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  1.    #1  
    I heard an old friend died recently. To be honest, we had lost touch in the last few years (pretty much once they decided Australia was no place to be), but I had continued to follow their fortunes online, soooo wanting them to return, and I always hoped they would regain their former glory. Alas, it was not to be.

    So RIP Palm, my old friend, I will miss you.

    In all seriousness though, It's been years since I've posted here, so I thought I'd share the musings of an old Palm zealot a decade and a half after I first fell for some of the most innovative technology in recent history, and how, like many relationships, it went south sooner than it should've over a bunch of little things, and some silly choices on both our parts.

    I suppose I should start by apologising right away for the length of the post, as my walks down memory lane tend to meander drunkenly. I suppose it's important to note that I've been an IT dork for over a quarter of a century, but these are easily-recalled memories for me...

    I guess it all started with the lust I felt for the original Pilots. Having had a succession of early electronic organisers from Casio, Sharp et al, with their fixed, basic functions, limited or no PC backup (let alone the concept of, *gasp*, 'syncing'), teenie tiny memory capacity (64K, 128K) etc, the capability that the original Pilots displayed was astonishing. Admittedly, their cost was enough to put them on my wife's radar, and it wasn't until the Palm III hit the streets that I was allowed to get one. It was a knockout for a tech junkie like me. When software connectors came out to sync your data to other apps, like Outlook - oh yeah!

    And form factor? Compared to that other 'revolutionary' PDA, the Apple Newton, the Palm was a revelation. What it lacked in sheer power and multimedia capabilities compared to the Newton, it made up for many times over in pocketability - as the Newton's short life demonstrated.

    I even tricked my III out with an Option GSM clip-on modem that plugged straight into my Nokia 6110. Now, I hardly ever used it because there was stuff-all out there that worked on a little screen, but hey, I had one.

    Skipping a few releases, my next Palm was the m505. Nice. Really nice. And then I started lusting over the new breed of early smartphones like the Kyocera 7135 clamshell (a mate had one), and the early full-keyboard Treos from Handspring (270, 300). But when I saw early spy shots of the Treo 600, I was a goner. Say hello to my little friend! Great form factor, mobile data, web browser, expandable storage as well as now-ubiquitous gee-whiz items like the ringer switch and camera. One-handed use was a breeze.

    The 600 was a flawed masterpiece. Call quality was diabolically bad, the camera quality was worse, the screen was old skool, but I loved it - until the 650 hit the streets. That bad boy fixed everything that was wrong with the 600 (all of the above plus the protruding SD card), improved everything that wasn't wrong (the keyboard, added user replaceable battery and flash memory) and added other cool stuff (like bluetooth). Compared to the corporate control freak device of the time, the Blackberry, and the Windows Mobile devices of the day, it was no contest in my view. Besides, with BB Connect on the 650, I was still partying with the big boys. Those were the days. The PalmOS interface was fast and simple.

    And now it gets sketchy. I consider the next few years "the dark ages": Palm lost its way and dicked around trying to find it again. And Windows Mobile Treos were born. I had a 750, which was ok, and a Treo Pro, which was a paragon among the rest of the Windoze Slowbile multiverse in that it worked really well 90% of the time. WinMob was its Achilles Heel though. WinMob basically ruined the experience of any device it was loaded on.

    Even my last WinMob phone, a HTC HD2, a 1Ghz, 4.3" screened behemoth that I considered the best WM experience money could buy, still had infuriating slowdowns, stutters and freezes with WM. An OS that had been around nearly as long as PalmOS, it had hobbled itself by trying to be everything to everyone, and had tried to shoehorn a desktop metaphor into tiny screen real estate. As an OS, it shared the PalmOS fate, and was completely dropped in favour of a ground-up shiny new OS. webOS, meet Windows Phone. It's testament to devices like the HD2 that people are reflashing them with Windows Phone 7 and it runs it fine. Also pretty damning to old WM.

    But I had a HD2 because after the Treo Pro came there was, well, nothing. Not in Oz, not from Palm. Did I miss my physical keyboard? Yep. But only 10% of the time. Ringer switch? Also yes, but only 10% of the time. And that game changer, the iPhone, had shown that not only were physical keyboards matched by virtual ones (90% of the time), so were the majority of the other buttons. I also stayed with WM because of Microsoft Communicator Mobile, so an early leap into any other platform wasn't on the cards, so the best WM phone ever (from a brute hardware perspective) seemed a good choice.

    But I had hope. Because hot on the heels of the iPhone came another astonishing Palm device, the Pre. Which was announced almost at the exact same time Palm decided to pull out of Oz, so by the time it was released, Palm was nowhere to be seen around these parts. I played with webOS via the emulator on my tablet PC, and thought its usage paradigm was a wonder, and marvelled at the devious minds that could craft such a thing of beauty. I just knew it would rock my world all over again - once it rocked the rest of the world enough for Palm to be King of the World again, and come back to Oz.

    Alas, that day never came. I blame myself. I think I gave Palm the curse of the black jellybean.

    You see, I have a habit of picking technically superior technology made by engineering-focused companies who couldn't market their way out of a paper bag. Some examples? Let's see, I bought 100VG AnyLAN gear, because token-passing was obviously better than contention-based networking. I became a Novell CNE, because it was obvious Microsoft would never supplant them for file and print servers. Laserdisc was the obvious high quality step up from the technically superior Beta tape format, the 2.88Meg floppy, Zip drives, Jazz drives, HD-DVD (actually, not technically superior, but I was a fan of anything invented by Toshiba - man, there's a company of innovators who don't know how to sell) and the list goes on.

    So last year, I found myself needing a new phone, and off I went to the Telstra Shop to manhandle all the devices to see what would be "the best". Technically, operationally, aesthetically. Unfortunately, a flash of pragmatism came over me as I realised I was comparing phone specs (screen size and res, processor, memory etc) with the gorilla, the iPhone 4. So I bought an iPhone, and my separation with Palm became a divorce. I got to keep the kids, but they all live in a drawer now, after other family members loved them to death.

    But I hated myself. I had gone to the dark side. HP had bought Palm months before I jumped, but we STILL couldn't get Pre's in Australia without importing them for ludicrous sums, and Palm under HP's banner and with HP's wallet was still more talk than action. But I was here in the dark, hoping the rabid fan-thingies didn't notice me, not wanting all the teens and 20-somethings in my circle to spot the iPhone and try to "skool" the old timer in these new fangled smartphones. "Do you have any games?" "Did you know you can listen to music and watch videos on it?" "Look, you can check your email and read an e-book - that means e-lectronic book!" "You can surf the Web dude!" Give me a damn break!

    Ok, spoiler alert. I'm probably going to start to rant here. You have been warned.

    It always amazes me the things people find they are now able to do thanks to Apple that I was doing years earlier on Palms. I mean, I have nothing against companies being successful, but to rewrite history, even, it seems, the very interpretation of law as you do it, that's a skill they don't teach you when you do your MBA. Case in point, just look at the patent wars Apple is engaged in at the moment.

    Patent law is so messed up that the concept of pre-existing art doesn't seem to matter anymore. I don't understand how a judge can hear Apple argue that Samsung copied the iPhone and the iPad without taking Apple to task for the very same thing. Did the iPhone pioneer the whole-of-phone touchscreen with a virtual keyboard? No. Windows Mobile devices had that years before.

    Did the iPad pioneer the concept of an all-in-one slate format device? No. I remember lusting after Motion slates for years before the iPad was an itch in Stevie's pants. Did the iPod pioneer digital music? No. That was actually invented in the late 70's, and became a mainstream capability years before the iPod was launched. Did the iMac pioneer the concept of the all-in-one PC. Hell no.

    Apple has even copied discrete features from my dear friend Palm over the years. Hello ringer switch. Howdy iOS 5 notifications. Even developers working the iOS platform with jailbreak-only apps see their work gone in 60 seconds. Hello wireless hotspot. Hi there WiFi sync. What Apple does masterfully is take a good idea, and make it outstanding. It makes it seem so good, so integrated, it must never have existed before. "Dude, my iPhone has VPN". Hello Movian VPN client for PalmOS.

    And now, with Stevie stepping aside, we see page after page of his Greatest Hits - the quotes that describe Apple's character. Quotes like "Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?", and "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me". Unfortunately, these quotes come from Apple's underdog days, when Microsoft was the big, bad gorilla (yes, the Microsoft that invested in Apple), and Bill Gates was the devil. Everyone likes an underdog. I've even been an anti-microsoft guy myself in the past. Actually, more like an anti-establishment guy. Now, Apple IS the establishment.

    Today, Steve heads up one of the most ruthless, controlling corporate entities in existance (don't think for one second Chairman means gone), and Bill Gates has retired and is using his bazillions curing disease in the Third World. What is wrong with this picture? One of Steve's quotable quotes about Microsoft is "maybe they should copy us?". God help you, apparently, if you do. Ahhh irony: delicious with a side of scepticism.

    Now, considering I have an iPhone (and an iPad, for full disclosure, but I have had various Tablet PC's for near on 10 years), having a tanty about Apple may seem hypocritical, but I am angry because Apple's method of operation and their subsequent roaring success almost forces me to have to make those choices. I am also mildly annoyed at the sycophantic Gen-Y (and even some Gen-X) twats who write for the popular press gushing over the contribution Apple has made to humanity.

    Let me give you an example. I'm not going to link to the story, but this article, from someone who may be mid-thirties at the oldest, was treacle-thick with fan-thingie madness, and ended with "He knows the secret to dying well is living true. I cry for our loss. But I rejoice my life has been imbued by his creations and I hope that I die as he will - deeply satisfied with what I've done and who I am."

    Seriously??? SERIOUSLY???

    THAT is why I am livid with HP. I wanted Palm to give me choice. I wanted the Pre 3 and Touchpad to succeed. It had all the right ingredients, it just needed the recipe refined over a couple of iterations, like my wife's cooking (although that always seems to need more iterations - shhh! don't tell her I said that! ). Palm had a pedigree of real innovation, it has (or had) a patent portfolio that ensured the Applenaut couldn't take it to the cleaners for daring to include a touchscreen. webOS took clever usability to the next level.

    And HP, like the big, fat quitter it has become, fired one real shot, missed a target and went "Oh, big sigh. I am le tired. Poopsies. Go homes now. Que sera, sera" and pulled the frickin' pin. Damn them. Damn them to hell in a Ford Pinto. They robbed me of my choice, and made me choose between iOS and that other lot of rabid cowboys. From this day forth, in my role advising big business on Infrastructure Investments, when someone wants to fit out a Data Centre with big iron, I'll be pointing out that HP are an "Enterprise Software" company now and, "no, you don't want those servers. Here, let me show you the Dell and IBM equivalents. Look what they did with their Personal Systems division. Can the Enterprise Hardware lines be next? Will that hardware be supported in a year? Two?"

    Damn you again HP. You killed my friend, but I will make you pay!

    Of course, I'm sure some webOS optimists will duly correct me, saying that rumors of Palm's demise are greatly exaggerated, and I hope, I sooo hope that's true. But I am a realist too.

    There. I think I found my way to the end of that ramble quite nicely. I hope, if you're lunatic enough to have read this far, that my meandering path hasn't made you dizzy. On that note, let the flames begin!!!
    Last edited by wallen; 09/08/2011 at 01:26 PM.
  2. #2  
    Interesting and yes long read unless you have your Mac read it for me. Either way, I can relate completely! Sorli...
  3. #3  
    The other day I managed to sync my old centro after my computer was wiped clean, and then sync it to another centro. Was reading thru the help questions on the software and realized how miles ahead was palm OS. Wish they had tried running Palm OS on ARM architecture with all the goodies of webOS. Then we would have started with 30,000 apps. And please classic was not even close to Palm OS. If classic could run I am sure if they tried Palm OS would have run on ARM architecture as well.
    If this helped you hit thanks.

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