HP CTO Confirms the Future of Palm Smartphones and Devices

There was a lot of nervousness among WebOS developers when the HP CEO make statements that sounded like HP wasn’t going to pursue the Smartphone market, but this video interview with the HP CTO says differently. He basically states that HP is going into the Smarphone market and pretty much leaving Palm intact and running as usual. What HP brings to the WebOS effort, is bigger marketing and more support for the promotion of WebOS Smartphones and devices.

For developers like myself, this is very encouraging news. I can’t wait to see new HP/Palm phones come out in addition to tablets and other WebOS-powered devices. An exciting time for mobile developers.

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Palm, Inc. alive and kicking?

With the HP merger just about a month away from completion, Palm has been very quiet lately with regards to their development plans. We haven’t seen a WebOS update, any mention of new Palm phones, or talk about WebOS tablets. I guess this is just par for the course when it comes with business mergers.

As such, there’s been a lot of doom-and-gloom speculation that HP will kill off Palm’s smartphone business and just take their intellectual property and WebOS technology (supposedly to be used on their printers, etc.). That may be true, but I don’t think so.

Currently, Palm is running a “bonus program” (which is basically a contest) to encourage developers to create WebOS apps. It seems to be working, as there’s numerous apps appearing on the Palm App Catalog weekly. This bonus program has a total payout of 1 Million Dollars, so it’s a big investment on Palm’s part. After this bonus program contest is over, Palm is planning to hold another 1 Million Dollar contest to encourage developers in creating apps that utilize their PDK capabilities (which is basically porting existing C++ applications (games) to the Palm devices).

Finally, Palm has initiated a 50%-Off sale on the Palm App Catalog to help promote app purchases. They are subsidizing the cost for developers, so they are paying the 50% difference. Again, that is another expense being paid by Palm to continue promoting the WebOS apps on the Palm devices.

So, it seems that Palm is alive and kicking, doing what they can while remaining quiet during the HP merger. I’m sure once the merger is complete, we’ll see a flood of information pouring out of Palm (hopefully!). 🙂

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Palm Apps 50% Off Sale

Palm is now running a 50% off sale for all apps on the Palm Catalog. So, now’s the time to get your apps at half-price until July 9th. The obvious reason, is that Palm is encouraging users to buy apps for their Palm devices which might have larger implications. For example, this might indicate if users feel that the price for these apps are too high and that is why they haven’t purchased them. The sale also helps to advertise the fact that the Palm devices do indeed have numerous apps available.

Luckily, Palm is subsidizing this sale for developers, so they are paying developers the 50% difference. Thus, this sale is completely promoted by Palm with no sacrifice in revenue for the developers. Very nice, Palm.

Posted in Deals, WebOS | Leave a comment

Should I get a Mac?

Steve Jobs is just brilliant. Although Apple has always had a very small percentage of the market for personal computers (compared to Microsoft) he seems to have a plan to increase that percentage through the marketing of other products. It started with the iPod, then the iPhone, then the iPod Touch. Now with the release of the iPad, I believe Apple is building up momentum to increase their Apple Mac computer sales dramatically.

I can say that I for one, feel affected by this movement. I don’t own an iPod, iPhone, or iTouch, but my wife has an iPad and I see the appeal in the quick and intuitive interface. And there’s much to say to the “It Just Works” concept (compared to the sometimes overly complicated Microsoft Windows / Windows Mobile OS).

Last year I experimented with switching from my Custom built Intel Dual-Core Windows Vista desktop system to a Mac Mini, but ultimately returned the Mac Mini for a number of reasons. The biggest complaint I had was the fuzziness of the displayed text on my LCD monitor. Microsoft Windows uses their ClearType technology which produces very sharp text on the screen, while Apple uses their own font-rendering method that results in a more softer or fuzzy text. I’ve read comments from Mac users stating that the reverse is true, in that the Microsoft text is blurry and the Mac text is clear, so I guess it’s really subjective. In my case, the Mac text fuzziness was just too much for me to handle.

The second reason for returning the Mac Mini, was that the OS was so different from what I was use to using Microsoft Windows. Now, I’ve used UNIX machines in the past for my work and I love the scripting capabilities, but the general overall UI for the Mac OSX was just too different. The equivalent of Microsoft’s File Explorer (Finder on the Mac) seemed incomplete, and a lot of other features in Windows that I used routinely were missing from the Mac OSX. That’s not to say I couldn’t get use to it and learn to embrace the better features of OSX, it’s just that years and years of using the Microsoft Windows OS has made it a comfortable environment for me.

A third reason would be the cost associated with Apple products. The Mac Mini that I purchased cost roughly $700 which had a Dual Core Intel Processor, 2 GB of RAM, 5400 RPM Hard Drive, and built-in WiFi. I can’t remember exactly what the Processor speed and disk drive size was, but it wasn’t very much. When compared to a Windows PC-based system, I was able to create a new system that used a Intel Quad Core Processor, 4 GB RAM, 500 MB 7200 RPM Disk drive with Wireless N Adapter for roughly $500 (with Windows 7 OS). So the performance and value is greater with a home built Windows-based system when compared to a stock Apple Mac Mini.

Finally, I had a big investment in hardware and software for my PVR system (to record TV shows and process them for my Zune HD player) which would be difficult to duplicate on a Mac Mini system. I could no longer use my TV Tuner card (PCI-based), and would need to get a USB-based capture system. Then there’s the software to drive the PVR, which currently I use Microsoft Media Center (included with Windows 7). Of course, I could probably search around and find something that would be comparable but it seems I might have some problems getting my converted media onto my Zune (since there’s no equivalent Zune syncing software for the Mac (so far as I know..)).

The reason why I’m now reconsidering getting a Mac, is for software development. It might be that I invest in a Mac Mini as a secondary system, used for developing Mac desktop apps, iPhone apps, and iPad apps. I get a lot of users asking for equivalent apps that I have for WebOS to run on the Mac/iPhone/iPad products, so that may be reason enough.

So to prepare myself I’ve order some Mac programming books from Amazon.com to educate myself on how to write Mac apps. It should be a good primer so I can decide whether it’s worth the investment in a Mac Mini. Wish me luck, and if you have any suggestions for Mac programming books, tips, etc. please let me know! 🙂

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My quick review of the Sprint HTC EVO

My wife recently switched from her Blackberry to the new Sprint HTC EVO, and I had a chance to play around with it for a little bit this morning. Here are my thoughts:

The phone IS big. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s also very heavy. Holding it reminded me of holding my extinct Dell x60V Pocket PC PDA device. Anyone who says the phone isn’t big or heavy is just crazy. And after my wife put on a rubber backing case the EVO got even bigger!

Differences between the EVO and Palm Pre/Pixi:

First, I couldn’t find a way to do multitasking (such as minimizing cards in WebOS) so I could only work on one app at a time. From what I understand you can do multitasking with the Android OS, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Next, the available apps are all displayed as icons on a single screen, so you need to do a lot of vertical scrolling to find the desired app. You might be able to have multiple screens with icons… I just didn’t know how to set that up.

When you dive into the phone’s settings screen, there’s lots and lots of options. A little too confusing when setting up and activating 4G, WiFi, etc. In the end I couldn’t tell if I was using 4G, 3G, or WiFi when I was accessing the internet.

Unlike in WebOS, you can’t simply tap the top header bar to change some basic system settings. If you try to, you get the pull down “shade” which shows your notifications. The settings are configured by tapping on the home button (at the bottom of the screen) and then tapping on the “Settings” button.

What I really missed when playing around with the EVO is the gesture area in WebOS. I was so use to back swiping and flicking cards off the screen and not being able to do so on the EVO was a bit frustrating. Also, overall the graphic touches in the WebOS environment are much nicer than the Android OS (in my opinion). Android just seemed a little to sterile compared to WebOS or the Apple iPhone OS.

What I found nice, was how fast the EVO ran in general. Also, the connect speeds using WiFi and 4G was really fast when web browsing. Web pages were popping up very quickly, almost like on my Desktop PC. Luckily, we live in the Seattle area where the 4G network is somewhat widespread (thanks to Clearwire).

So in the end, playing around with the EVO for a small bit of time just made me appreciate my Palm Pixi phone with the WebOS. There’s a big trade off between having a smartphone with a big screen and portability, and for me I choose portability.

Posted in EVO, Pixi, WebOS | 4 Comments

HTC EVO to arrive at my home tomorrow

No, I didn’t jump ship and get the Sprint HTC EVO… but my wife did. She has been using a Sprint Blackberry phone for the last year and ordered the EVO last week. Why did she do that? She stated that after using the iPad’s swipe-tap gesture interface she wanted a phone that had the same operating feel. If the iPhone was available with Sprint, she would have switched to that, but because the iPhone isn’t available on the Sprint network she went with the EVO.

She excluded the Palm Pre because of several factors:

  • The HTC EVO has the latest hardware technology
  • The Android OS is very similar to the iPhone OS (and WebOS)
  • The Palm Pre’s screen was a bit too small for her taste
  • The EVO was $199 with a $100 Rebate offer, costing her only $99
  • With such ambiguous statements from HP’s CEO with regards to their dedication to the smartphone market, my wife decided to not jump into the Palm Pre/Pixi realm

Personally, I think the EVO is a BIG phone, a little too big for my use. But, I won’t know for sure until I see one in person. Hopefully, my wife will like the Android OS (but, I think she’ll find it somewhat different than the iPad or iPhone/iTouch).

For myself, I’m hoping Palm/HP/Sprint continues to sell new WebOS phones in the near future, with faster processors, slightly bigger screens, and more features. And throw in a WebOS Tablet while you’re at it! 🙂

Posted in EVO, iPad, WebOS | Leave a comment

WiFi Router issues… ugh

Last night my Belkin N+ Wireless Router stopped working, which ended life as-you-know-it in my household. Since all of our various computers, laptops, etc. connect via WiFi, everything was down. My desktop PC and laptop, my wife’s laptop and iPad, and my son’s laptop were all offline. Horrors!!! It’s amazing how dependent we’ve all become connected to the Internet in our daily lives.

Fortunately, I purchased this Belkin Router from my local Costco store last November and I still had the receipt and packaging. So the next day I boxed everything up and headed to Costco to get a refund. That’s the nice thing about buying merchandise from Costco– they have a no hassle return policy and usually don’t ask any questions. In this case, the Costco clerk actually took a lot of time making sure I returned everything that was listed on the outside of the box (she questioned what an “Ethernet Cable” was). Luckily, I packed away everything so I was in good shape.

So after my quick return I headed to the computer accessories aisle and picked up a D-Link Xtreme N router. It was about $30 more than what I paid for the defective Belkin Router, but I wanted to give D-Link a try and see if their stuff was more reliable.

Within 20 minutes I got the new router installed and working in my house again. This router had almost the same set of features as the old Belkin Router, so I didn’t lose any capability. Hopefully, it will last more than just 7 months before crapping out. And if it does, I’ll just take another trip back to Costco for a refund.

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