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Palm CTO rubbishes ‘3000 man years’ of Symbian OS work

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Palm looks certain to go it alone in the smartphone derby after delivering a bitter attack on potential parter Symbian to The Register. We doorstepped Palm's Chief Techology Officer, Bill Maggs, who said Symbian's "3000 man years" of effort wasn't what Palm needed, and criticised the consortium's "one core solution". That's wildly incorrect but, hey - he said it, and we wrote it down. Maggs began by denying that PalmOS would need to be drastically rewritten to cope with real time demands.

"We don't have to completely rearchitect it- the architecture's ready to be expanded. It's basically a good data network OS", he said. Palm developers had misgivings about how PalmOS' crude memory management for telephony applications. Doesn't bother us, said Maggs: "Memory management is one way to solve a problem. There are other ways. You don't need some single thing to run on one core. With multiple cores you don't have those problems."

So this confirms that Palm is ditching the AMX kernel - Palm licenses its base OS kernel under strict conditions - no multithreading - from Kadar although the Palm documentation has been sanitised to remove any reference to this since we raised it a year ago.

"We have a kernel to do one thing," said Maggs. "We can enhance that with new features. But we don't need to run a big MMU, we don't need to spend 3000 man years of effort trying to run a good application enironment, as Symbian has done, without much success it seems to me." Palm has a three stage roadmap with Step Two being strap-on "Sleds" to existing Palm units, and Step Three - what Palm insists on calling integrated devices, expected at the end of 2002, although analyst Nomura says it's most likely a 2003 product. But integrated Symbian phone/PDAs will be hitting the market in volume next summer, heavily subsidised by the network operators, and with an eighteen month lead time over the soap on a rope make-do envisaged by Palm.

If there was any nervousness at the prospect of Palm becoming roadkill at the hands of the cellular handset manufacturers, it didn't appear to be reflected by the audience of analysts and press yesterday. Having heard of a new Palm portal, and a $39 software wireless adaptor, the press conference ended with warm applause from the assembled journalists, who then headed for the buffet: crab cakes, roast beef and roast turkey. ®

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