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This is a great board, but it is a little US-centric, I'm afraid to say.

This is a big world and the majority of cellphones sold worldwide are made by non-US companies.

Not coincidentally, all of the big cell makers are partners in Symbian, as is Psion, the originators of EPOC.

Now today comes the news that 3COM's Palm have agreed to make their platform EPOC compatible, which will give both companies a leg up on the next generation of wireless devices.

Apart from being the death knell for WinCE in handhelds, the really interesting question is will this be a mutually beneficial arrangement for Palm and Symbian, or will one company try to bury the other under the guise of this "agreement".

Comments today from Kessler of Palm tend to indicate the latter, but (IMHO) it is Symbian that will win out, due primarily to the adoption of Symbian by the biggest mobile phone makers.
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What does this mean for WirelessKnowledge?

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TomCayman: (IMHO) it is Symbian that will win out

I think you're going a bit overboard here. Even in the UK, Psion's home turf, Palm still commands a 60+% marketshare. In other parts of the world, Psion is fairing far worse, with close to zero sales in Asia.

PalmOS hit critical mass, just like how MS Windows 3.0 hit critical mass, so I don't forsee how any other OS will win out in the PDA space, at least not without Palm faltering badly. Look at competing operating systems to MS, namely Apple and Unix. Even though in certain niche fields, both are used almost exclusively (graphic design for Apple, finance/servers for Unix), overall they own what, a mere 20% of the marketspace?

According to the press releases, it looks like EPOC will become the kernel, the closest layer to the hardware, and the PalmOS will sit on top of that, so both will share space in handset devices. Now developers will have a choice of either coding to the EPOC kernel or the PalmOS interface. Given that there are currently 5 million Palms out there and an active Palm development community numbering in the tens of thousands, verses almost zero EPOC devices/developers/etc, just what do you think developers will do? If the press releases are true, it looks like Palm has already won.

I believe that this was a do or die issue with Symbian. QCOM is releasing the pdQ and NOK signed up to make a Palm cell phone. My bet is that you'll see more handset makers do deals with Palm, since they can't afford to overlook the market leader. And if Symbian didn't do something about that, they'd have lost by default.
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Here's an interesting take on the Palm / Symbian "agreement to discuss" cross-licensing of the Palm and EPOC technologies, from our friends in the U.K.:

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Who told you Palm has 60% of the market in the UK. Honestly, that is hysterically funny. Psion is as dominant in the UK as Palm is in the US, which also leads to similar complacency among UK Psion investors who think THEY have the world market leader.

Also, "virtually zero" EPOC devices. Emm...every Psion is already an EPOC device and there are a few more than zero out there.

Having said that, you make some excellent points in your post, particularly re PalmOS developers. Whilst there are many Psion developers (C++ is used on EPOC), Palm has done a masterful job at encouraging developers to adopt their platform.

Palm may well have achieved a sort of critical mass, but there are still a few issues that are yet to be played out before it can get to a virtual monopoly situation :
1) Can it become the dominant UI for 3G phones
2) Do people really prefer Graffiti to Keyboards ? This is not that simple, we are not just talking about keyboards on mobile phones (don't like them myself), but how about IrDA or Bluetooth connections from 3G mobiles to Psion Revo's or Laptops. Personally, I use a Palm but don't bother to enter data on it much, rather HotSync. If on the road, much prefer a touchtype keyboard
3) Palm is 16 bit, not 32 bit. This may not be big, as it can probably be addressed by using alternative kernels such as EPOC (i'm a bit over my head on this one, I must admit)

I divide my time between the US and UK Fool sites, and equally try to gather information from both without bias, in what is a truly global market for the future of mobile comms. I would hope that we all do the same, then maybe we might get a decent discussion on CDMA (USA, ra ra ra) vs GSM (Up Europe, who do these colonials think they are etc.)

BTW, added you to my favourites on the strength of your thought provoking post !
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