Is the Palm OS Dying? Should You Care?

James A. Martin
PC World
Wednesday, April 30, 2008; 4:19 AM

Recently, I was talking to an executive at a smart phone software developer. The company had recently released new versions of its software for RIM BlackBerrys, Windows Mobile Smartphones, and other devices--but not for Palm OS smart phones. I asked why.

"It's a dying platform," she replied, matter-of-factly.

Her reaction wasn't surprising, given Palm's long, slow slide from top PDA maker to third-tier smart phone vendor. There's been uncertainty about the Palm OS's future for years. Palm Treosrunning   Windows Mobilebecame available in January 2006. And Palm has been developing a new, as-of-this-writing-unreleased Linux-based OS for what feels like an eternity.

Still, the software executive's comment aroused mixed feelings.

I've been a Palm loyalist since 1997, when I became hooked on the Palm V. Currently, I use aTreo 755p. I've always found the Palm OS to be easy-to-use and efficient. Palm devices are reliable and sturdy; I've rarely encountered problems with the five I've owned.

And yet.

My Treo has been looking extremely dowdy of late, compared to theApple iPhone,AT&T Tilt,LG Electronics Voyager, and other slick smart phones. Neither the Palm OS nor devices running it have evolved noticeably in years.

In short, I've got a strong urge to stray from my Treo. I have no doubt many of you have felt similar urges--and even acted upon them.

Does that mean it's time to ditch our Palm devices? Not necessarily. Here are four reasons why Palm OS smart phones are still worth owning.

The iPhone/iPod Touch screen is gorgeous, bright, and big, by smart phone standards. But it can be a bit too "touchy." For instance, on my iPod Touch I've often clicked accidentally on an e-mail and opened it when I was simply trying to scroll through the list of messages. The more I use the iPod Touch for e-mail, the less it happens, but still, it's annoying. The iPhone/iPod Touch screen also makes it a bit too easy to accidentally click a link on a Web page. I've rarely had these problems with the Treo's touch screen.

By the way, current BlackBerrys don't have touch screens, though there have been rumors that atouch-screen BlackBerryis on the way.

Palm smart phones ship with tons of useful software preinstalled, including Dataviz's Documents To Go (for editing and viewing Microsoft Office files), Voice Memo, Camcorder, Camera, Memos, Tasks, e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging, Web browsing, Calendar, Contacts, and software for playing multimedia files.

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