LG Chooses Palm Operating System for Future Smart Phone

Could be the first phone to use new Linux-based Palm software.

Tom Krazit, IDG News Service
Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Mobile phone manufacturer LG Electronics has agreed to use a version
of the Palm OS designed by Palmsource in a future smart phone, which
might be the first phone to use a Linux-based version of Palm OS that
is currently under development.

In a press release issued today, the companies did not reveal many
details of their partnership. A Palmsource spokeswoman referred
inquires about the forthcoming phone to LG representatives based in
South Korea, who were not immediately available for comment. But the
announcement is a boost for beleaguered Palmsource, which has
struggled to evolve from developing products for personal digital
assistants (PDAs) to creating operating systems for mobile phones.

Palmsource interim CEO Patrick McVeigh had referred to a pending
announcement of a new licensee last week during a conference call
about Palmsource's fourth-quarter earnings results, in which the
Sunnyvale, California, company swung to a profit based on a one-time
gain. Wednesday's announcement solves that mystery, but does not
address which version of Palm OS will appear in the phone.

The entire handheld device industry is undergoing a transition as the
growth of traditional unconnected PDAs has stagnated. PDA companies
such as Hewlett-Packard and Palmsource's former corporate sibling
PalmOne are spending more time building devices that pair the
capabilities of a PDA with those of mobile phones. Some such devices
are called smart phones, while others are labeled wireless PDAs,
depending on whether the design emphasizes phone capabilities or PDA

Various Palmsource OSs

Palmsource's recent troubles stem from its inability to get Cobalt, a
version of Palm OS designed for phones, into a popular smart phone or
voice-capable PDA, said Todd Kort, principal analyst with research
firm Gartner's Dataquest unit. Smart phone vendors such as Samsung
Electronics and Kyocera Wireless have licensed Cobalt, but they
haven't released products based on the operating system.

PalmOne's Treo 600 and 650, which have done very well in the market,
use a modified version of Garnet, an older Palm OS version, Kort said.
PalmOne created additional code (which it has not shared with
Palmsource) on top of the Palm OS to make Garnet much more suitable
for mobile phones, he said.

"There's probably 80 percent that is Palmsource stuff, but the last 20
percent--the phone stuff--are things that PalmOne had to do on their
own," Kort said.

Last year, Palmsource announced plans to implement code from Cobalt on
top of the Linux kernel. It believed that using the Linux kernel would
reduce development costs and result in less-expensive smart phones for
emerging markets in countries like China, former Palmsource CEO David
Nagel said in an interview with IDG News Service earlier this year.

Now the company is planning to focus all of its development efforts on
its Linux-based Palm OS release, McVeigh said during last week's
conference call. This will likely be the operating system used in LG's
phone, Kort said.

Linux Palm OS in 2006

McVeigh said that the Linux-based version of Palm OS will be ready
next year. A typical mobile phone development cycle tends to run
between 12 and 18 months, a Palmsource spokesperson said.

LG has steadily risen through the ranks of the world's mobile phone
vendors, reaching fifth place (ranked by unit shipments) in 2004,
according to Gartner. The Seoul company has done well in North America
and Korea, where CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks are
used more widely than they are in Europe, Kort said. LG has also
released several interesting clamshell or flip phones--a fashionable
design over the past year, he said.


"I don't feel the need to be famous. It's all bull**** anyway....Having people around me just because I'm famous makes me feel really bad about myself. So I give 10% to my agent to do the fame thing, and I go focus on whatever I love."
-- Jessica Alba

See More: LG Chooses Palm Operating System for Future Smart Phone