Some of you have recently criticized my increasingly negative stance on the future of Palm OS Garnet and its successor OS, Nova. As the TamsPalm team believes in reader feedback, here is my personal opinion why I feel that Nova will fail to become more than a short blimp on the mobile computing timeline.
The mobile computing market has changed significantly due to the iPhone. An even broader range of customers now understands the value of third party apps (last but not least due to heavy advertising on apple’s part) – and will be hesitant to purchase a non-expandable phone.
Stunning applications, however, are created by talented developers. As mobile-capable coders are extremely rare, their man hours are precious. System houses thus love to have huge ROI – but getting big ROI is difficult on a platform which has very few active devices roaming around the markets.
Unfortunately, getting devices out isn’t easy. Customers want to have a handset that is cool out of the box – which is somewhat difficult to accomplish if you don’t have any third-party apps.
Let’s now assume that a lightning bolt fries the brains of Palm executives and makes them pray to developers and offer free Nova devices and a final SDK tomorrow…I am pretty sure that the response of most of them will be bored yawning. The reason: Palm unfortunately has a long history of not shipping stuff.
Cobalt’s failure is quite an old story – but the hundreds of man hours that went down the drain with it are still very present in developer’s minds. The public disaster around the Foleo then did the rest to drive developers off the edge: a product which essentially was ready to ship was killed.
Even though I am pretty sure that the developers who participated in the pre-release program were compensated to some extent (to keep them from suing or selling their Foleo off to the highest-bidding journalist and declaring it lost), the public perception of the deal was catastrophic (as everybody thinks that the orange boys f##ed them over big-time).
The situation above looks like a classic catch-2 – and it probably is just that. Unless Palm takes radical measures to ensure developers of success (read: guaranteed sales), Nova will be ignored by third-party coders not contracted by Palm. This will lead to a huge lack of third-party programs, which slows device sales. This will then lead….you get the idea.
What do you think?