A TamsPalm user sent me a very interesting email asking for answers on how the Palm Treo 680 will affect the Palm OS economy as whole. Since the answers could be interesting for everyone and he agreed to have it answered publicly, here we go:
Yes… Palm OS. I read your opinion on the PalmSource forum. I think if I were starting over again that I would err on the side of caution and choose Windows Mobile but, when I was considering the development platform back in May of 2005, the Treo 650 was easily the best thing that I could find out there. The fact that PODS is free also helped.
A year ago, the Palm OS’s market situation still looked a lot brighter than it did now. At the moment it looks like a close tie.
As for the development environment, the freeness of development tools shouldn’t be the platform decider(IMHO – but I do it too sometimes). If you pay 50$ for a development environment but sell 50 times more, you will quickly recoup your investment. PODS itself is obviously ‘different’ from most other environments, but becomes usable after a few hours.
Palm OS development itself also has a few weird quirks – but as said, once you an do it, you can do it. The benefit of the initial steep learning curve is that there are rather few new developers, which leads to more $$$/app.
Out of curiosity, has your opinion brightened on Palm OS now that the 680 is out on the market (this being a clear sign, along with the perpetual OS licence agreement, of Palm’s future direction with the OS)? Would you invest more time in Palm OS development work or would you wait on a big 680 success story? I do believe that Palm OS has a BIG opportunity as the OS for the general masses (essentially moving down from its business position) and that Palm Corp. stands to make big bucks here. Furthermore, I suspect that the true geeks among us, who see the 680′s merely incremental improvements over the 650 as an indicator of pending doom, are missing the point Joe-average buyer will very much be wowed by this phone.
For me, Palm OS Treo hardware sales success and Palm OS software sales success are entirely different pairs of shoe. Many Palm users who buy a Treo never ever think about installing third party software – and the more the Treo replaces the Symbian semi-smartphones, the more such users you get.
The Palm OS economy gets fueled by advanced users who see their Treo as mobile computers than can be extended. If you pay a high price for the privilege of doing Treo, you will probably think about what you bought. If you, on the other hand, get the Treo 680 for 1€ with the contract, you probably will see it as a dumbphone just like the Nokia one you had before.
Would you answer any of the questions differently?