Keynote Speech to open the conference
David Nagel, was given a very brief introduction as one was not really needed. He is known by all, whether personally or by reputation. I suppose it's sort of like when you introduce Bill Gates or the President. Anything you say probably just falls short, so you make it simple and to the point.
He pointed out immediately that the name of the conference was changed from DevCon to Mobile Summit & DevCon because they wanted to focus on opportunity, and how this is a jumping off point for the entire mobile industry. There were some interesting figures given, about how the traditional PDA market is pretty much steady, but the market for all mobile devices is skyrocketing. PalmOS market share in the US has actually grown from 2003-2005 by about 5-10pts against Windows Mobile.
But everything will be networked in the future. There are about 700 million phones that will be sold in the next year. Many of those will be intelligent phones, so there's a tremendous market, and PalmSource wants a big piece of the 2.5 and 3G phones. Shares for various "communicator" devices were interesting also, with RIM at 38%, PalmOS at 23%, Windows Mobile at 17%, and Symbian and others below that. Kyocera sold 500,000 of one smartphone running PalmOS that he said beats all MS Smartphones sold during that period.
It sounds like PalmSource wants to provide a complete platform solution to carriers that can be customized for look and feel but is easy to adopt. They want to move down from the smaller communicator phone market to also supply for the 3g and feature phone markets with much larger revenues.
He said that only a multitasking, fully threaded OS will satisfy consumers. Don't know if he was implying that we need Cobalt (a stretch I think), or that we will see just that when Cobalt on Linux comes out (more likely).
Ed Colligan was one of the many guests speaking during the first keynote address. He's President and CEO of PalmOne, of course, but it will become Palm once again due to a new agreement. In addition, probably the best news of the weekend is that there is a 5yr extension of the agreement to license PalmOS, so they're in the market to stay for the forseeable future.
Ed said that the PalmOne vision was for:
2) Ease of Use
3) Unrivaled Customer Experience
He mentioned that it was coincidence due to the general capabilities of the platform, not coordination, that brought out a really great media player right before the LifeDrive. I assume he was referring to Picard's new player, but I'm not sure.
There are 3 major trends driving product development at PalmOne...
1) Everything going digital
This is best embodied in the LifeDrive with it's capacity to hold files and with its wifi connectivity. You didn't see people with all kinds of files on laptops until recently, but it's exploded because of the demand for it. We'll see the same explosion for pdas.
There are about 651 email business email boxes (users). Less than 2% are deployed as mobile email. That means there's a huge untapped market. I suppose he's thinking along the lines of the shoe salemen that went to an island where nobody wore shoes. One wrote back and said there's no market here because no one wears shoes. The other wrote back and said it's the best market I've ever seen -- everyone here needs shoes. Ed Colligan is like the second salesman, but I'm not sure if everyone needs mobile email yet.
3) Hi Speed Data Networks.
He talked about how the next killer mobile application is simply going to be the web and web commerce. Makes sense, but I think there's even more potential as hi speed data networks become cheaper and better. The problem is that the business models are all pointing toward mobile phone carriers. Large user base, growing market, and new data services. Those bring in great revenues because the customers are pretty much trapped into one carrier's services. They want those services very much, but can't shop around much once they sign a contract. That means that PalmSource, Palm, Microsoft, app developers are all going to gravitate toward the money, and your pocket will be emptied by data and data services and content over the air. But maybe a necessary evil. I'm not sure yet.
PalmOne's goal is to be the leading mobile computing company in the world, not the biggest handset maker in the world.
By the way, I was very impressed by Ed Colligan's speech, and perspective. It really gave me a lot more confidence in PalmOne for the future. And while some developers are reaching decision points about Palm vs MS, I don't see signs of a mass exodus on the surface so far. People seem pretty much business as usual, and under the assumption that things are fine. Personally, I am concerned until Cobalt and Cobalt on Linux is a success, but there are certainly a lot of reasons to be optimistic when in the worst of days they have found a way to not only survive, but be profitable.
Cingular, Orange, SmartGlobal and others spoke a lot about wireless opportunities and there was a general plea from all sides to developers to make their apps wireless enabled. IBM had a speaker that emphasized all the infrastructure built to support enterprise business applications that extend out to the PalmOS world.
I was most impressed with Francis Li of GSPDA (Group Sense PDA Ltd.), which is a company out of Hong Kong that already has PalmOS Garnet smartphones on the market throughout Asia, is coming to Europe and Asia with its latest phones and is coming next to the US. They are working on a Cobalt phone, and plan to bring it to market by end of the year. No one at the conference seemed too enthusiastic about that, but I think that's a big deal. In fact, when David Nagel announced all the news about Palm and the extension of the contract with PalmOne and various other good news, no one seemed very impressed. I thought it was one of those twighlight zone moments when it seemed like I was in another world. I started to clap while in complete amazement that everyone else seemed to be sleeping or something, but the applause did pick up a bit, but was only slightly enthusiastic. Maybe developers aren't thinking about that kind of thing too much.
Powered Up Awards and SplashBlog
I'm sure this will be posted on the PalmSource web site, but they announced the awards. There was a demo of SplashBlog also, which was very interesting. You basically just take a picture with your Treo and then send it to the blog you have set up. Easy photo blogging. Here's some pics SplashBlogged from DevCon.. http://www.splashblog.com/devcon2005/
I saw someone taking notes with a Dana. Had a full keyboard and an lcd black and white screen. Didn't look like the display was adequate and was hard to read. I kept noticing him bending over to see it. But it was certainly interesting.
The PalmSource Installer 1.5 was announced and demo'd. Demo'd could probably stand equally well for demonstrated or demolished! The idea was to download an app two ways. Once by a geek as a .zip file and once by the new installer that makes it simple. Except it didn't work so well either for the geek or the "grandma" character they used. In fact, rather than a one button press to download and install the app, it turned out instead that grandma managed to crash the Treo with just one click of the installer! Oh well. It turned out to be fine because "grandma" knew just how to deal with all the error messages and presto the app was ready to use.
But regardless of any poking fun, it's big progress. The market needs to be open to the average user and everything needs to be less techy. Their goal is to make the installer a part of the platform. They also claim that it only takes 15mins to installer enable your application, so it may not be a big deal to implement on the developer side. Whether developers like the sales channel is a different question that will have to be worked out.
Suggestions from David Nagel
To wrap up, David gave some suggestions to the developers on hand.
1) Think wireless
2) Develop on Cobalt/Protein, and be ready for Cobalt on Linux
He said specifically that devices (plural!) ARE in the pipeline for Cobalt. He said PalmSource is dedicated to helping developers make it work on Cobalt and will provide help. It's a very important next step.
3) Make the installer part of the standard platform so anyone can install software
4) Leverage the economy and relationships PalmSource has built with wireless carriers
He reminded everyone again that the Palm economy is working, and gave thanks to the people he has worked with over the last four years. He said it's been "a wonderful ride." There was a very warm standing ovation for him to honor him as he steps down, and I think people really view him fondly. It was a touching moment, and I hope he finds great joy and success in whatever new ventures come next for him.
One final bit of great news for me. The deals at the Palm Store were in fact 40% off everything that was offered. One model per person limit, of course. I hope people don't abuse it and only get what they need for themselves. When they run out, that's the end of the deal. And the line was extremely long. Only 50 LifeDrives arrived. 100 were expected. So they are allowing orders at the special rate for LifeDrive only when they are gone from the store.
I have to say one thing. LifeDrive is awesome! I played with one and although it was only a brief moment, I'd have to say that it confirms everything you heard from Sammy about how wonderful it is. I don't have any concerns about that slight delay due to the microdrive spinning up, and second time it's instand due to caching. The screen is beautiful. The device feels solid, and not too big, not too heavy. It's really really nice. I would have bought it except for one thing. My girlfriend actually provided a lot of input. She would like for me to carry a cell phone with me, and would like me to be more available.
There's not many things that are more important to me than my pda, but she certainly is, so I took her wishes into consideration and bought a Treo 650 instead. I'm pretty excited about it, even though it can't use wifi, has a square hires (not hires+) screen, and only has 32 meg memory. It is has both phone and pda in one device, and it has a camera. We'll find out how good it is very soon, but it seems to be everyone's favorite device here based on the number around. It will really increase my geekiness when I'm reading books on my phone, but I guess that's okay.
That's it for now. Hope to have more updates soon.