What’s up with Palm WebOS?

Since HP started the process of acquiring Palm, there has been little activity in the release of new Palm smartphones. Palm came out with the Palm Pre and later the Palm Pixi, but the next few releases were just enhancements of those two models. More memory, slightly faster processor, the inclusion of WiFi is nice, but users want NEW handsets released on a regular basis. Six to eight months seems to be the usual life cycle for smartphones these days, and Palm is way behind in that respect.

What’s even worse, is that the big cell phone carriers (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T) have all but stopped selling the Palm WebOS smartphones (no doubt, because they are “old” in the consumer’s eyes). Sure, Palm has release the Palm Pre 2 to some carriers, but that phone is just a slight variation of the original Palm Pre.

As a developer, I find that I want to write apps for the smartphone platform that I currently own and carry around with me. For the last year and a half that would be the Palm Pixi smartphone. But I’m coming up on my 2-year contract date and will need to decide what to do. At this moment, I’m waiting for Microsoft to release versions of the Windows Phone 7 smartphones on the Sprint network (CDMA). The WP7 OS looks really fresh to me, and I think there’s a lot of opportunity in selling apps for that platform. Microsoft announced last month that CDMA versions of their WM7 phones will be out sometime in  the “first half of 2011”, and I’m hoping it will be sooner rather than later.

The big red herring is what HP/Palm will be announcing next week on February 9th. They have some big news they plan to release, which has been speculated as new smartphone handsets and/or WebOS tablets. The HP CEO stated that people will “drop their iPhones and iPads” when they hear the big announcement, so we shall see. I’m hoping they don’t simply announce a WebOS tablet since that is something every electronics company has already announced and would be a big disappointment. Nor, do they announce another WebOS smartphone which is simply a repackaged Palm Pre design. If they come out with some revolutionary, new hardware with a revamped WebOS that would really catch my attention. Especially if they have plans to sell the hardware through several different cell phone carriers and within 4 weeks of the announcement. That, would be truly remarkable.

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