Feeds

3Com opens PalmOS to developers

But it's still way, way off becoming Open Source

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

3Com subsidiary Palm Computing announced yesterday at the Palm Worldwide Developers Conference (DevCon) that it will open the PalmOS source code to third-party developers. Details of how developers will gain access to the code and what they'll be allowed to do with it are scare, but that hasn't stopped many members of the Open Source community from leaping up and down, hallooing Palm's name to the reverberate hills, and predicting a flood of cheap Palm clones rustled up by developers who can now eaily port PalmOS to their hardware. But does this make sense for Palm? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, no. As some cannier Open Source supporters have pointed out, there's a big difference between allowing developers to see how the APIs they write to work, and allowing them to tinker with those APIs and the code code behind them, even in some kind of moderated environment a la Linux. So why talk about opening up the PalmOS source code? Palm has now reached the stage where it has proved itself as a viable platfrom. It has rushed ahead to become, as 3Com CEO Eric Benhamou said at Comdex, 3Com's fastest-growing product line, and now it's time to consolidate that advance. One of the best ways of doing that is to begin widening the market for your product, and one of the best ways of doing that is to licensing it to third parties. And, indeed, Benhamou told Comdex attendees that Palm will soon begin an aggressive licensing programme, seeking partners who want to take the Palm platform into new markets. Going the whole hog and placing PalmOS in the Open Source space would speed up that process, but ultimately take control of it away from Palm, which isn't what the company wants. Even if it retains control of the hardware, it wouldn't be long before some enterprising programmer figures out a way of running PalmOS on, say, a Windows CE device. At that point Palm's revenue stream really begins to dry up, and since it's in the business of making money, it's clearly not going to be too keen on letting that happen. Instead, it makes the PalmOS source available to developers to allow them to extend the scope of their development efforts and to show that it doesn't want to restrict those efforts in any way other than retain ownership of the OS. So are there any circumstances where releasing PalmOS under an Open Source software licence makes sense? Probably not. The key benefit of Open Source is the vast array of development effort it unleashes. That's good for the platform, but as we've seen not so good for the developers of the hardware that the OS runs on. The only way for it to work for Palm is if the sale of its hardware isn't tied to the software -- in short, if the devices are so ubiquitous that manufacturers can compete on the basis of their products being better than other vendors'. Palm may sell a lot of machines now, but in such a volume commodity market it would have to sell a great deal more but at a considerably reduced margin. 3Com has never been a volume supplier, and it's hard to imagine it allowing the Palm platform ever become that kind of business. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
4chan outraged by Emma Watson nudie photo leak SCAM
In the immortal words of Shaggy, it wasn't me us ... amirite?
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.