Palm Deals Latest Setback to WinMo as Google Updates Android

While .NET developers gained the iPhone as an alternative mobile platform to develop to this week, one that they will be losing is Palm.

During Palm's earnings call last night, company CEO Jon Rubinstein said the company will no longer build devices for other software platforms, notably Windows Mobile. The move is hardly surprising: Palm has staked its future on its new webOS platform, which resulted in June's release of the Palm Pre and last week's launch of the Pixie.

But when the company announced webOS back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, it indicated that it was committed to supporting Windows Mobile as well. Several years ago, Microsoft and Palm announced with great fanfare the fact that Palm would offer a version of its Treo with support for Windows Mobile.

Dan Rumney, global support manager with IBM, who helped organize last month's PreDevCamp, said in an email that he doubted the move would sway webOS developers either way. "I think it's a move that's sure to comfort investors and reassure development companies who are investing in webOS," Rumney noted.

While the move may have limited impact in the overall fortunes of both Windows Mobile and Palm, it is the latest incremental setback for Microsoft's mobile ambitions. Motorola, an earlier supporter of Windows Mobile, is now putting its emphasis on Google's Android platform. Motorola, which like Palm has struggled in recent years with significant declines in market share, last week released its first Android-based phones, the Cliq and the Motoblur.

Meanwhile Android is gaining momentum with a number of handset makers. Google this week released a new SDK for its newest release, Android 1.6. It is based on Donut, from the Android open source project. (The SDK is available for download here.)

According to a blog posting by Google technical staff member Xavier Ducrohet this week, the new SDK adds support for CDMA networks, a greater number of screen sizes, new screen resolutions including SVGA and WVGA and new gesture APIs. It also will have a new text-to-speech engine and a "quick search box."

Android 1.6 upgrades the Linux kernel from 2.6.27 to 2.6.29, according to the release notes, and includes new APIs.

Meanwhile, a number of other handset providers that offer Windows Mobile phones are adding Android-based devices including Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, among others. LG on Monday launched its first Android-based device, the LG-GW620. Unlike Motorola and Palm, LG in July committed to releasing a number of new Windows Mobile based devices.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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