fair, I’m not defending Apple.  If they are shipping out iPhone 5 handsets that have paint chips, nicks, or other types of scratches or defects in the paint or metal band around the phone, they should be fixing it.  Me?  I’m a use it in a case kind of guy, because, honestly, I don’t like my gear getting all scratched up.  To get the iPhone 5 you had to either sign a 2-year contract with your wireless provider or shelled out $300+ to get the phone off contract so you really need to take care of the hardware.
    Let’s lighten up on the gear, ok, folks?  This stuff isn’t indestructible.
  • android,  editorial,  google,  hp,  smartphones,  web os

    HP’s “Bender” Smartphone Prototype

    Last Friday many mobile new websites, including BGR.com, reported that HP has aspirations to build another line of smartphones.

    Today, BGR ran another story indicating that not only are plans underway to develop a new line of smartphones, that a test device, code named “Bender”, has already been created and is being tested.  The kicker?  The prototype device is said to be running Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) operating system.

    Huh?  After HP ingloriously put Palm webOS, Palm’s hardware, and people out to pasture HP is trying to jump start things again with an Android phone?  I’m sure this is very frustrating for WebOS’s fans.  HP said that they wanted to get out of the smartphone business when they shutdown production of the Pre3, Veer, and TouchPad – the last three webOS devices – and then making webOS open source.

    Then a year later, things are going gang busters again?  This seems totally inefficient to have a smartphone and mobile OS division up and running, shuttering things, and then rebuilding a hardware and software team to, essentially, re-inventing the wheel with a new hardware platform and Android ICS.

    To be fair, I can see why HP decided to go with Android over their in-house webOS hardware and software software assets.  Android, and Apple’s iOS, have gobbled up an insane amount of marketshare in the mobile space.  webOS, even in it’s hay day, back in 2009 when the original Palm Pre launched on Sprint, never achieved a significant foothold.  When I chose to switch from the Sprint Palm Pre to the iPhone 4S in 2011, webOS was below 2% marketshare.  If you are trying to become relevant in the smartphone space, you need an option that will draw customers, developers, and carriers to your platform.  webOS isn’t that platform.  Just ask Nokia, Research in Motion (RIM), and Microsoft about their efforts to increase their smartphone marketshare.

    But, seriously? This seems like a gigantic waste of time, money, staff resources, and momentum.  Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, and RIM have all realized that they need to control the customer experience “end-to-end” from the hardware and software, to the online software store, and ultimately, the customer experience.  This tight integration has propelled Apple and Google to amazing heights and others are trying to replicate it.  Palm, with webOS and their webOS device line up, offered the kind of solution that HP is trying to fabricate with Android and new hardware.

    If I was an HP shareholder, I would be furious at the opportunity costs associated with tearing everything down, and then, essentially, outsourcing the software development to Google, and ultimately, putting Google in the driver’s seat for the software development of HP’s new ‘gotta do it’ smartphone strategy.

    At the end of the day, the only thing that is clear for me, is that I won’t be replacing my iPhone 4S with a new HP smartphone.  I’ve made my peace with webOS and will remember Palm fondly.

  • apple,  editorial

    iPod touch: What Are You Going to Do?

    I was looking forward to Apple’s iPod event last week with the hopes that there would be some cool new features added to the iPod touch. I was looking for an excuse to upgrade from my G1 touch since my headphone jack is acting flaky and I was hoping to get more storage space for the same price, or less, than I had paid for my 16GB unit. Plus the Internet was abuzz with rumors that there would be a digital camera in the new unit. And let’s not forget that newer versions of the touch also have the hardware buttons for volume control – something I miss from my 5th Gen iPod.

    The Apple event came and went with little more than a memory upgrade for the mid-tier iPod touch. Should I stick with what I’ve got? Should I buy a refurbished 16 or 32GB 2G iPod touch? Should I pick up a 32GB 3G iPod touch? Or should I keep waiting for the camera I was hoping would have been in the new iPod later down the road?

    The day before the Apple event, there was a rumor on the Internet that stated that a run of bad parts (the cameras) would delay the launch of the new 3G iPod touch. Turns out that Apple wasn’t going to hold up the new features that they could deliver.

    iFixit.com recently posted take apart directions for the 3G iPod touch that reveals that the motherboard does in fact have space for a 5th Gen iPod Nano style camera in it. iFitix also revealed that the Wi-Fi chip inside the new touch is capable of 802.11n, provided that Apple release the driver to take full advantage of the chip.

    So, iPod fans, what are we going to do? Since the 32 and 64GB iPod touch models are exactly “cheap”, I think I’ll be sticking with my 1G iPod touch until my headphone jack stops working or Apple finally gives the iPod touch the features it’s price tag demands.

    Click the Comments link below and let us know what you are planning to do.

  • editorial,  web os

    Editorial: The Evolution of Palm OS

    I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about Palm OS and her Centro. She was surprised to see that my email signature read, “Sent from my BlackBerry Curve” and not “Sent from my Palm Treo 755p.”

    The conversation continued a few hours later when Geri and I met face to face. The problem wasn’t that I was using a BlackBerry. My friends are used to seeing me with some new gadget every few months. In fact they expect it, demanding to see my new “toy” when we get together. Geri has never been one to pull her punches and asked, “Is the Palm OS dead?” She was questioning her recent decision to buy a Centro that I recommended when I was still using my Treo 755p and she a Z22. My response was that Palm OS had evolved into something completely new.

    When Palm launches their new Pre smartphone, likely to be sometime in the next 90 days, it will mark the ending of the Palm OS era and the beginning of the new Palm webOS platform. Yes, webOS will be virtually indistinguishable from the Palm OS. webOS will be controlled by your finger – not a stylus or navigation ring. Applications will be written in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript rather than C/C++. And our old applications will not run on the new platform.

    webOS, and the Pre, is all about simplicity. The user interface of webOS will be clean and functional. Palm developed webOS to be intuitive, so you will be able to learn it’s gestures quickly without having to flip through a thick manual with small print. Most importantly, webOS will be able to multitask so it can switch from task to task as quickly as you do. In short, Palm took their Zen of Palm design philosophy from Palm OS and transplanted it into the DNA of webOS.

    Yes, the software is all-new, but the legendary Palm ease of use and attention to the customer’s needs is still there, at the heart of the new OS.

    “Ok, so that sounds nice. But will my data transfer?,” was the next question. For the legions of Palm OS users who nervously await the arrival of the Pre, this is the $64,000 question. Without knowing the specific details, we all know, deep down, that the answer will be “Yes.” Why am I so sure? Palm wants their Palm OS customers to upgrade someday.

    When Palm announced webOS and the Pre last month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), they focused on the built-in applications and the new hardware. They did talk about a new synchronization engine called “Synergy” in conjunction with Outlook, the cloud (read: Internet), Gmail, and Yahoo. But there was no mention of Palm Desktop or the PIM application data that is currently stored in our Palm Centro and Treo smartphones today.

    Let’s set aside my theory about Palm’s own web portal solution, that will link your Mac OS X or Windows PC to a Palm server which in turn links to your Pre or other future webOS device for a minute. During the CES presentation, Palm displayed a slide that listed a number of companies that they were working with to develop software for the new platform. One of those companies was Chapura, a company that has had a long relationship with Palm. Chapura was there when I started using a Palm back in 1999. Ten years later, Chapura is still developing great software that unlocks the data in your computer and puts it at your fingertips wherever you are. Even if Palm choses to get out of the desktop software business entirely, I am confident that Chapura, DataViz, or SplashData will develop a tool for migrating your data either from your computer to your new phone or from your old Palm OS Centro or Treo to your new Pre or a cloud portal (read: Google or Yahoo). The thing to take away is that even though Palm isn’t talking about data migration right now, rest assured, there will be multiple ways to move your data over. You won’t be left to retype your contacts list into your new Pre.

    To summarize, Palm OS will not be used in any more devices from Palm. Palm officials have been crystal clear on that point. Devices that use Palm OS today will not stop working when the Pre begins to ship with webOS. Palm’s webOS is all together different than Palm OS, however, Palm’s special “secret sauce” will ensure that webOS will be just as easy to use as Palm OS is today. And Palm has a plan for migrating your data to a new device.

    So how about it Palm? Can we start talking about the specifics around webOS, Synergy, and the migration path from Palm OS?

    Oh, and about the BlackBerry being my everyday device? I’ve already migrated all of my contacts from Palm Desktop into my Google Gmail account and I’m wirelessly synchronizing data between the two. Just think of the BlackBerry as a place holder until I buy my new Palm Pre smart(er)phone.

  • editorial,  web os

    webOS is the New Palm OS

    With today’s exciting announcement of the Palm Pre, we have to say goodbye to our old friends, “Palm OS II” and “Nova.” The next generation Palm device will be powered by the successor to Palm OS 5, a new operating system called Palm webOS.

    Palm webOS, or just “webOS”, is a completely new direction for Palm. The first thing that strikes you about webOS is that it has a clean multi-touch based user interface (UI). There are only minimal on screen buttons when you are in an application and you can forget about the cheap feeling plastic stylus than comes with the Centro. Pre, the first device powered by webOS, uses your finger for navigation and control of the device. If you are a complusive texter or send a lot of email, webOS also supports the slide out keyboard found on the Pre.

    I’m also excited to report that many of the long standing issues with Palm OS have been addressed in webOS. webOS brings multitasking to the table along with things like support for multiple radios. In the past, it was impossible to have a Palm OS device that had Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a cellular radio. webOS not only makes it possible to have all three radios active, Palm’s Pre will have all three wireless technologies and GPS built-in.

    For all of the “new-ness” that is webOS, there are still some questions that I would like to see answered. I did no read about a Palm OS emulation (POSE) mode in webOS. Without a POSE layer in webOS, it will be impossible to run applications from the vast Palm OS library on the Pre. webOS also brings back “drive mode” which allows you to connect a device, like the Pre, to your computer and use it like a USB mass storage device. Many people, myself included, think that is great, but where is the microUSB card slot?

    During their product demonstration for the Pre, Palm talked about Synergy, a new data colleciton engine that brings all of your separate bits of information into a single location; a webOS powered device. The quesions I have are: Will Synergy replace the HotSync Manager? And if so, how does data from Palm Desktop get into your webOS powered device? Will there be a replacement application for Palm Desktop? Will Palm serve up their own cloud solution or will customers be forced to migrate their PIM data from Palm Desktop and move into web portables from Google, Yahoo, and America Online? Inquiring minds want to know. Questions like these aside, webOS is a powerful mobile OS that allows you to focus on what is important to you.

    webOS is such a breath of fresh air, it is incredible. I have waited a long time for this day to come. Palm has packed so many new things into webOS that it is a radical departure from what we knew this morning; and yet, there is still enough of Palm OS’ heritage in webOS that it somehow still seems familiar. After having used Palm OS devices everyday now for over nine years, not much has changed with how people interact with Palm OS. Someone who has used the original Palm Pilot with Palm OS 1.0 can pickup a Centro with Palm OS 5.4.9 and get back to work in just a few minutes.

    webOS is the shot in the arm that Palm really needed to help drive new hardware designs with an intuitive way to work. webOS captures the essance of “The Zen of Palm” and brings it to a whole new level. I am really looking forward to taking the new Palm Pre and webOS out for a test drive. It is going to blow you away.

    Photo courtesy of TreoCentral.

  • editorial

    Editorial: Palm’s At Bat

    This week, contributing writer, Richard Cartwright shares with us some of his thoughts about Palm as we get ready for their CES press event on Thursday.

    Palm’s At Bat

    The blogosphere is buzzing with Palm’s upcoming CES announcement regarding the new Nova OS and new hardware. I for one am just glad that Palm bit the bullet and is announcing at CES. The timing could not have been much better as it was during a slow tech news time and has generated a lot of buzz for Palm. Most of it is of the “last chance” sports metaphor variety but buzz is buzz and frankly, it’s the truth. This is Palm’s last chance to get back into the mobile smart phone game. The bases are loaded, bottom of the 9th, two outs and Palm is three runs behind, the “runs” being iPhone, RIM and Android.

    Palm, like a lot of other vendors, never saw the iPhone coming, as evidenced by Collagen’s infamous quote about how hard it is to put a smart phone together. I strongly suspect that a large part of the Nova OS delay was based on a realization that the bar had been raised by the iPhone and Nova had to clear the higher bar. Nova has to have a better ease of use than the iPhone. Nova has to have a full set of apps working out of the box, especially PIM apps, multimedia and a browser. Nova also has to be open to third party developers with a clear process as to what it takes to get to play on Nova and a willingness to allow those apps to directly compete with the Palm produced apps. Finally, Nova has to have cut and paste. If Palm does this, they will address both many of the sore points iPhone users have and the things people like about the iPhone.

    Palm has to provide a rich multimedia experience that is not tied to a proprietary standard. I am betting that Palm is going to use Active Sync in a big way for the Windows side and probably Missing Sync on the Mac side. This would let Palm tie into existing Windows and Mac programs such as Media Player or third party solutions using existing standards rather than shoehorning into a proprietary solution. If Palm felt the need to partner with somebody, Amazon is sitting out there with its cheap DRM -free music and videos. At this stage, I frankly doubt it, given the Amazon/Android relationship, but one never knows. Supporting the experience needs to be a iphone-sized touch screen, removable storage, and A2DP Bluetooth support, along with a standard headphone jack that does not take a dongle to use.

    Palm could also turn Apple’s PIMphobia to its advantage by offering a strong PIM solution out of the box, another source of discomfort with the iPhone. The solution needs to be fully Outlook and Google compatible and fully capable of importing legacy data from prior versions of the Palm OS. Additionally there needs to be a strong email program. Visual voice mail and the dedicated ringer switch would be winners as well. The browser experience has to be at least equal to the iPhone with flash support. The new phone must support GPS and a Bluetooth wireless keyboard. Speaking of keyboards, Palm could go far with the idea of a swivel touch screen that exposes a Treo standard keypad that would both allow for screen real estate and capitalize on the one handed ease of use and two thumb typing that many Treo and RIM users are comfortable with.

    A lot of the issues Palm needs to address with the iPhone users will also seduce at least a few Blackberry users. Decent push email, multimedia and a browser worth having should lure those who went to RIM because they needed good email and a keyboard and were willing to overlook the abysmal browser experience and lack of third party apps. It goes without saying that the Nova hardware will have to have Wi-Fi and a 3-5 megapixel camera along with this usual 3g phone suspects. WiMax and LTE support would be nice, but I do not see it in the product yet, particularly as I suspect the hardware spec was frozen before the WiMax deal was firmed up. However, I am almost certain that Nova will be able to support multiple radio standards or Palm learned nothing from Garnet and its inability to support 3g GSM standards. Palm is also positioned to capitalize on the RIM problems with the Storm and the lack of Wi-Fi.

    Android is the current darling of the mobile technoratti but even its strongest supporters freely admit that it’s not ready for prime time. In addition to being open source, Android has the backing of Goggle, a somewhat larger company than Palm. That said, if Palm can deliver a rock solid program with a good out of box experience, Android could become the victim of its own flexibility. Why? To paraphrase a Nokia corporate leader, Palm in the end has four customers in the US: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. For better or worse, the North American mobile phone market runs on subsidized contracts. For Palm to make the revenue it needs, it has to get love from at least two and ideally all four carriers. The iPhone has plowed the field for Wi-Fi and some openness. While the carriers are not fans of third-party applications, I suspect that if Nova is a hit, the carriers might well prefer it to the open and easily hacked Android system. Embracing Palm would give the carriers a closed OS in the sense it could not be easily hacked for VoIP, for example, but open to useful programs. Further, it would give the carriers something to counterbalance Apple on one end and RIM on the other.

    Palm needs to have outstanding syncing capability both to the cloud and the desktop. As stated before, I suspect Palm will use existing Windows and Apple systems as much as possible both to minimize conflicts and to stick with standards. Finally, the question everyone probably has: how do you power this prodigy? I predict a removable battery for starters coupled with some outstanding power management. Again, as long as Palm battery life is at least as good as the current iPhone, that should be enough, particularly since the Android phone by all reports can’t get through a single day without recharging. I would say an OLED screen could address power consumption, but that brings us to cost. Palm has to undercut the iPhone cost yet still have decent profit margins. I would do this via removable storage. The Palm phone could have 4 or even 8GB on board and removable storage to the user’s content. This not only reduces cost but gives the user the freedom to increase storage as much as the media allows.

    As Palm goes to bat, it has to have rock steady useful software and hardware that addresses the dissatisfaction of iPhone, Blackberry and Android users if it’s going to hit to the “fat middle”. Here is hoping the users in Palm’s outfield stands get a chance to catch the home run ball.

  • editorial

    Palm CES Predictions

    With Palm’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) invitation-only press event less than a week away, I figured it was time to make some predictions about what the Centro maker might unveil.

    Palm OS “Nova”

    I fully expect Palm CEO Ed Colligan to unveil their next generation mobile operating system, codename “Nova.” Company officials have stated that the next generation products will be “game changing” and now it is time to see if the proof is in the pudding. The road from Palm OS 5 to what we’ve called “Palm OS II” for so many years is finally coming to an end.

    Nova will have, thanks to its Linux origins, the modern foundation upon which new applications can be built. Nova will have the ability to run multiple applications at once, address more memory than previous Palm OS devices, and will be able to support and use multiple radio technologies including: Bluetooth and A2DP, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, GPS, and the HSDPA and EVDO cellular radio standards. The real question is whether or not Nova will include support for the fledgling WiMAX network being rolled out by Sprint and Clearwire. I also expect that Nova will be able to support more screen resolutions than the standard Palm OS 160×160 and 320×320 formats. Additionally, I expect that Nova will also be able to run legacy Palm OS 3/4/5 applications in their own memory space to preserve customer’s software investments.

    The technical specifications for Nova, by themselves, won’t be able to carry Palm back to a mobile computing leadership position. For Palm to be successful, Nova has to mesh with the next generation of hardware that Palm will be releasing in 2009. I don’t believe that Palm will introduce any new smartphones this week. Rather, I expect Palm will focus almost exclusively on the software. We’ll learn about Nova’s new user interface, it’s multitasking capabilities, and the core applications that will ship pre-installed on new devices. I expect Palm to show off their revamped PIM applications, web browser and email client. An intuitive interface with Palm’s easy to use applications will help drive adoption of their new platform.

    I also expect that Palm will release a preview software development kit (SDK) and software simulator to professional and hobbyist developers so they can begin to develop new software for Nova and update existing software so that it can run natively under Nova.

    Information Synchronization

    Keeping with the software theme, I expect Palm to announce the replacements for Palm Desktop and the HotSync Manager. As I have stated in past 1SRC editorials and podcasts, I believe that USB drivers for data synchronization will be replaced by an Internet cloud solution. Your data will live on your computer and your Palm device and the data will be synchronized through the Internet. The seamless integration between desktop, mobile device, and Palm’s data center should reduce the complaints about not having 64-bit Windows Vista drivers, Transport monitor errors on the Mac, and other common problems that people have when trying to synchronize their phones.

    Launch Partners

    Lastly, I expect that Palm will have some of their Nova device launch partners on hand to talk about what third-party software will be ready to go live when Nova devices start shipping.

    At the end of the day, it will be of utmost importance that Palm not only deliver on the promise of People, Design, and Platform, but to deliver on an entire Palm ecosystem. Software a lone is not enough to lift Palm out of their current rut. Palm needs to demonstrate that they have innovative software that differentiates them from everyone else. Palm also needs to have sleek and functional hardware choices that appeal to consumers and “prosumers” as well as corporate customers. And, finally, Palm needs to ensure that they have a strong developer community to help write applications for Nova. This includes a robust development environment, useful documentation, and a certification and support network to help ensure that applications run smoothly on the new operating system.

    There will be a lot of people hanging on every word that is said at Palm’s CES press event this year. The media, investment analysts, and the Palm user community will be looking to Palm to produce the next big thing and prove that the company that brought us the Palm Pilot and Treo can still be a leader in the mobile computing space.

    What do you think Palm will be showing the world on January 8th? Let us know by clicking the Comments link below.

  • editorial

    Editorial: Palm App Store 2.0

    I was about to write up a review of Palm’s new App Store when I saw that TreoCentral’s Annie Latham has a well written review posted. Rather than rehash what has already been written, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit my vision for an integrated, wireless, cloud based solution from Palm in which a Palm app store is a critical componant along site a Palm customer service portal along the lines of the myPalm.com beta.

    As you can see from the screen shots below, the App Store icon launches a web page that is the same on a Palm OS Treo or Centro as it is on a Windows Mobile Treo. The web app solution gets Palm around a problem that they had previously had with the myPalm application which was that it was only for Palm OS handhelds and smartphones. (This was because the previous myPalm app store was based on the Bluefish Wireless AddIt application that Palm has included with their PDAs and smartphones since late 2003.) Now all of Palm’s customers can join in on the buy-it-on-the-go fun. I wrote about why I think Palm needs an integrated on device application store in the 1SRC.com editorial, “Palm Needs an App Store.”

    (Tapping the green App Store icon lauches a web URL to the online Palm App Store which contains some 5,000 combined Palm OS and Windows Mobile applications.)

    The app store that I envisioned when I wrote that editorial operated more like Appl’e App Store and the older myPalm AddIt application that Latham wrote about on TreoCentral here. I would like to see Palm provide an integrated solution. The web based app store will download and install the Palm OS or Windows Mobile application installer over the air (OTA) to your device and that is really cool and simple for novice users to get apps on to their devices. But what happens when the device gets hard reset? Palm needs to make sure that it is easy for customers to access their unlock codes, serial numbers, and installers. An integrated solution would make this possible. One solution could be similar to the now defunct myPalm.com portal where customers would login to a Palm customer service portal and be able to access their purchased software and find their serial numbers. An alternateive or companion option would be to use some of the features of also defunct Palm Backup application where the software prompts users to login to the Palm portal server and then be able to redownload and install their software. All over the air without the need to sync to a Windows or Mac OS X desktop computer.

    This leads me back to a cloud computing portal solution that I suspect that Palm could have been looking at before the economey took a turn for the worse. A Palm solution similar to Apple’s Mobile Me offering could offer a spot to sync your PIM data to, manage OTA device backup and restores along site OTA software download and installation. A small desktop application for Windows and Mac OS X could plug-in to the cloud portable to provide a similar destkop experience that we have today only without the hassle of having to deal with wired data synchronization and USB device drivers.

    In conclusion, I think that Palm has all the pieces for a new cloud based solution. The question now is when can it be implemented. Palm clearly has all hands on deck to ensure that Palm OS II / Nova is successfully launched on new hardware. Will a new cloud portal solution go live at the the same time that Nova does? What about Windows Mobile? Will the software be developed for Windows Mobile Professional 5 and 6; or will Palm focus on a new integrated on device application of Windows Mobile 7? My guess is that Palm will focus new software devlopment on Nova and Windows Mobile 7 while existing devices can still access the PocketGear web app store that Palm recently rolled out.

    Now that integrated, cloud based solution (desktop to device wireless sync, customer service portal, and OTA application installs and backups) is one that I’m looking forward to. It has the potential to reduce the toubleshooting and support issues around USB drivers and data synchronization; it will give customers easy access to new applications for their devices; and all of their information (PIM data, purchased software, and device backups) can be easily accessed from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

    Let me know what you think by using the comments link below.