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Old 05-24-2005, 01:53 AM   #1
Bob Russell
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InsiderStory: PalmSource DevCon Day 0

I'm here in San Jose, CA for the 2005 Palmsource Developer Conference (DevCon). It's "Day 0" because everything happening today was sort of pre-conference activity. Events included a marathon 5hr class called "Programmers Intro to PalmOS," early conference registration, and a PalmSource sponsored Palm User Group meeting.

Oddly enough, there was almost no mention of the resignation of David Nagel, President and CEO of PalmSource. The only comment I heard that even acknowledged the fact was at the PUG meeting where he spoke. He himself made a comment about how someone else would be speaking next year in his place. I did not sense any animosity, and everyone warmly greeted him at the meeting. No one from PalmSource shows any signs of being uncomfortable. It was nice to see that on the surface it looks like everyone is on great terms.

I was able to discuss it briefly with one PalmSource employee, who indicated that she first heard the news this morning when they were all gathered together for the announcement. They didn't really seem to hear too much about it either, or didn't want to share it with me. Not sure which was the reason, but don't look for me to reveal any information here, anyway, that would be damaging. If someone shares something privately with the expectation that it would not be shared, I will honor that, especially if it could bring bad results. I know that's not the way the mainstream press works, or even most blogs, but it's the way I desire to approach things. So if you're looking for news that will destroy anyone, you'll have to look elsewhere. But that's not the case here. Everything so far about David Nagel's resignation seems to be on good terms.

The press release indicates that "Patrick McVeigh, currently senior vice president, worldwide licensing for PalmSource, has been named interim CEO." McVeigh is currently the Sr VP of Worldwide Licensing and Sales, so you might feel that they were just giving the spot to a sales guy. But he has 20yrs of experience in technology and consumer electronics, and is former CEO of Aliph, a company developing audio and speech capabilities for mobile devices. He also was chairman and CEO of Omnisky Corporation until it was bought by Earthlink. According to the PalmSource supplied speaker biographies, "While with Omnisky, he developed and executed the launch of service within one year of founding the business, growing revenues from $0 to $43 million on a run rate basis." In addition he spent over 10yrs with Apple in sales and marketing position. I think that he also has a great background to move the company towards PalmOS on Linux if he becomes permanent.

In his tenure at PalmSource, David Nagel was responsible for some really significant progress at PalmSource as he ushered in the wireless generation. He was previously the chief technology officer at AT&T, so he certainly had the background for it. Also under his watch, we saw the new PalmOS on Linux direction, which if executed well with Cobalt has the potential to open all kinds of future business. The future is uncertain, and there are concerns with the delay in Cobalt devices, but one has to acknowledge that if they can make the jump to Cobalt on Linux, and stay a player in the wireless/smartphone market, there is great potential.

My only disappointment for the day was that I had hoped to see our very own Pride of Lions at the PUG meeting. I'm not sure if he was a no show, or if I just didn't find him, but I guess we're going to have to do it another year.

To wrap up the days activities, let's take a look at them one-by-one:

The Programming Class

Our instructor for the class was JB Parrett from PalmOne, Inc. He did an excellent job of teaching, and even after 5 solid hours, people looked like they were ready for more. Interesting and informative. While most of the talk was rather technical, I have one great tip for the average PalmOS user.

If your device locks up with just the PalmOS logo after a reset, you may not have to do a hard reset. Before you get that desperate, try the following: Hold down the "Scroll Up" button and hit the reset button. It will reboot, but not send launch codes to applications. Then do a soft reset to reload everything properly (after removing the offending application if the problem was caused by a new app just loaded.)

Seems that this is due to an application not coded to properly handle launch codes. But one doesn't need to know all that to use the reset trick.

I would highly recommend the class to any programmers wanting to program with PalmOS. There were some great tips about differences between the emulators and simulators, how memory works, the UI, and tips about what documentation to look at. One of the other interesting notes is that PalmSource still provides the source code for the PIM applications in the Palm SDK, so you can see how the pros do it.

The class was also a chance to meet a couple of people. Two very nice guys were here from Intellisync in Romania. And I thought my 12hrs of traveling was a lot!

Conference Registration

I know this is not normally of a lot of interest to people, but I'm new to this whole blog thing, so I have to tell you that registering as press, and getting a flashy red ribbon on my badge gave me quite a thrill! Doesn't take much, I guess, but it was a real privilege. And they had a very nice black PalmSource backpack for attendees also, filled with some nice goodies. I don't care how old I am, I still love free goodies!

Palm Users Group Meeting

Again, an oustanding job. The meeting had some great speakers and was a lot of fun because of all the giveaways. About five or so Palm devices from PalmOne, Garmin, and TapWave were given away. Also some GPS receivers and loads of software and t-shirts. A lot of fun, and the majority of us got something. (Some free software and a t-shirt came my way.) If you ever have the chance to attend something like this, you should take advantage. It was free and open to the public. Well worth the time to visit.

Larry Berkin, Dir of Developer Marketing at PalmSource, was one of the speakers. He kind of wowed us with a vest he was wearing. It had a scrolling billboard on his back advertising PalmSource DevCon. He said it was controlled by a Palm PDA and pulled the controller out of the pocket. Pretty cool!

Larry shared that there is a new free wireless application in beta that will allow users to find Palm User Groups all over the world. You can go to www.palmsource.com and user groups, where they either have the download or will have it soon. It includes contact info about the user group and a calendar with the events.

David Nagel honored us with a short talk also. He had quite a bit to say about the market. But first he noted that there is strong attendance at the conference this year. No big announcements like Cobalt last year to bring in developers, but still they have about 1000 attendees which matches what they did last year with the big news.

He pointed out that there are good numbers in the business, despite the gloom and doom talk. Especially in the wireless market. To give perspective, he shared some figures. About 10-15 million handhelds are sold each year. About 650 million cell phones are sold each year. In China alone, there are 340 million wireless subscribers, with only a 25% penetration. There are 5 1/2 million new subscribers per year. Now that's a big market!

He mentioned that he's been going to China about once a month. And he talked about how they want to help developers sell software. Right now about 80% of Palm software is sold on developer sites, but he expects that most will be sold over the air in the future. Pick out software with your wireless device and push a button to buy it and install it automatically.

There's a lot of developers out there and most are 1-2 developer shops, so it's not easy to market and sell. Better yet, over the last year, there were about 100,000 new developers added over the last year so more apps are coming. In fact, new apps are coming at a rate of about 500-600 per month. Many new apps are going to be launched right here at DevCon.

We saw some nice presentations from Garmin, which makes PalmOS devices with GPS and route planning built in, and Aceeca, which makes ruggedized devices. There is also a portal store for Europe called Pdassi, which has 6 different portals for 6 different languages. Kind of like a Handango or PalmGear for Europe. Also Kenny West from Motricity (PalmGear) spoke. If you look at the RSS feeds for PalmGear on their site, you'll see that they are supplied by MobileRead. We can thank Alex for that feat of magic, and Kenny was kind enough to thank him for his excellent work. He was quite amazed at how he would call Alex up and next thing you know, he'd have something working! But by now, that surely doesn't suprise any of us!

Someone, I think it was Mark O'Sullivan from PalmSource, showed off a very nice application called Msafe, which is great for Treos. The idea is that if you lose your Treo, all you have to do to lock it or wipe it clean is to send an SMS message from any phone anywhere in the world with the command and password, and it will do it for you. We saw his password in the demo and his phone number, so I hope he either changes it quickly, or the group is not evil-hearted!

Marshall Porter from Handango shared some trivia with us (like Handango was founded in 1999 and used to be called Palm Central). And talked about Handango in Hand, which is a client app that lets you browse their catalog and purchase software over the air. It even comes preinstalled with a device offered by Sprint. Clearly everyone is moving toward this software delivery model.

There's also going to be a PUG section at Handango that allows a portion of proceeds (5%) to go back to the PUG group that sponsors the sectionl. By the way, the name Palm Central is making a brief appearance once again when Handango offers a 20% discount on all Palm software at a Palm Central portion of the site. No word on when it's coming or for how long, but it will be at palm.handango.com.

There was an announcement about www.allaboutpalm.com. Supposedly, at the PUG we were the first to hear about the site, but of course anyone that follows Palm Addicts already knew about it and had probably even visited it before, just like I had! As I always say, if you want to get all the news about Palm, just keep an eye on Palm Addicts!

Wrapup

I hope this has given everyone a taste of what this pre-conference day has been like here. So far, PalmSource has made everything a very pleasant event, and I'm really looking forward to the remaining days, as well as hooking up with a few friendly faces.

Speaking of which, I spoke momentarily with Mike Rohde, of Rohdesign.com while I was trying to find a seat at the PUG meeting. He disappeared during the evening, but I hope to catch up with him soon.

I'll be back with more news as soon as I have opportunity, but please note that this is pretty much stream of consciousness. No time for things like spell check or grammar or proofreading. It's late (almost 1am local time back home) so I'm headed back to the hotel!
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Old 05-24-2005, 05:08 AM   #2
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You're so luck Bob... Being at something like that would be so much fun. And thanks for the writeup. It's a great read so far. Can't wait for day 1. ;P

:< Although with school I could never go...
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Old 05-24-2005, 05:40 AM   #3
TadW
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Great insider report! Makes me wish I was there right now. I am especially thankful for the information that Nagel's departure isn't a big deal (at least officially) for PalmSource. I think it was hacker who said in another thread that Nagel was perhaps not the right man to run the company.

Please continue your coverage! It's an exciting read for a Palm fan like me. By any chance - do you have a digicam with you?
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Old 05-24-2005, 10:01 AM   #4
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Fantastic post Bob thanks for covering this.
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Old 05-24-2005, 12:04 PM   #5
Alexander Turcic
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I think it's great to know that Nagel is not making a big difference for those present at the summit. Bob, I am curious if you've heard anything about the latest rumors on PalmSource possibly being acquired by PalmOne again.
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