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Palm Can License webOS to Other Handset Makers
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Old 01/12/2009, 10:27 AM   #1 (permalink)
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By omitting backward compatibility from the new OS, Palm has freed itself from its licensing restrictions with ACCESS. Under the deal announced a couple years ago, Palm was permitted to modify Garnet, but wouldn't have been allowed to sublicense an OS based on it.

Now Palm can have yet another point of differentiation from Apple. If Palm can convince a handful of major device makers to join the party, I think webOS would have a great shot at taking back a significant share of the market. Companies like Samsung and LG aren't married to a single platform; they'll make any device that will sell. And HTC has said in the past that it's very open to trying Linux.
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Old 01/13/2009, 02:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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The problem is, last time they licensed their OS to other makers, Sony got all pissy that Palm was making both the hardware and the OS, and wanted Palm to spin off their OS division into PalmSource.

And we all know how that went.
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Old 01/13/2009, 12:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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So Palm shouldn't spin off its OS division again. Lesson learned.

Sony views proprietary technology as something that should be and would be exploited to one's advantage. They wouldn't make a great partner.

Meanwhile, the world has been berating Apple for not licensing out its OS. Even Michael Dell has said that he would sell a Mac-compatible PC if he could.

There's really nothing new about competing directly with one's business partners. Samsung supplies components to other makers of cell phones, TVs, computers, mp3 players, and other competing products. Nokia owns Symbian. HTC manufactures cell phones for other companies while selling its own competing devices.
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Old 01/14/2009, 06:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Agree with bhtooefr 110%.

Also, Microsoft recently announced they will be reducing the number of device models running WM.

HTC stated a couple years ago the only OS they were going to manufacture for is WM.

Given the carriers decide what they will sell to us, they likely prefer fewer OS licensing agreements so as to more easily manage bugs and upgrades.
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Old 01/14/2009, 07:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Agree with bhtooefr 110%.
He said that it went badly last time. He's right.

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HTC stated a couple years ago the only OS they were going to manufacture for is WM.
Must have been before they started manufacturing the Android phone.

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Given the carriers decide what they will sell to us, they likely prefer fewer OS licensing agreements so as to more easily manage bugs and upgrades.
So you really think that there's a carrier that won't sell the Pre?? Which one?

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Old 01/18/2009, 10:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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So you really think that there's a carrier that won't sell the Pre?? Which one?
Depends. Looking at the US carriers, in no particular order:

- T-Mobile hasn't carried a Palm device since the Treo 600. Will they decide that the Pre is exciting/different enough? Is Palm willing to add to the manufacturing costs of the GSM model to include a radio that supports 1700 mHz (T-Mo US's only 3G frequency)? It's either that or have multiple radio configurations for sale on different carriers worldwide--which is potentially a big complication.

- AT&T has limited its selection of iPhone competitors, though they've always carried Palm's Treo and Centro line. Where does the Pre fit in their analysis?

- Verizon holds off on most phones for longer than other carriers--for testing reasons as has been cited elsewhere, and possibly others. And they were reportedly burned big-time after the 700p update issue.

Right now, you can make a case that any of them will--or won't. Until either Sprint's exclusive is up or something leaks out, it's hard to say for sure.
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Old 01/19/2009, 06:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Right now, you can make a case that any of them will--or won't.
You could make a case that T-mobile won't because they don't sell the Treo. But I doubt they'd refuse the Pre if given the chance. And if Palm won't make a webOS phone for them, there are other manufacturers who would be happy to if Palm would allow it.

Re AT&T, you assume that Palm will continue making Garnet devices, and that it's possible that AT&T could prefer selling Garnet devices INSTEAD of the Pre.

Re Verizon, you didn't even attempt to make a case that Verizon wouldn't sell the Pre.
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Old 01/19/2009, 06:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Windows Mobile, and probably Android, are having hardware diversity issues that Apple and (to a lesser extent) RIM don't have to deal with. Microsoft recently announced that they would be imposing more stringent device requirements on OEMs -- which will result in fewer WM phones.

One of the main reasons that the iPhone has been so successful is that Apple only has to optimize for one hardware profile. RIM has more phones, but at least controls what hardware is best for their OS.

WM and Android have to satisfy many different form factors and UI configurations. Not only is this a technical challege, but it presents a paradox of choice for consumers. If prospective customers have to choose between a dozen phones on one platform vs. Apple's "any color so long as it's black" option, the latter is the less confusing option.
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Old 01/19/2009, 08:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You could make a case that T-mobile won't because they don't sell the Treo. But I doubt they'd refuse the Pre if given the chance. And if Palm won't make a webOS phone for them, there are other manufacturers who would be happy to if Palm would allow it.
T-Mobile looks to be keeping its smartphone OSes limited. Windows Mobile, Android and BlackBerries at this point. They may decide they want to focus their resources. On the other hand, they may find the Pre compelling enough to go with it.

And given all of Palm's "we want to be in control of our own destiny" lines in its execs' speeches over the last few years, I'd think there'd be a hint of a licensing plan if they were contemplating it. So yes, it's possible; I seriously doubt it.

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Re AT&T, you assume that Palm will continue making Garnet devices, and that it's possible that AT&T could prefer selling Garnet devices INSTEAD of the Pre.
No, I didn't. I would actually argue that AT&T is phasing out the Centro--its last Garnet device--because it wants all of its current lineup to support 3G, and Garnet limits the Centro to EDGE. And I think Palm is phasing out manufacturing any Garnet devices at all (in other words, the Centro), though the timeframe will depend on overseas carriers' schedules.

The question is what devices/platforms AT&T does want in its lineup. Historically, they've had the broadest selection of OSes. With the iPhone as their flagship product, though, they are limiting that a bit more. They've passed on a couple of WinMob iPhone clones. They have very few other "touchscreen-only" models. Will they see the Pre as distinct and compelling or too similar and potentially confusing for the customer?

There've been psychological studies done that say that it's harder to make a choice from a broad range of choices than from just a few. IIRC, it's that with just a few choices, the differences stand out more. So AT&T will want to be sure that its lineup is distinct. If Palm can play up the innovations that the Pre has and the iPhone doesn't, AT&T may go for it. If AT&T says "You're just trying to compete with the iPhone," then they wouldn't. In the end, do they come down on the side of the journalists and pundits, or the naysayers who've commented on those articles and blogs?

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Re Verizon, you didn't even attempt to make a case that Verizon wouldn't sell the Pre.
Ok, let me spell that out a bit more... Verizon might decide that they don't want a repeat of the Storm situation. Or the Treo 700 updates mess. While they took much longer than usual to pick up the 755, they're always one of the last--or often the last--to get a phone. Whatever the specifics, if they say no, it's bound to be that they're "being cautious." Of course, they might find the Pre compelling enough to go for it too. And it might be that AT&T and or T-Mobile going for it will make Verizon think "We should too." With Verizon, it's not just "if"--"when" is also up in the air big-time. Even if they pick it up, will you be able to buy someone a Verizon one for Christmas this year?

As I did say before, you can make a case either way for any of the three. All we can say for sure now is that we won't know for sure until Sprint's exclusive is up, unless there's a leak.
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Old 01/20/2009, 05:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
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T-Mobile looks to be keeping its smartphone OSes limited. Windows Mobile, Android and BlackBerries at this point.
They just added Android. By your logic, every carrier in the world that doesn't carry every single smartphone OS (I'd guess that would be every carrier in the world) is keeping its smartphone OSes limited to what they carry "at this point" - until they add the next OS.


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No, I didn't. I would actually argue that AT&T is phasing out the Centro...
Your previous argument about AT&T was that they have always carried the Garnet devices, so how does the Pre fit in? Now you seem to think that they might not sell the Pre even though you think they'll stop selling Garnet devices because of its inability to handle 3G.

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As I did say before, you can make a case either way for any of the three. All we can say for sure now is that we won't know for sure until Sprint's exclusive is up, unless there's a leak.
You and I have VERY different understandings of what it means to "make a case." For me, just repeating a claim that something might happen doesn't "make a case" that it might happen.
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Old 01/20/2009, 11:03 PM   #11 (permalink)
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They just added Android. By your logic, every carrier in the world that doesn't carry every single smartphone OS (I'd guess that would be every carrier in the world) is keeping its smartphone OSes limited to what they carry "at this point" - until they add the next OS.
No, that's not what I said. I hadn't clarified this--I was referring to something specific that I had heard from a T-Mobile corporate rep at one point. Granted, this was before Android and they did go for the G1. Limiting does not mean ruling out any changes, after all. While my T-Mobile contact didn't say, I wonder if no WiFi in Palm's devices at the time--this was before the Pro--might have been a factor.

Specifically on T-Mobile and Palm: after carrying the 600, they opted to pass on the 650 and 680. They could have picked up the 750 or the Pro--since Windows Mobile is an OS they offer--and passed. The Centro was extremely popular on the other 3 US carriers and again, they passed.

So it comes down to how big of a change does T-Mo see here--both in Palm's product line and in them as a company?

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Your previous argument about AT&T was that they have always carried the Garnet devices, so how does the Pre fit in? Now you seem to think that they might not sell the Pre even though you think they'll stop selling Garnet devices because of its inability to handle 3G.
I was referring to AT&T's relationship with Palm, as illustrated by them carrying 5 devices--the 600, 650, 680, 750 and Centro--on the old AT&T, on Cingular, or now the new AT&T. On they other hand, it sure looks like they've passed on the Treo Pro--which seemed a tailor-made fit to replace the 750. Or, like the old AT&T with the 600, it might just come out much later than anyone would expect (I remember people waiting for months when both Cingular and T-Mobile had it and AT&T didn't yet). Now the Pre's up for consideration. Which wins out, the strength of Palm's innovations with the Pre and the relationship they had built, or the focus on their flagship smartphone?

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You and I have VERY different understandings of what it means to "make a case." For me, just repeating a claim that something might happen doesn't "make a case" that it might happen.
I said one could make a case either way. Most of the evidence, though, that any of us here can cite is what's come before. As the old line goes, "Past performance is no indication of future results." In a nutshell, there are just too many variables to say with any certainty right now.

I'd be thrilled if all 4 national US carriers picked up the Pre. At the moment, though, it's just speculation on how many of them will. They could say "We'll wait until next time" and we won't know until then. Or they could say "We're in" now and make an announcement the day after Sprint's exclusive expires. We can say "this one's likely to" or "that one's doubtful" and easily be wrong in the end. Being optimistic is fine--just keep it grounded.

The Pre's gotten a lot of good buzz from all the journalists, pundits and bloggers. Some of those articles have said, though, that Palm's not out of the woods yet just because they gave a great demo of a new product, and that may prompt cell execs to be cautious.
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Old 01/21/2009, 02:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The absolute worst thing palm can do is outsource the OS to manufacturers like sony-ericsson, LG, etc. Palm specializes in handsets while LG makes refridgerators. While it would get a much wide market and demographic, the result would be several Pre-clones made at substandard cost, and be nothing but trouble to both carriers, customers, and the reps that handle it all. WinMob got too MUCH market saturation and now Microsoft is reeling it all in. Do you really want an LG INCITE running webOS????
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Old 01/21/2009, 03:38 PM   #13 (permalink)
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The absolute worst thing palm can do is outsource the OS to manufacturers like sony-ericsson, LG, etc. Palm specializes in handsets while LG makes refridgerators. While it would get a much wide market and demographic, the result would be several Pre-clones made at substandard cost, and be nothing but trouble to both carriers, customers, and the reps that handle it all. WinMob got too MUCH market saturation and now Microsoft is reeling it all in. Do you really want an LG INCITE running webOS????
I tend to agree. Palm has said they want control of their own destiny. I would anticipate that they'd see licensing webOS as leading to a rerun of the PalmSource situation. Some might say "they can learn from that experience and do it differently"--my question is differently how? It's not whether there's an actual conflict of interest by being both the OS developer and one of multiple manufacturers--it's that there's no clear way to remove the apparent conflict of interest.

Remember, they tried to buy PalmSource and were outbid. The management team that did the spinoff of PalmSource is long gone, and both Hawkins and Colligan, in 2006, made comments on podcasts that sounded like they would not have spun it off had they been there at the time.

And of the groups you cite that might have trouble--another is developers. They'd have to support as broad a range of hardware as possible (look at Garnet or WinMob apps--there are often multiple versions for different devices or caveats of what devices/features are not supported).

For the time being at least, licensing would just add complexity at a time when most companies look to be streamlining and simplifying the options to device buyers.
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Old 04/20/2009, 01:04 PM   #14 (permalink)
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can;t see palm licensing web OS. not unless they are desperate.

If the pre is a big enough hit, all of the other carriers will want it , or a version of it.
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Old 05/17/2009, 06:10 AM   #15 (permalink)
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They just added Android. By your logic, every carrier in the world that doesn't carry every single smartphone OS (I'd guess that would be every carrier in the world) is keeping its smartphone OSes limited to what they carry "at this point" - until they add the next OS.
T-Mobile has made it pretty clear that they're dedicated to Android. I don't see why they'd sign on with WebOS when they're really focusing on getting excitement for Android. Of course there's a chance, but it's not likely.
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Old 05/17/2009, 11:16 AM   #16 (permalink)
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T-Mobile has made it pretty clear that they're dedicated to Android. I don't see why they'd sign on with WebOS when they're really focusing on getting excitement for Android. Of course there's a chance, but it's not likely.
T mobile will push whatever they can get their hands on... remember, these are phone companies pushing contracts... not an OS or phone.

Plus, I doubt if anyone believes that Android will stay with t mobile for long... google has bigger plans. I played with a G1 last week... okay phone, can't say it excited me though... Some interesting stuff going on with it... not enough to move me from a BB or windows device.

But a phone company looking into the future would more than likely bet on Android vs. Palm OS... android, at this point, has more of a chance to "make it" long term.
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Old 06/01/2009, 08:47 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I spoke to a sprint manager about this. He had received an email stating that the palm pre would be available to Verizon in less than a year, which he stated is not true but Verizon is smart for saying that because it helps to retain customers who are thinking of switching to Sprint just for the Pre.
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Old 06/02/2009, 11:41 PM   #18 (permalink)
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The obvious answer is yes, they should license it.

But will they? Not in the near term.

The Sony fiasco was due to PalmSource not innovating enough, and jacking up the fees to replace the cash they were bleeding from other areas.

The real question is whether other device makers would embrace it.
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Old 06/03/2009, 06:01 PM   #19 (permalink)
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i suggest palm do a research on this topic, if it makes sense for them, by all means.
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Old 06/07/2009, 11:16 PM   #20 (permalink)
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The absolute worst thing palm can do is outsource the OS to manufacturers like sony-ericsson, LG, etc. Do you really want an LG INCITE running webOS????
I disagree that Palm shouldn't license out webOS, but perhaps LG isn't the right licensee... Palm *should* be careful. But history has shown that despite the PalmSource fiasco, which also should not be repeated, that nevertheless, Palm itself has not really been capable at push its own good idea forward in an sufficiently aggressive way. The Pre is certainly not a great example of well-timed careful planning... more like pulling out a last-ditch winner at the 11th hour...

Anyone think that HTC starts making webOS devices, either for Palm (like the Treo Pro arrangement), or more interestly on its own, licensing webOS from Palm.

PalmOS was once the strongest multivendor PDA OS on the market, with devices from Samsung, Qualcomm/Kyocera, Sony, Handspring and others I can't remember (one company made a DickTracy-style Palm watch)... I still think that one of the biggest mistakes that Palm made was to let that strong OEM market for PalmOS die... indeed those fumbles led to the loss of control of PalmOS from Palm itself.

It is a FACT that many of the best innovations on PalmOS were developed by its OEMs, not by Palm, particularly Sony, who pioneered a greater range of display options, and Handspring and Qualcomm, who pioneered the Palm smartphone (what would become the Treo). Palm was rather stagnant without the egging of its OEMs...

So I really hope that Palm lets others run with webOS... Palm otherwise has a poor record of developing and timely-delivering its own products with sufficient vigor... Palm isn't going to be RIM, certainly not on its own.

Perhaps HTC would be interested in developing *complementary* webOS devices to Palm's offerings. They seem to have the capacity to engage in such things...
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