BeOS and Palm Tragedy

Posted: August 26, 2011 in Business, Technology

Apple decided not to go with BeOS, and went with NeXTSTEP.  But whatever happened to BeOS afterwards?  Well, as I recall, Be was sold to Palm Source, the software company that made the PalmOS.

BeOS 5 Demo

Before, in the marketplace for smart devices (called PDA – Personal Digital Assistant), PalmOS did not seem competitive to Microsoft’s Windows CE or Windows PocketPC.  For around $400, you could buy a Palm device that had black and white graphics, and a very minimal simplistic features.  Palm’s management felt that users wanted simplicity, and they stuck to their gun as their market share was dwindling.Palm Pilot Image

The Palm offerings were not attractive to many devices running WinCE (Windows Compact Edition) in the marketplace, especially to the Compaq iPAQ that was selling for around $400 as well.  These devices had color graphics, audio playback, audio recording, expansion options, more memory, and more robust applications including many graphically rich video games. The WinCE supported multiple languages, and could synchronize with Outlook and Exchange email server.  Each version of the device had more features, and the Palm’s offerings seem stagnated.

iPaq 3700 Image

Palm acquired the rights Be OS in 2001. The software division of Palm, called Palm Source, spun off in 2003 and was itself was acquired by a Japanese company named Access in 2005. Palm One or Palm, Inc. (hardware company), started using Windows Mobile OS (aka WinCE or Windows PocketPC) in favor of Palm OS in 2006.

In years following, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android system would become the dominant smart device systems, and Palm OS along with Be OS disappeared into obscurity.  Today, Access still sells a version of the Palm OS called Garnet OS that is said to integrate some components of Be OS, but it seems Be OS as a system is no more.

Palm went on to develop WebOS to succeed Palm OS in 2009.  Web OS is promising technologically, but this did not help them in the marketplace as they already lost the race against Apple iPhone/iPad onslaught.

HP (Hewlett Packard) acquired Palm in 2010 as they hoped to enter the mobile device market with a new tablet form-factor running Web OS.  One year later in 2011, the current infamous CEO of HP killed off the division.  The reasoning apparently is that there is lack of interest in the marketplace for the TouchPad, but I suspect in reality this decision has more to do with poor execution of bad strategy, lack of insight, and mismanagement.

Web OS Image

I feel saddened that great innovations are destroyed.  I wish somehow they could have survived, maybe as open source.


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