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Palm “Nova” Linux set for CES debut?

Jan 5, 2009 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

Sure, “no va” means “no go” in Spanish. Yet, “Nova” seems to be either the name or the codename for a Linux-based smartphone and device OS stack that handset maker Palm is expected to launch at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

(Click for larger view of a Chevy “no va.”)

The rumors appear to have started in Dec., when Palm CEO Ed Colligan confirmed in an earnings call that the “Nova” OS had been distributed to wireless carriers and software developers. Then, a Saturday story by the San Francisco Chronicle's Ryan Kim re-kindled interest in the stack.

Kim called the stack Palm's “last gasp,” suggesting that if it fails to generate significant buzz, it could spell doom for Palm, which this winter has cut staff and restructured. Kim noted that Palm shipped only about 700 thousand phones, while Apple and RIM shipped 6.9 and 6.7 million, respectively.

Palm's single-tasking PalmOS is considerably far behind modern smartphone stacks such as Android or the iPhone, and while the company has shipped several Windows Mobile versions of its flagship Treo smartphone line, it has seen production delays with Windows-based models. Palm this summer ended a year-long draught of Windows Mobile Treo models when it finally shipped the 800w. A few months later, it delivered the unlocked Palm Pro, though the device was nearly identical to the earlier 800w.

Palm previously used Linux in a Foleo mobile companion product that was scrapped after a high-profile launch at LinuxWorld. And, Palm has been rumored to be at work on an in-house Linux stack for phones for several years. CEO Ed Colligan confirmed Linux Treo plans earlier this year, but the company has not managed to market such a device.

Several years ago, Palm tried to re-absorb PalmSource, its OS spinout, which had adopted Linux. However, along with Motorola, it was outbid by Japanese phone software vendor Access.

A long-time leader of the PDA market, Palm was also an early leader of the smartphone market. Equipped with tiny QWERTY hardware keyboards, Palm's Treo devices were the iconic smartphone in the early days of the market. The company today employs about 1,050, according to reports. The Chronicle story about “Nova” can be found here.

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